Sometimes, Garry and I are guests on an overnight radio show. We used to do it every 5 or 6 weeks, but I was ill for a long time and I haven’t been able to do it for the past year. I loved doing the show and we always arrived home just as dawn broke. This was one of those post-radio show mornings.
This is mid March in New England. The sun in March is just starting its change from the white light of winter to the yellow sun of spring.
Yesterday we were on our way from Uxbridge to Milford.
We drove into town, but when we had to turn onto 16, it was closed. They were repairing the bridge over the Mumford. You really don’t notice the bridge until it’s closed and you have to find another route to wherever. Unlike more urban areas, we don’t have an extensive road system. We have no highways. Most roads, even the most heavily trafficked, are two lanes and none except Rt. 146 are even partially limited access.
There are only two seasons in New England: Winter and Road Repair. Road Repair is a long season and lasts from when the snow melts (thus including what we humorously call Spring) and as far into Autumn as the weather allows. Spring, when we have one, is short and is alternately known as “mud season.” If you have small children and/or dogs, you really understand why this is no one’s favorite time of year.
As soon as the snow melts and the weather is warm enough to do something besides play ice hockey or ski, every road in the region is backed up, barely passable as road crews rush to get as much damage repaired as possible before winter comes back.
Weather is erratic in New England. Winter can come as early as October or tease you by not showing up until January or February … or, in some rare years like this past one, not show up at all. But that’s rare indeed. Usually, the only question is how much snow and how cold. And if it will end in February, March or last right through most of April.
There’s never enough time. We may not have a lot of roads, but we do have a lot of weather and the amount of damage resulting from snow, ice and cold is usually more than the towns can fix no matter how early they start.
Editor’s note: The above was originally posted on July 20, 2012.
Friends come in many sizes and shapes. Horses, dogs, cats and other warm fuzzy creatures give our lives texture and joy … and old things holding memories of other times and places … these too become friends, holding our memories and reminding us of the lives we have lived and things we have done.
Old Number 2 is one of Uxbridge‘s oldest fire trucks. Long out of service, he still has his own place, standing through the years and seasons in a field across from the post office. He’s become my old friend, put out to pasture but like me, remembering his glory days.
Horses in the pasture, friendly and hoping for snack, an apple or a carrot maybe …
Many of our fur children have gone to the bridge, but they are never forgotten. More of them on other days, I promise.
One autumn day, in a rare family project, we made a couple of friends of our own … classic New England symbols of Autumn and the harvest. We made them from yard sale clothing, two bales of hay, and their painted faces on old pillow cases were created by Kaity and Stefania … at that brief period as they were transitioning from girls to young women.
Finally, we meet the farmer’s old truck. He stands in a field around the corner, behind the fire station … an old friend put out to pasture, holding too many fond memories to send him to a junk yard. Instead, he stands ever waiting if he should be called back to duty.
Just this, no more, all within a mile of home. It IS home.
Quiet this time of year. Most tourists are gone, now, so the streets aren’t crowded.
If you are a photographer, you make take it as a sign that God loves you when having hauled your reluctant body out of bed while it’s still dark, then hike half a mile carrying all your gear to the beach while all the starving blood-sucking insects in the state gather to enjoy you as their breakfast buffet.
Suffer for your art? But you get a reward that is more than worth any and all of your efforts, because before you, as the mist burns away, a sunrise and a golden sun so breathtaking rises before you … and you are there and ready.
This is a day when your camera works perfectly, your batteries don’t run out, your lens is in perfect alignment, your eyes see and you capture exactly what you want to capture … and everything is in focus.
It doesn’t happen often. When it does, when it all comes together perfectly … then you must treasure it … savor it … and share it.
At times like these, it makes you remember why you started taking pictures in the first place.
That morning I discovered wet sand reflects light like a mirror. You can see the way the tide changes the shape of the sand along the shore.
Each moment is more beautiful than the one before it. Really, the entire time is probably no more than half an hour, but it’s a lifetime of beauty.
Later, I walked to the river and found this house. This is the Ogunquit River, just about a quarter of a mile before it joins the ocean. The house is virtually part of the river.
The only way I could find to get across the river to the house was by this “bridge,” really just a piece of wood across the rapids and falls. I declined to test it.
And finally, on my way back to our room, I found a hint of autumn near the beach in a small woodland area between the marsh and the shore.
Maria Von Trapp died today at the age of 99. Here’s a bit of her real story.
Prologue Magazine: The real story of the Von Trapp Family. The real story is a lot less sweet than “The Sound of Music,” but far more interesting and believable.
If you enjoy history and like to know the real story behind the Hollywood version, this is wonderful information that will make “The Sound of Music” more than just a pretty movie with nice music.
See on www.archives.gov
This is blizzard time in New England, when the biggest baddest storms hit.
Traffic was, as usual, heavy. Snow started falling at more than an inch per hour trapping more than 3,000 automobiles and 500 trucks in rapidly building snowdrifts. Route 128 (aka Route 95) became a giant snowdrift where 14 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning, huddled in their trapped cars.
There are so many scenes that remain clear in my memory from the Blizzard of ’78.
I was smack dab in the middle of it from the beginning. I lived just down the street and was able to slog through the snow to the newsroom. As one of the few reporters who could get to the station without a car, I found myself doing myriad live shots across Massachusetts and other parts of New England.
I would like to give a special shout out to my colleagues who ran the cameras, the trucks, set our cable and mike lines, found signals when it seemed impossible and worked nonstop under the most dire and difficult conditions. All I had to do was stand in front of the camera or interview people. I recall standing in the middle of the Mass Turnpike, the Southeast Expressway, Rt. 495 and other major arteries doing live shots. Nothing was moving.
There was no traffic. No people. Abandoned vehicles littered the landscape. It was surreal. Sometimes it felt like Rod Serling was calling the shots. The snow accumulation was beyond impressive. I am or was 5 foot 6 inches. I often had to stand on snow “mountains” to be seen. My creative camera crews used the reverse image to dwarf me (no snickering, please) to show the impressive snow piles. No trickery was needed. Mother Nature did it all.
Downtown Boston looked like something out of the cult movie “The World, The Flesh And The Devil”. The end of the world at hand. No motor traffic, very few people: just snow as high and as far as the eye could see.
Ironically, people who were usually indifferent to each other became friendly and caring. Acts of kindness and compassion were commonplace, at least for a few days. Those of us working in front or back of the camera logged long hours, minimal sleep, lots of coffee, lots of pizza and intermittently laughed and grumbled. There are some behind the scenes stories that will stay there for discretion’s sake.
The Blizzard of ’78 will always be among the top stories in my news career. It needs no embellishment. The facts and the pictures tell it all. It needs no hype or hysteria.
About Photographs of the Blizzard of ’78:
There aren’t many pictures of the blizzard available. You’ll see the same shots whenever the blizzard is remembered. In 1978, everyone didn’t have a digital camera and a cell phone. People didn’t have instant access to photographs the way we do now.
If you have pictures and can share them, I’d love to see different images. All of the photos I’ve included are archive news photos. I’m betting some of you out there have photographs and lots of us would find them very interesting! You would need to scan them, I guess. Hard to remember all the way back to pre-digital.
It’s a tiny church hidden behind houses in Amherst. If you don’t know to look, you would never find it. About the size of my living room and dining room combined, the cross on top is a bit crooked. Such a small church, such a long history.
The Goodwin Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is a historic church on Woodside Avenue in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The church, built in 1910, is located down a narrow lane in the otherwise residential neighborhood. It is about 25 feet by 50 feet, styled in the Craftsman style popular at the time of its construction. It remains essentially the same since being built.
The church is named for Moses Goodwin, a local resident and parishioner. It was the second building for the African-American congregation that occupies it. The first — built in 1869 on a nearby lot — was demolished in 1917. It continues to be a social and religious center for Amherst’s African-American community.
Zion Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
Of course we knew it was going to snow today. It was all over the news last night. As it always is. For a region that gets a great deal of snow every winter, the paroxysms of hysteria on the media whenever a storm approaches is ridiculous. Almost funny. It would be funny if we didn’t get so much snow, get totally buried so frequently. This is shaping up to be a classic. Snow came on the early side of on time. First, a little storm, a couple of wet inches. A dusting, a warning, a reminder.
Then another storm. A little bigger and the air a lot colder. This time, it stuck solidly to the roads and driveway. Now, 48 hours later, another storm. Supposed to be a medium-size storm, something less than a foot, more than a dusting. Which could mean pretty much anything because amounts vary wildly from one place to another. It would be impossible to predict accurately for a specific town. We are in Uxbridge, but a couple of miles away in Northbridge, they may get twice as much or barely any.
So. Christmas is a week away and no need for us to dream of a white Christmas. What would be unusual would be not having a white Christmas. And not having a daily frenzy of reports about impending doom by blizzard.
There are so many television shows and movies, not to mention sappy posts on Facebook and other social media sites about “the good old days” … kind of makes me a trifle queasy. As someone who grew up in those good old days, I can attest to their not being all that great. There were good things about them, but it was by no means all roses.
Good is a relative term, after all. If you were white, Christian and middle class … preferably male and not (for example) a woman with professional ambitions … the world was something resembling your oyster. A family could live on one salary. If you were “regular folk” and didn’t stand out in any particular way, life could be gentle and sweet.
The thing is, an awful lot of people aren’t and weren’t people who could blend in. If you were poor, anything but white or Christian, or a woman who wanted to be more than a mother and homemaker, the world was a far rougher place.
Pure Trash: The Story: Shawn Daniels in a Poor Boy’s Adventure: 1950s Rural New England is set in rural New England in the mid 1950s. It’s a sharp reminder how brutal our society could be to those deemed different or inferior. Not only was bullying common, it wasn’t considered wrong. I remember how badly the poor kids in my class were treated when I was going through elementary school. How the teachers took every opportunity to humiliate kids whose clothing was tattered and whose shoes were worn. I remember feeling awful for those little girls and boys. Not merely bullied by their classmates (who oddly, didn’t much notice the differences until the teachers pointed them out), but tormented by those who were supposed to care for and protect them. Bad enough for me and the handful of Jewish kids as Christmas rolled around. For them, it was the wrong time of year all year round.
In this short story, Shawn and Willie Daniels set off one Saturday in search of whatever they can find that they can turn into money. One man’s trash can be a poor child’s treasure. Bottles that people throw away could be collected and turned into ice cream and soda pop. Shawn is excited. It’s going to be a terrific day. Until the real world intrudes and Shawn is sharply and painfully reminded that he’s different … and not in a good way.
The story is about bullying, but more important, it’s about being different and being judged without compassion, without understanding or love.
It’s a very fast read. Only 21 pages, the story flies by. I was left wanting more. I want to know how the boys grow up. I want them to become CEOs of big corporations so they can thumb their noses at their whole miserable society. An excellent short story leaving plenty of room for thought.
Though set in 1955, the story is entirely relevant today. Despite much-touted progress, we still judge each other harshly based on appearance and assumptions. Everything changes … but maybe not so much.
- PURE TRASH, The Story by Bette A. Stevens (greenembers.wordpress.com)
- PURE TRASH and AMAZING MATILDA on Amazon’s TOP 100 LIST! (4writersandreaders.com)
All dressed up for the holidays, Uxbridge Common is lovely at night with a frosting of snow. Designed as a poster. What do you think?
It wasn’t a heavy snow. No great accumulation despite many hours when flakes drifted past the windows through the naked trees. A frosting. Inches not feet. Wet snow that quickly melts. The ground was a bit warm for such a small storm to have much effect. Today it might have been a different story.
During the night, the cold moved in. It’s bitter. Garry had to put new blades on the windshield wipers, but first, he had to wait for everything to thaw out. A sure sign we’ve moved past fall into winter. It’s not about the calendar.
It’s about how many layers you have to wear. Which boots you need on your icy feet. The gloves that keep your fingers from freezing. The scarves and hats you need to keep your ears from frostbite. How long it takes the car to warm up before you can get some heat. It’s important to remember you can’t leave the GPS in the car — too cold for electronics.
You can’t get into the house via the deck.The wood steps are treacherous with invisible ice. Black ice, we call it. Racist ice, says Garry. But then again, he calls the big black trash bags racist trash bags. It’s a joke. You are allowed to laugh. Sheesh.
Snow is racist too, being so terribly white. Garry takes snow personally. He does not like it. I don’t think he ever did. He’s a sunshine kind of guy. A warm breeze on a tropical beach fellow, yet he is deeply attached to New England. Both he and I were raised in the northeast, New York and then Massachusetts. This part of the world smells right.We understand the light, the cloud formations. We know how the air smells when snow is coming — especially when there is a lot of snow on the way. How the clouds look when they are full of ice crystals. You can feel the weather in your bones,. More as you get older. We don’t like it, but it’s part of our world. We have become human barometers, more accurate than the maps on the weather channel.
People refer to weather without ice as “good foot weather.” It means you probably won’t fall and break a hip — a good thing. I’m wary about footing. A fall could unglue me and I need all the glue I can get.
It isn’t snowing at the moment, but there’s more on the way. Maybe tomorrow. Once we get into the rhythm of the season, it can — does — snow every day. Not a lot. A bit. An inch, maybe two. Punctuated by bigger storms of a foot or more. And so cold.
Even the sunlight looks frozen.
- What if the alternative reality is the true reality? (heysparky.wordpress.com)
- WEATHER ALERT: Winter Weather Advisory issued for Tuesday (cumberlink.com)
- The weather out here (giglinthefield.wordpress.com)
- Weekend Storm Could Bring 6-12″ Of Snow (boston.cbslocal.com)
I took this picture in the middle of a snowstorm. The image looks a bit foggy, but the fog is actually falling snow. I have tried a variety of filters and cropping. I love the picture, but I’ve never gotten it exactly the way I want it. This version is the closest yet. There are three visual areas: the foreground weeds, the middle trees and house, and the sky which tends to pixellate.
In previous versions, I cropped out most of the sky to allow me to bring up more detail in the center and foreground, but this time, I tried holding all three areas to give of the feeling of the ongoing storm.
Autumnal figures are common and popular in New England. Many are home-made, some are bought at farm stands somewhere. Where did they originate? No one knows.
Humans everywhere like creating figures. Scarecrows, political figures, Guy Fawkes. It doesn’t matter. We make them, put them wherever we have room. They make us laugh, smile, remember.
Do these common autumn figures have special meaning? Some kind of spooky history? I doubt it. You’ll see them everywhere you go. On front porches, benches, along driveways. Kids make them. Families create them together.