Nature

A RIOT OF GREEN

We scooted over to our little piece of river yesterday.

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These were all taken on the banks of Aldrich Creek. It runs parallel the street on which we live.

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This little park is in Burriville, just over the Rhode Island border.

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A pretty piece of waterway and right now, it’s a riot of green.

I KNOW YOU CAN’T REALLY SEE IT BUT …

72-turtle-ManchaugDry_042 This is the kind of picture no one should make other people look at because you have to start off by saying, “I know you can’t really see it but …” It’s a turtle. Swimming under the water. I know you can’t really see it, but I thought it was pretty cool, so with a lot of puttering on Photoshop to make it almost visible … You’ll have to take my word for it. It’s a snapping turtle. I know because that’s the kind of turtles we have around here.

It’s swimming in the very shallow water of what was left of the pond at Manchaug a week ago. We’ve had some rain since, so I’ll see tomorrow if the situation has improved.

Garry says it looks like a blob, but it was visibly a turtle a split second before I pressed the shutter. You can’t win them all. Because you’ve been patient, I’ve included other pictures from the same day of shooting at Manchaug.

FLOATING GARDENS

It’s amazing what a great landscape architect Mother Nature can be. I’m especially fond of gardens that float on the water. These are some of the water lilies on local canals, rivers, and ponds.

LILIES IN THE WOODS

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The day lilies have spread from the garden to the woods. Backlit by the sun, they are truly glorious. And huge. I know I’ve gotten shorter … but I’m pretty sure that lilies didn’t use to be 6 feet tall … or were they?

CATALPA, ASTILBE AND …

Hurricane Sandy took out my favorite catalpa tree a couple of years ago and I thought I had forever lost those beautiful flowers. But there was another youngster waiting in the wings and this years, it has bloomed, as magnificent as ever. My absolutely all time favorite trees.

In another garden surprise, the white astilbe survived the winter and has returned to brighten our summer garden. Only the white ones made it. The pink, red and blue ones are apparently fatalities of the ugly winter of 2013-14. I was glad to see these. One of the few flowers that will bloom in shade, these are planted in the woods on the other side of the driveway, not far from the Solomon’s Seal.

As the season progresses, maybe the garden will hold additional surprises. I hope so!

ON WHITINS POND

whitins dam flowers

The dam at the bottom of Whitins Pond is different from any other dam in the area. But as far as I can tell, each dam — approximately 50 in all — is unique.

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I found this one particularly interesting. It isn’t a particularly tall dam, but it is long and arching. A pretty dam.

whitins dam wide shot

THE UNTENDED GARDEN ENDURES

More from our untended garden. It’s amazing how lovely it is without any human intervention. It’s also pretty good at defending itself. The hedge roses have lethal thorns and they have spread to the point of having taken over the area.

We aren’t sure how we can even remove the one bush that died during the winter because the thorns are no less vicious in death than they were in life. Those little hedge roses are as friendly as barbed wire.

They resemble nothing so much as beautiful, rose-scented barbed wire. These are  planted on estates to protect areas from animal and human invaders. Highly effective. They don’t merely grab. They tear through gloves, sleeves and jeans. One would need body armor to approach those wicked thorns without getting cut.

Yet they look so lovely and smell like heaven. There’s a metaphor there.

FRAMING THE SKY

trees framing blue sky river bend

This brilliant day was a perfect opportunity to use trees to frame that incredibly blue sky. It was an amazing color, almost surreal. I stepped back into the shade, the trees were silhouettes. I pressed the shutter. Voila. A summer sky, framed by trees, captured forever.

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Contrasts

Light and dark, tall and short, happy and sad — this week, share a shot that captures a contrast.

ANOTHER LOOK AT MANCHAUG – GARRY ARMSTRONG

It’s always interesting shooting in tandem. You’ve got the same stuff to look at and some of your pictures are likely to be very similar. But the eyes are different.

The cameras have different lenses and no two photographers ever shoot the scene exactly the same way.

This is Garry’s look at Manchaug.

DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING

Groundhog Week – If you could relive the past week, would you? Would you change anything?


It has been a simply gorgeous week. The weather has been perfect and nothing memorable has gone wrong.

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We haven’t needed either heat or air conditioning. None of our dinners burned and the new convection oven we bought works like a charm.

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I wouldn’t change a thing. As I look out my window, it’s another perfect summer’s day, the kind of day about which Shakespeare wrote sonnets.

Sonnet  18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
   So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

And again today, the sky is bright blue. The air is warm with a zephyr breeze ruffling the leaves while a yellow sun lights the world. I’d have to be mad to meddle with this!

A DRY SEASON

Although we have had a few heavy rains, and certainly had enough snow melt from the winter, spring has been dry this year. I knew it in my head, but I didn’t really know how dry until we visited Manchaug today.

This first gallery is Manchaug, spring and summer 2011.

It was dry. Under the little arched bridge, there was just mud. Except for a trickle, the stream is gone. The lake was reduced to puddles. The falls are gone.

I shot these pictures in May 2012. The previous winter had been without a single heavy snow. The dam was not quite dry, but certainly greatly reduced.

Drought at Manchaug

We all share the same aquifer, everywhere in Massachusetts. Although each of us has our own well, the source of our water is the same and I hope everyone will remember that and use water sparingly.

Manchaug won’t be gone forever. The water controllers probably closed a dam upstream to fill a lake for the Fourth of July festivities. Nonetheless, I find it unsettling. In the years I’ve been visiting Manchaug, I’ve never seen it so dry. Most of it is gone.

I hope we get some rain. Soon.

TERRIFIC TUESDAY TRIALS – ALL ALIKE?

Preeti Kanwar at LenzExperiments has started a new challenge, Terrific Tuesday Trials. This week’s theme is “all alike” so, having a few spare pictures around, I thought I’d come out and play with the other kids.


You almost always see swans in pairs. Swans mate for life, so where you see one, the other is rarely far behind.

And of course, when there are babies, you’ll see the whole family, in formation like a proud armada on the pond.

A SOLSTICE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Set for Solstice – Today’s Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere). How are you taking advantage of the extra hours of light this time of year? Do you like it, or do you already miss earlier sunsets?


I finally crawled out of bed this morning … an hour ago? Yeah, that’s about it. I noticed it was bright (not before coffee!) and cool (thank you!). After I scrubbed my teeth and limped to the kitchen, greeting each dog as I made my way past the big biscuit canister to the coffee machine to press “start” lest I not have coffee. Without coffee, I don’t care if this is the final day before Armageddon, I’m not ready!

The pig-chicken-cow antique canister where i store the Greenies

The pig-chicken-cow antique canister where I store the Greenies

Summer Solstice. What do you know? Time just crept up from behind and whacked me on the head. Last I knew, it was the Vernal Equinox and I was on a gurney rolling into the operating room where they were sharpening their scalpels for me.

And look! The world moved a quarter way around Old Sol and it’s summer. Already. I should rip my clothing off and go dance under the moon tonight to honor Mother. I’d probably get munched on by millions of flying jaws who want my blood. Maybe that’s their own tiny way of honoring Herself.

Anyway, a naked me in any light might scare the wild creatures so much they’d move to another part of the forest. It might even scare me half to death. It’s not pretty. Mother Gaea wouldn’t mind, though. She’s entirely open-minded. Just mark me “crone” and move on.

Petunias on the morning of the Summer Solstice

Petunias on the morning of the Summer Solstice

It is a beautiful day. Couldn’t ask for a nicer one. This kind of perfection is rare in these latitudes. When the still sleeping husband arises from his dreams, maybe we can talk about an itty bitty excursion to one of the many waterways. With photographic intent. Perhaps fit in a little dinner afterwards at a favorite Asian eatery. I like that plan.

Of course, it’s just my plan and I’m half a pair of oldies. It wouldn’t be fun without the other half. Strange how closely connected we are. Much closer than when we were when younger and working separate jobs, going separate ways.

I guess that’s what happens in retirement. You get very close or pull apart. I know a lot of old couples who discover on retirement they can’t stand each other. A bit late to make that discovery, I should think. Not like you’re going to rebuild your world at this late date. And who would want to? Of course, we don’t always have a choice in the matter but I refuse to think about that.

My getting old is barely acceptable, but Garry is forever young to me. The world is always young too. Bright green leaves, flowers, waterways — they all constantly renew their youth. That’s amazing, isn’t it? If only we earth-bound creatures could do the same.

I’ll ask The Mother if she might make an exception while I do that naked dance under the moon.

WINTER DAWN O’ER THE WOODS

Coming back as the sun was rising from an overnight radio show, I managed to get these few shots before my battery died.

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It doesn’t take long to change a battery, but this light only lasts a few minutes and would have been gone by the time I’d swapped it.

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These are all posterized … just a bit … for dramatic effect.

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BETWEEN THE BANKS, THE BRIDGE AND THE DOCK

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between — Danielle Hark of Broken Light Collective challenges us to photograph between. This week, capture something between two things, reflect on the process of transition, or interpret this word in your own way.


Water is always between. Between banks, between shores. In the first pictures, it fills the space between the bridge and the dock … fills it with reflections of the trees along the shore. Gently shining.

Between bridge and dock river bend

In the second photo, the canal contains the water between two banks. Made by men, the canal has been unused for more than 150 years. The passage of years has gradually returned it to being a natural waterway, regardless of its origin.

Between the banks of the blackstone canal