Downtown Uxbridge on a sunny August day. Garry’s Armstrong’s Uxbridge.
It was the middle of the day. Quiet for a Tuesday. Maybe it was the heat. Or more likely, the humidity.
This marks the last full month of summer as our world turns, here in the northern hemisphere. August closely resembles July, although the green has deepened.
If you live in this region, you know that the color of the leaves changes from month to month from light golden green in the spring, to this very dark — old green — of late summer. As if the last of the summer months is putting out all the green it has got before the great burst of color in the autumn.
These pictures were all taken during the past week in and around the little town of Uxbridge. The majority of them were shot on the Commons in the middle of town, the remainder either on our property, or along the Mumford River which runs through town.
Most of them were shot with the Pentax Q7, the little camera that can and does.
Cardinal Guzman, the host of this challenge, has totally blown us away with his own galleries this month. Absolutely, go take a look. Amazing photography.
I fell in love with the Blackstone River when we moved to the valley fifteen years ago. The birds that nest along its length, its canals, tributaries, bridges, ponds. Even the swamps make this one of the most beautiful places in the world. In the autumn, the trees are magnificent.
We have swans and geese, ducks and herons. Turtles, beaver, fishers, and trout — they all live along or in the river. It is a rich and fertile world. Beautiful and ever-changing.
Manchaug is a favorite place. It’s a beautiful piece of the river and an elegant, high dam. The tiny town of Manchaug — technically, it’s part of Uxbridge — is a jewel.
They open and close the dam depending on rain fall and water levels. When it’s full and flowing, you can be sure we are not in drought conditions.
The cemetery is in the center of the town, across from the dam and just a hundred or so yards from the river itself. It’s up on a hill, so it never floods, even when the rivers rush over their banks. The people who created that cemetery knew about the rivers. And flooding. They picked a beautiful spot, but dry and safe for the bones and memories.
An old cemetery, dating back to the early 1700s. It contains traces of many generations of those who lived and died in this town, this valley. Folks who lived along the Blackstone and its many tributaries, fished in its lakes and streams. They fought in our wars and are buried here — Revolutionary War soldiers, Civil War veterans as well as those who fought in all the American wars since.
Every Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, the cemetery blooms with bouquets and flags. The schools bring the children here, so they will remember too and traditions will be maintained. They bring bouquets of wild flowers or from the back garden. Lilacs and lilies, scarlet poppies … and always a miniature American flag. Even if there’s no special holiday, the cemetery always shows signs of caring, remembering.
Maybe it’s easier to remember here, with such a small population. Is that it? Or it’s just part of the air, the character, the history. Remembering is what we do in the Valley.
The cemetery is one of my favorite places. We’re newcomers after all, only living here 15 years. Our ancestors — Garry’s and mine — come from Sligo, Antigua, Minsk, Bialystok … from tiny villages in Ireland and the West Indies and the shtetls of eastern Europe.
Valley people have been here longer. Many came from French Canada in the late 19th century to work in the mills. Another large group formed the dominant Dutch population. They built churches, businesses and factories, dairy and truck farms, shops, horse farms and sawmills. Their names are prominent wherever the rivers run.
Newcomers, like us, aren’t rare anymore but far from common. We have no ancestors in the cemetery, at least none about whom we know. Anything is possible in America.
The valley is the only place I’ve lived where the majority of families have lived in the town or in a nearby villages for three, four, five generations. “We’ve always lived in the Valley,” they say, meaning as long as anyone can remember. If gently prodded, they may recall at some point, long ago, they came from somewhere else … but some can’t remember when or if it’s true.
I point out they must have come from somewhere because unless they are Native American, they came to this place, even if a long time since. They get misty-eyed trying to remember old family stories handed down when they were young. Hard to remember, they tell you. “You know, that was 75 years ago … a long time.” We nod, because it was a long time ago, longer than we’ve been alive, and we aren’t young.
So another year passes and little flags and flowers bloom in the old cemetery in the middle of town.
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