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Non-Seasonal. March 28, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Here’s a shot from the Mount Holyoke greenhouses which  I like enough to share:

…just a wee taste for those of you wanting warmer weather.

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Faux February. February 15, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This ain’t February.

I mean, the calendar says it is, but it really isn’t.

Cattle don’t forage on snowless ground here in February:

Bulls don’t paw and grub through the rattling corn stubble:

Mount Holyoke doesn’t watch over fallow fields of flattened grasses as the sun sets:

No, this isn’t February – it’s something else.

It ain’t right, I tell ya.

The top two were reeled in by Ollie, the last one is the work of that scoundrel Elliot.  That boy gets around.

A Graduation Weekend! June 1, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Uncategorized.
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Last weekend my eldest daughter graduated from Mount Holyoke College, and though the effort was all hers, I have to say that it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

This was a two day affair, with Saturday being comprised of the Laurel Parade, a college tradition combining a unique ceremony with visits from alumni of years past, and many meet-and-greets with faculty who overflowed with praise for our brilliant daughter and her brilliant new wife.  The two of them went through the day hand in hand, making it especially sweet for the Pagan Sphinx and me.

Here are a few shots from Saturday.

Laurel ropes (yes, real laurel leaves woven into strands a hundred yards long) waiting to be shouldered by the young women who earned the right to do so:

laurel ropes

Now to find my Gurrrlz in this sea of diversity:

diversity

It’s cowboy hats, head scarves and everything in between, purportedly the most diverse student body in the country, and it’s a magical pageant of humanity to a country boy like me:

more diversity

Ah, there  they are – on the far side of the procession, which is about to begin:

mer and shan

I’ll have to catch up with them later.  But isn’t it fabulous how everyone smiles when you point a camera in their direction?  And certainly all these women deserve to be smiling – Mount Holyoke isn’t for lightweights, and every last one of them earned this day, Big Time.

The parade begins with invited alumni (a staggered system which avoids having millions of women converge on this unsuspecting little town every May) strutting their colors and reminiscing about when it was their graduation:

alumni

…while more venerable alums watched from a comfortable distance:

car and driver

The Ladies in Red here are proud graduates of the Class of 1934:

class of 1934

Their smiles are as priceless as their memories must be.

And then the matriculating  Seniors walk that walk through the campus which they called home for the last four years:

parade starts

Through the campus they wind their way, arriving at last at the grave of the school’s founder, Mary Lyon:

through the grass

Winding themselves tightly around the tiny fenced plot, passing their laurel ropes forward, swaddling their benefactor’s grave in the glory of their proud accomplishments:

wrapped

It was all a lot classier than I’ve managed to portray it, and made for a beautiful morning, followed by hugs from the Moms:

with Mom

That’s The Pagan Sphinx, flanked by Elder Progeny and her Beloved, with our little Ultimate Spawn rounding out the Gaggle of Gurrrlyz.

Our Beloved’s mom and dad flew in from California for this occasion.  Here’s Beloved with her Mom:

DL and Mom

The parade was followed by a picnic on the lawn, with the requisite nap afterward:

picnic nap

Then there were departmental meet-ups, with faculty touting their students’ accomplishments and passing out awards.  Both of our graduates recieved High Praise and Booty.

It won’t surprise you to know that I was busting my buttons.

All

Day

Long.

Sunday’s photos of the actual graduation ceremony will follow shortly; right now, I’m off to bed!

Nutty Land. November 2, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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When I was just out of high school, a friend of mine invited our tight group of outcasts to a party in “Nutty Land,” which we would find to be a cornfield along the Connecticut River in Northampton.  It was far from any houses, a mile from the nearest pavement, and apparently the local police preferred to know where the Party Crowd was on any given Saturday night.

So we went.  There was a big bonfire, with drunken boys leaping over it after making furious approaches.  There were vans a-rockin’, and sweet hippy chicks staggering around in a mixture of alcohol-induced haze and pleasant afterglow, while their triumphant conquerors drank and thumped their chests and drove their sooped-up cars blindly through the cornfields, with an occasional idiot blasting through the green wall to find himself soaring down the embankment and into the deep, cold waters of the Connecticut.

Nearly forty years later, I’m back in those cornfields

And I’m not holding a Miller beer, but a camera.

I’m looking for a Summer scene I’ve seen, but I’m way too late.  So I’d settle for an Autumn scene, but I should have been earlier for that as well.

It’s past prime here in the valley, but so far behind my hill-country home that it looks alive, vibrant in the late afternoon light.

This is what I came here for:

The view across the river to the hills known as The Seven Sisters.  They’re part of the Holyoke Range, a ridge of hills dividing Hadley from South Hadley.

Skinner Park occupies the western high point of this range, with an old hotel perched atop Mount Holyoke, the mountain, not the college:

The hotel serves as an Historic Site these days, with visitors wandering through the sparsely furnished rooms and digging the rather incredible  views.

This shot of the Summit House reminds me of colorized postcards of a bygone era:

While the adjacent hills glow in the long rays of the setting sun:

That’s all I got.

The Spawn Are Gawn January 24, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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8 comments

This week, both of My Little Passion Fruit went back off to college.

Ultimate Spawn once again left These Here Hills for the high-rise hustle and bustle of BU. Talk about “culture shock!”

That ride was courtesy of her Mom, who hates driving in Boston (and yes, it is the craziest place in The States to drive,) because I was not available.

Thanks, Mom.

I’m personally just wacked enough to consider the Brownian movement of the Beantown Bumper Fest a hoot.

To be fair, it’s not that Bostonians drive like Italians (though some do) or that they exhibit the road-rage of LA (though some have,) or even that it’s a lawless free-for-all. On the whole, I’d say Bostonians drive as civilly as most American urbanites, with an equal measure of harried, hurried Me-First-ism, tail-gaiting and Orange Light Phenomenon.

The “problem” is the “roads.” They were laid out four centuries ago.

By white-tailed-deer.

Picture 4.4 million body lice trying to navigate a cubic yard of dry Ramen Noodles (sorry Kids, No Leaping Allowed!) Now give them all cell phones, and you begin to get the picture.

Quincey (a “suburb”) is the only place on Earth where I was ever trapped in a one-way cul-de-sac. Seriously.

Oh, and if you need to get east of where you’re at, go ahead and turn east. I predict you’ll be watching the sunset through your windshield before you hit the next intersection.

Ah, Boston! Red Sox, white knuckles and “blue” politics.

But that’s not what I want to write about today.

Today’s subject is Mount Holyoke College, to which I returned Elder Progeny yesterday.

“MoHome,” as the young ladies who go there affectionately refer to it, is the oldest Women’s College in the Country. Founded in 1837 by the brilliant and visionary Mary Lyon, Mount Holyoke was the first all-women’s college in the U.S., and the first of the Seven Sisters, the female equivalent of the then-male Ivy League (MoHome’s “brother school” is Dartmouth.)

mount-ho-small.jpg

What an amazing place! With students from 70 countries and enough American “minorities” among its 2100 students to claim a 30% “diversity rate,” the place is The World in a nutshell.

The greatest commonality among Mount Holyoke’s students is that they’re: a) brilliant, and b) pretty well off. In fact, unlike a lot of other $45,000/year schools (think: Yale,) one is unlikely to get in on the strength of, say, Daddy’s Governorship.

E.P. is, however, a “minority.” She is (or rather, “We are”) Financially Challenged. Despite having the best package of financial aid anyone she knows has ever heard of, the “small” balance challenges us, with her Mom and I maxing out on loans, E.P. amassing a mountain of Under-graduate debt, and a younger sister deserving our equal support.

Anyway, dropping Elder Progeny off yesterday was a trip, meandering among the mostly brown-stone buildings in castle-like edifices.

castle2-small.jpg

E.P. scored a “single” on the third floor of this cool building:

mohome1-small.jpg

…and after dropping her off at the door (XYs Need Not Apply) I headed around to the sunny side of the building (her suggestion) for a photo.

And while I was backed into the bushes taking pictures of this gurrrls’ dormatory, a pair of undergrads walked by, their casual stroll suddenly transforming into a shifty-eyed hustle.

I stood up ( I was kneeling) and looked down.

farmer-dad-small.jpg

Flannel shirt, torn down vest, faded jeans, and a pair of knee-high rubber boots, like I should have been shoveling out the barn or something. And two days’ stubble. Hey, I’m unemployed!

I packed it up and split before the sirens came even close. 😉