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Meanwhile, Back On Nantucket… February 2, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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…Our weekend, continued.

The village of Nantucket is a beautiful bit of Old New England:

…gone kinda commercial.  The cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks and buildings are quaint, but geared toward raking in the tourist bucks.

This time of year we were spared the crowds:

In fact, we were spared the burden of having anything be open.

So we sprung for a rental car and hit the road.

We headed East to ‘Sconset (it’s actually Siasconset,  but The Locals don’t call it that) across the island “highlands.”  This is an interesting bit of terrain which makes a passable Serengeti:

Our innkeeper told us that, last year, someone had placed life-size cut-outs of big game out there, to the assumed delight of us tourists.

I think that’s pretty funny.

But onward we went, stopping at Sankaty Light just north of ‘Sconset:

This big boy was moved in 2007, back from the edge of an impressive but eroding sand dune cliff.  Here Susan gives it a bit of scale:

The sand cliffs here dwarf the Cape cliffs at Marconi Beach.  Susan considered the dive:

…but in the end, thought better of it:

We settled for a nice long walk on the beach:

…amidst the driftwood…

…and occasional messages in the sand, this one obliterated by a wave a second after I captured it:

Here the shifting sands swallow anything which sits still long enough to succumb to the work of wind and water:

…while spitting out the unpalatable cast-offs of a struggling coastal population:

As the afternoon waned, we headed back to Nantucket Village in time to catch another low tide, my personal favorite time to be on the beach:

Tiny tableaus told of battles fought and lost,

and of past glories now bleaching in the surf and sun:

What a tale was told there, of life and death, beauty and dissolution.

There were lessons to be learned by wiser minds, but then, we had a ferry to catch.

So, off to the Lady Martha:

…away from the dock:

…and back across the Sound, this time chuttering against the wind, so ‘scuse the shaky shots -with the sun setting over Nantucket Sound:

…and off to the southeast, a trail of warm memories:

…albeit grainy as all get-out.

Anyway, that’s it from Nantucket.  I hope you enjoyed it a fraction as much as we did.

G’Night now.

Nantucket! February 1, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Susan and I made landfall (or “island-fall,” in this case,) around 1pm, in the port of Nantucket.  We disembarked and ambled up Main Street, a cobblestone throwback to a slower time, though presently hosting a full compliment of modern autos:

The cobblestone streets were cool, though I wouldn’t want to have to plow them:

After a period of wandering/fumbling our way around town, we found our bed & breakfast, “Seven Sea Street,” at, um, #7 Sea Street.  The wandering was entirely my fault; I’d assumed there’d be some sort of tourist info available  for people getting off the ferry, and lacking a functioning printer at home, hadn’t brought a street map.

And yeah, “Off-Season” meant off season,  and not much was open, including the Visitors’ Center!

We ditched our bags at our lodgings and walked a little ways to Brant Point, where a cute little lighthouse stood guard over the harbor entrance.  It was just a bit past low tide, and wave upon wave of shells festooned the beach below the light:

That was an attempt at a tilt/shift shot, with Elliot putting in his best effort but not getting his best results; I’m trying to figure out why, and settling somewhere around the low light and serious shift putting the lens beyond its more useful parameters.  At any rate, I resolved to get back here at first light (not a very romantic option, but hey, I’m trying to do something here.)

We found a nice restaurant just down the block from our lodgings and enjoyed a spectacular meal at Lo/La 41, fresh local seafood within sight of the ocean.  It set me back more than I’m used to, but you know, these numbered birthdays come only once in a lifetime, and here we were both healthy and hungry and strong and sensually alight.  We ate with gusto, then retired to our little suite, paying passing homage to the fireplace in the sitting room on our way to our four-poster canopy nest.

The pre-dawn morning twisted my mind a bit, its pale eastern glow urging me out of bed despite a lack of sleep.  I’d laid my clothes out in order of application in the other room, hoping to let Susan sleep while I took photos.  My pre-planning worked and I slipped away unnoticed.

I beat feet back to Brant Point Light, a little later than I’d hoped but still early enough to get these shots.

Morning threatening to break:

This cool walkway said, “Come on in!”

…but, of course, the door was locked, so I just walked the walk.   🙂

Nothin’ going on there except me and the birds:

By this time my numb fingers were reminding me of Warm Good-Mornings and breakfast, so I headed back into town.

More of Nantucket later; right now we’re getting a pretty good snow, and the roof needs tending to.

A Crossing. January 31, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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This past weekend marked my Susan’s birthday, and to celebrate the occasion I booked us an overnight at a Bed & Breakfast on Nantucket Island.  Neither of us had ever been there before, and we were both excited to check it out.

Winter is the “off-season” at the coast, so we (correctly) assumed we’d have a quiet time away, which was just what we wanted.

Getting to Nantucket is a bit of a chore, involving a three and a half hour drive and an hour-long ferry ride out of Hyannis.  The usual commuter ferry wasn’t running, so we had to take a slightly more expensive private boat over.

Hy-Line Cruises did a nice job, though – the boat was clean and fast and steady, a relief to the two of us, who are inveterate land-lubbers.

Here’s our ride, the Lady Martha:

I planned to snag a window seat to take a few photographs, but the windows were caked with salt spray on the outside so that was out.  Instead, we spent a fair part of the ride on the upper rear deck, where the views were exciting for this hill town boy.

We picked up speed as soon as we’d cleared the Hyannisport jetties:

The mainland receded quickly, leaving me scanning the horizon for our destination.  Here’s a view out the bow windows:

,,,nope, nothin’ but water and sky.

It was chilly out in the wind:

…so we ducked inside for a while.

Most of an hour passed before Nantucket reared its low, gentle “heads,” as coastal highlands are called in these parts, and I annoyed my fellow passengers by shouting, “Land, Ho!” in my best Mr. Krabs voice:

We rounded Brant Point:

…and docked.

Next, “On The Island Of Nantucket!”





Our New Neighbor! December 5, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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We have a new neighbor on the hill across the river:

This beauty sprang up last week atop our local ski area, and is expected to produce enough electricity on a yearly basis to offset the ski area’s total usage.

I think that’s pretty cool.

But wind generators are not without their detractors, including environmentalists who decry the impact of not just these imposing wind turbines, but the accompanying network of access roads and transmission lines which make their construction, maintenance and connectivity possible.  This is surely an issue warranting consideration in our vanishing wilderness areas, but I think less so in an area like this one with a strong human presence and plenty of rarely traveled field and logging roads.

A more commonly expressed concern, however, has to do with the effect of wind turbines on the “viewscape.”  We live in a relatively undeveloped area, The Berkshires being famous for their established rural beauty and bucolic landscapes.   As a photographer I value the pristine ridges and free-flowing rivers, and will need to be a bit more creative to avoid signs of civilization in my work.

And where land values are high, in towns like New Ashford and Hancock, our wealthy neighbors are adamantly vociferous in their objections to seeing these harbingers of development on “their” ridge lines.  The Berkshire Wind Project has survived well funded efforts to quash it, but is finally being realized as a ten-turbine facility:

That’s not a great photograph, but you get the picture – there’s an undeniable visual impact.

But consider if you will the alternatives.  Would the fine folk of Hancock rather see their ridge devoured by “mountaintop removal mining,” with the toxic tailings dumped into the ravines and valleys which comprise the headwaters of the brooks which feed the rivers which fill their beautiful lakes?  Perhaps they’d prefer a nice domed nuclear generator on that shoreline, with cooling towers and a host of swaths cleared for powerlines to go this way and that?

Oh, right – Not In My Back Yard! Shades of Cape Wind, the big wind farm in the works off of our iconic island of Nantucket.  Even the Kennedy family, those defenders of progressivism, choked on the prospect of something which would interrupt their pristine ocean views.

I, for one, would much rather look across the river to a ridgeline wind turbine than a coal-fired power plant complete with its mountains of coal and tall, belching stack.

It’s also worth considering, I think, that wind and solar installations can be built with a frequency and on a scale which doesn’t require massive commitments of land for transmission lines as do larger scale means of generation, with the concomitant power losses inherent in pushing the juice across the country (beware, for that reason, of schemes to build massive wind and solar farms in the Southwest or out on the Plains – this model is being pushed by our existing power giants as a way to ensure that only they can handle the job, and will have devastating environmental impacts.)

We all need to accept that, barring a paradigm shift which would allow us to be satisfied with a world where “growth” wasn’t the over-riding goal of our existence, there will be changes. It’s up to us to decide which changes we’ll accept, both for our own lives and for those who come after us.