This time last month, we were buried. Ten feet of snow blanketed everything. Icicles hung heavy from the eaves. Ice covered the Blackstone River.
Then the rain came. It rained steadily, every day and most nights for almost two weeks. When the rain stopped, the snow was gone. Or nearly gone.
Last week, we got the last snow of this winter. Part snow, sleet, and hail, it laid down two inches and melted the next morning.
After the snows melt, but before the flowers bloom, there is a pre-spring. The end of March and most of April is a time of naked trees. There are buds and some few early flowers. Suddenly, in the middle of May, the world bursts into color. Trees flower and gardens are full of lilies.
Not yet, however. Only the crocus have dared to show their flowery heads. Everything waits.
Gary and I joined the Mars mission. It’s a special mission, not at all like previous exploratory ventures. I always wanted to travel to the stars.
Because of all the health problems I’ve had, I thought it could never happen.
Suddenly, more or less out of the blue, this mission came up. NASA said they were looking people like us, who have arthritic, heart, and other aging issues, but have retained a strong sense of adventure. The space doctors want to see if Mars’ reduced gravity will improve the quality of our lives and hopefully, increase our longevity.
Couples were welcomed — preferred. Garry and I found ourselves trying to pack our memories into little space trunks. After a lifetime of experiences, we will abandon Earth’s blue-green shores.
NASA has made it clear. We will never return to Earth. The trip is too long — for us — to travel both directions. Science fiction notwithstanding, warp drive never became real. It would have made a huge difference in the entire concept of the trip.
When I think about it, I’m not sure we would need to come back anyway. Most of our friends and family are gone. Adventure awaits! It is one of the biggest ironies of aging that our souls do not grow old, but our bodies do.
This is the ultimate soul food — a journey into the unknown. The chance to be pioneers and maybe change the world.
HOME ON THE RED PLANET
Mars. Different sky. This planet has but two seasons, albeit in limited areas near what we would call the equator. Spring and fall. Summer is broiling and only occurs at the poles, as does winter. Mars’ winter makes the worst winter we ever experienced in New England look like nothing.
Few flowers and they are not like those we’ve known and loved. Fauna comes in strange shapes and odd colors.
There are forests, sort of. Martian trees grow in abundance. These trees have stems without bark. They are smooth with leaves like fronds. In the Martian autumn, they turn magenta and blue. Gaudy for sure, but I miss the gold, orange, and red of an Earth autumn.
There is no grass though the pink sands are beautiful in their way. The ground is not alive. It forms a bed for growing things, but it is inert.
I do not miss full gravity. I feel light and springy, and my arthritis and other joint problems are gone. This is better than stumbling into old age on earth.
We all miss green. Trees, grass, even weeds, and crabgrass. Mars has no birds. There are plenty of ground animals. Many burrowing things that look (and act) like squirrels. But nothing flies through the air. Maybe the atmosphere is too thin.
I yearn for the crisp snap of an October morning. To be fair, even on earth when I was away from the northeast, I missed fall.
There are no breezes that rustle the treetops or wildflowers in fields. No dandelions, violets, or spiderwort. Most of all, I miss blue skies though I may eventually grow to love mauve.
I miss oceans with tides and waves. These oceans are smooth as glass, like huge mill ponds and full of the weirdest looking water-dwelling critters you can imagine.
Breezes do not rustle the treetops and winds blow only during storms. Those winds are wild and powerful. You won’t see a field of wildflowers, dandelions, violets, or day lilies. Or anything like it.
Mostly, I miss blue skies and white clouds. Mauve is okay, and I don’t hate it, but I never stop being shocked when I look up to see that warm, dusty pink. Never a cloud rolls by.
Mars is our new world. Different. But we can make a home here. It will be good.
What type of music relaxes you the most or do you prefer silence?
I love music, but I need to listen to it. If I am not paying attention, and it’s playing in the background, it’s noise. Either I am fully engaged or I want silence.
When I do listen, it’s usually classical music, probably because that was where my love of music began. When Garry and I are traveling, we listen to folk, or country, even older music from the forties or fifties. We are nothing if not eclectic.
I cannot listen to music and drive alone. I find music more distracting than words. Tell me I’m not the only one.
Show us a two of your favorites photographs? Explain why they are your favorite. If you are not a photographer, think of a two favorite scenes in your life and tell us about them.
It was a terrible winter. I took this picture at the end of March. By the calendar, spring was well underway. No one told the river; it was partly frozen. The snow was piled so high I had to go to the road and shoot down. The snow was higher than I am tall.
These two pictures were taken less than a mile from home. They remind me that New England is amazing, filled with extraordinary natural beauty even when we are buried under 10 feet of snow.
As for this last picture, I love the look on Garry’s face. I love that Bishop photobombed the picture. I love that everyone looks happy.
What is your favorite tradition? (family tradition, church tradition, whatever)
Garry and I watch seasonal movies. For Christmas, we watch “Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We view “The Ten Commandments” at Easter/Passover. There are others. Movies are a language we share. They have memories and meanings that are special to us. Personal memories not shared by anyone else.
If you could go back and talk to yourself at age 18 what advice would you give yourself? Or if you are younger than 25 what words of wisdom would you like to tell yourself at age 50?
I’ve gotten to a point where it makes more sense to figure out what I would tell myself at age 50. In which case, I’d tell myself to get better medical care. To take the time to go to Boston and be seen by experts. To not take the word of local doctors with dubious credentials. I probably wouldn’t listen to myself. I never do.
I was tagged by Cordelia’s Mom, Still to participate in this challenge.
It turns out that no one is quite sure where this challenge originated, but everyone seems to be enjoying it. It’s got only two rules:
1. On 5 consecutive days, create a post using one of your photos in B&W. It doesn’t have to be new or any particular subject. Just black and white.
2. Each day, invite another blog friend to join in the fun. The hard part is finding people who haven’t done it already, and would like to play.
On this fifth day of the challenge, I invite you (you know who you are!) to participate. You don’t have to play if you’re too busy or prefer not to, but you are officially (formally) invited.
The following sunrise I used a bi-tone filter so that it’s dark gray at the top, transitioning to soft moss-green approaching the bottom.
The hardest subjects for me to do in black and white are nature and landscapes. I find these subjects easier to do in color, but I have had some surprise successes in monochrome. I’m also enjoying playing around with color toning.
I was up rather earlier this morning than I wanted to be. Noon seemed a rather long time away, but I got into editing a few photos and time just flew. Suddenly, it was 11:40 am … twenty minutes before noon. I grabbed the camera.
The sun was shining. We’ve had a lot of rain recently, so almost all the snow is gone except for a patch way back in the woods. You can see it, if you look carefully.
An hour and a half later, the sun is gone. The sky is gray and it’s cold, suddenly. Oh well.
When I woke up around dawn Saturday morning, it was drizzling. As it had been, off and on, for several days. I went back to bed. Too early for anything useful. The next time I woke up, a couple of hours later, big fat snowflakes were drifting from the sky. Not a serious snow.
If I have learned nothing else, it is how to tell the difference between snow that means business, and those casually drifting snow flakes which will evaporate when they touch ground. I went back to bed. Again.
When finally I got up and it was time for coffee and the day to begin, the snow had changed again. Finer flakes, but now mixed with a hint of rain. Still not serious.
And so it has continued for several hours. Not enough snow to make a statement. It is just winter lodging a formal protest against being forced to leave.
Sorry about that, old man winter. You’ve out-stayed your welcome. There’s a new weather deity in town and she brings flowers and warmer weather. Pack your bags and go wherever you are supposed to be.
This is, I am convinced, the last snow. We will see no more of it until the seasons roll around again. It’s not that we haven’t seen snow later than this.
I remember a 28 inch blizzard on April 1st that was (no surprise) dubbed “The April Fool’s Blizzard.” It came, dumped more than two feet on Boston, then melted in a couple of days of 70 degree temperatures. I’m told there have been surprise snowstorms as late as mid May. But not this year.
This is the last snow of this winter. I have decided.
What makes these oddball? These lovely pictures that look like Christmas?
They were taken on March 28th and March 29th. Not Christmas. Not even close. I sincerely hope that I don’t have the opportunity to take any more of these kinds of pictures until NEXT winter!!