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1788 FORGE HOUSE MONOCHROMES

It is on the corner of Route 140 and Chestnut Street in Upton. I don’t know who maintains it, but somebody takes pretty good care of it. Maybe it’s the state, perhaps some private party has undertaken its upkeep.

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It was a shoemaker’s shop from 1788 until 1938, when it became a forge. It is still known as “Forge House.” It has remained essentially unchanged since its conversion in the 1930s.

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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.

whitins dam close

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

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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.

leaves frame blue sky river bend 2

 

Contrasts

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

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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.

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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.

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BOATING ON THE BLACKSTONE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

A bright shiny Sunday afternoon in June. At long last, it’s okay to take a canoe or a kayak out onto the Blackstone River. It’s been a long time awaiting.

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You still aren’t allowed to swim in the river for a number of reasons. In this particular part of the river as it runs through River Bend Farm, the huge number of snapping turtles makes it unwise to even dangle your toes in the water, much less swim.

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And the river still is sufficiently polluted to make swallowing the water or getting it in your eyes not such a good idea. But boating is officially, finally okay. You can take your raft, kayak or canoe out on the river.

It’s a fine thing to do on a lovely Sunday in June.

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THE FLOWER PLACE IN TOWN

There’s a place in town that sells flowers. Flats of pansies, Vinca, miniature roses, zinnia and other annuals. When I was still planting, before I ran out of room and my spine ran out of flexibility, I bought a lot of stuff there.

violet petunias

It remains a wonderful place to buy flowers. They dead-head everything and never let it dry out. Their plants are always healthy and bug free. Inconveniently — but typical of small businesses in town — they only take cash and checks.

Purple striped petunias

Fortunately (and rarely!) we had enough cash because it turned out, the checkbook was back home and not in my bag as I thought it was. It was good to be back. It’s been more than a year. I needed a flower fix.

White begonia

They sell hanging pots. Fuchsia is my favorite, but if you want some, you have to get there the same day the fuchsia arrives. Otherwise, it’s sold out. The fuchsia came and went in a single Saturday last month. Before I was ready, it was already too late. So we won’t have them on the deck this year.

purple petunias

Last year I had two magnificent fuchsia plus a scarlet begonia to die for. This year (so far) I have my two hanging pots: a white begonia and a purple and white striped begonia. I’ll probably get one more standing pot and that will be enough.

Whenever I look out through the french doors in the dining room or the dutch door (international doorways?) in the kitchen, I see my flowers. Summertime is short in the valley, but it can be beautiful.

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FATHER’S DAY AT RIVER BEND FARM

River Bend Farm river

There were no swans out on the pond, probably because people were there – boating. It’s the first time I’ve seen people on the pond. I’m sure it confused the swans almost as much as it confused me. There is a small boat launch area and always has been, but I’ve never seen a boater on the pond. Maybe I just missed it.

River Bend Farm Father's Day

I was trying to think of a place to go and realized it’s been a long time since we visited River Bend Farm. It’s one of the many parks along the Blackstone River, part of the Historic Corridor in which we live.

River Bend canoe

Being Father’s Day and perfect weather — as good as weather can be — we had plenty of company. Families including as many as four generations and lots of dogs.

River Bend June

A fine day. It’s our reward for surviving the long winter.

Garry at River Bend

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TAKE IT SLOW

Extra, Extra - A beautiful photo is one thing, but a photo with an unexpected detail has personality and pop. This week, share a photo that has a little something extra.


It’s summer in the valley and at least one resident knows it’s time to take it slow and enjoy the sunshine down on the farm.

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IT’S IN THE BACKGROUND

Extra, Extra - A beautiful photo is one thing, but a photo with an unexpected detail has personality and pop. This week, share a photo that has a little something extra.


Watch the changing background …

 

Benches and Garry

Benches and Garry

Sneaky teenagers

Sneaky teenagers

OUR TOWN IN THE VALLEY

Blog Your Block

In this week’s writing challenge, you are invited to write about the block on which you live.


We don’t really have blocks or sidewalks. Or streetlights. We have trees, rivers, lakes, ponds and a rich variety of wildlife … but blocks? That’s a city or suburban thing.

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This is the Blackstone Valley, part of the Blackstone Valley National Historic Corridor. Where America first built working mills using the Blackstone River to power them. Eventually we also had a canal, then a railroad. Stuff made in the valley was carried to the world. Then, as the 20th century dawned, the mills closed. The work went away and so did many people. The town went to sleep.

Our town hasn’t made it into the 21st century. It never entirely accepted the previous century either. It crawled forward — unwillingly – until the mid 1950s, then dug its heels in and said “Hell no, we won’t go.”

There we stayed. A pretty, quiet town. Very few shops, no movie theater or bowling alley. No public transportation — not even a taxi . No cute little coffee shops or sidewalk cafés.

Canal in spring - May

If that’s not enough, Boston’s an hour and a bit away. Worcester is just up the road. You can get to Providence in about 45 minutes. Depending on traffic. Other than natural beauty, an abundance of churches and a beautiful if underfunded public library, whatever you want probably isn’t here.

We have a new high school. Twenty years of arguing about it and after allocating millions of dollars to upgrade the old high school — and having those funds vanish with nary a trace – we were told we had to build a real High School or lose accreditation which would have made it tricky for our grads to get into college. So we built a high school — and our taxes have gone sky-high.

There is a mythos surrounding small towns. Cue “The Andy Griffith theme. On TV and in Hollywood, people disagree but everyone has the best interests of the town at heart. Good will always wins the day.

Here, the combination of nepotism, bullying, and a willingness to make life impossible for anyone who gets in their way has enabled a few families to keep a stranglehold on the town.They take what they want and the rest of us can stick a sock in it. Town meetings end in fistfights and verbal brawls that generate enough bad feeling to last into the next decade.

UU Church 44

I didn’t understand the intensity of the acrimony until I covered — for a local paper — debates preceding town council elections. The level of venom was a wonder to behold! Each candidate was nastier than the next – closer to Stephen King than Andy Griffith.

Yet, I love the valley and our strange little town. Our village is home to many wonderful people. Caring, smart, and good hearted folks. Sadly, they aren’t in charge. The other wackos run the place.

And life goes on. White picket fences and green lawns. Big shade trees, lots of room for children to play and safe streets. Only two traffic lights in town, one of which is probably redundant. It’s a pretty place to live. Just avoid the politics and enjoy the scenery. Things are not quite what they seem.