AUTUMN COMES TO NEW ENGLAND – #WRITEPHOTO – Marilyn Armstrong

Autumn Comes to New England – #writephoto

It is the end of September. Normally, we would be wrapped in the bright leaf colors for which New England is justly famous. Not so far.

We were at Manchaug a few days ago and everything was green.  We always look for the first color of the year along the water, but aside from some berries and a few yellow leaves, it was still deep summer green.

The dam at Manchaug was full this year. Lots of rain this spring and summer.

It seems to make the colors bright and show up sooner than anywhere else.

But it was green along the river on Tuesday. Today is Friday and it has been pouring for the past couple of days. Good news? The temperature is down and you can see bits and pieces of the season on its way.

Bad news? If it doesn’t stop raining soon, the leaves will turn yellow, then brown, then fall off the trees. Rain is just not the best thing for autumn colors.

Today, though I began to see — through the rain — the start of colors and even the occasional scarlet maple tree shining through the green. And finally, I saw a tree. Just one tree, mostly yellow with some red. I took pictures.

Considering how grim much of life has been, one bright tree made all the difference.

2018 – ANOTHER SEPTEMBER SONG – Garry Armstrong

I’ ve asked old acquaintance, Walter Houston, once again, to lead us with his melancholy vocal of “September Song” to set the mood.

September is a bittersweet month for many of us. For the young, it’s the end of summer,  goodbye to the idyllic warm days of endless fun and those first romantic days and nights recorded on songs whose lyrics you now struggle to remember.

It’s adieu to summer camp. I have positive memories of Silver Bay and Camp Wilbur Herrlich,  Kodak memories of Lutheran Summer Camps in the woods of upstate New York.  Roasting hot dogs, marshmallows and chugging “bug juice” around twilight campfires.

Barbecue in the yard

In the far recesses of my brain,  we’re again singing  “We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder,” “Beautiful Savior” (Mom’s favorite hymn) and “Abide With Me.” Some of the mid-teen voices are cracking as we try to go to higher notes.  Boys and girls sneak quick looks at each other, cementing romances that will be “forever.”

September fields

Pastor Herb Gibney, who was a central figure in my life from age 13 to age 48  (He was the lead minister at our wedding in 1990), would regale us with “colorful” stories we were not supposed to tell our parents.  All the hushed laughter in our tents overnight as we watched fireflies light the sky and we swapped stories that had little truth. We always wanted to be the last one to fall asleep.

September also is the pivotal month in sports.  Our baseball teams are in their final drive for a pennant, postseason berths and, if lucky,  a trip to the World Series.  There’s a lot of nail-biting, prayers to the big baseball guy in the sky and sleepless nights as our team struggles.

September by the Blackstone

It’s the beginning of football on all levels — from the NFL down to Junior High School and local PeeWee Leagues.  Here in New England,  we wonder if the ageless Tom Brady can pull off his magic and lead the Patriots to one more Superbowl.  Tom is a 40 something quarterback this year and the Patriots don’t look very super after their first two games.  Yes, I know it’s just September and early for professional football.

September is a big month for weather.

Hurricane season, in particular. Florence is still wreaking havoc with Atlantic coastal cities and there’s no end in sight right now.   We’re happy to be above Flo’s path of destruction.  We just had heavy rain which doesn’t sit well with our furry children.

The 9th month is the beginning for political hopefuls who hope to win in the midterm elections.  We’re hoping all those upset with the status quo, embrace a candidate’s campaign and participate in a BIGLY effort come election day — as in, get out and VOTE.

We’re also about to be inundated with the new season of TV shows. From what we’ve seen in previews,  don’t hold your breath unless you’re watching Candace Bergen as “Murphy Brown” returns to television.

I also noticed the Hallmark Channel is beginning its run of Christmas themed romantic dramas.  I’ll pass.

Walter Houston is wrapping up his encore of “September Song”.

Thank you, Kind Sir.   Same time, next year…

THE TENACIOUS WEEKEND – Marilyn Armstrong

 Holding Fast – Tenacious 
Weekend

Weekends used to speed faster than the mosquito you’re trying to smack. When I was working, there were a few things you knew about them.

1 – You weren’t going to get half the things done you had planned because there weren’t enough hours to fit them into one weekend;
2 – You knew how much you hated your job by how whether you hated it on Friday night or didn’t hate it until Sunday;
3 – Why didn’t people make weekdays an hour and a quarter longer so you could have a three-day weekend?

A three-day weekend was enough time to sleep for one day, do stuff that needed doing on another, and have some fun on the third. That one extra day of not-working was a big deal.

Spring
April canal and river

Towards the end of my working years, much of it was spent working electronically from home, so the pressure to somehow get “everything” done on the weekend was greatly reduced and of course now, retired, I find weekends annoying because offices are closed and I can’t deal with “stuff.” I have to remember to do them on Monday — or Tuesday in case I forget on Monday.

Retirement, after a few years during which you keep time like you used to, starts to be all of a piece. Every day is like every other day. The only reason I have an inkling of which day of the week is passing is that I schedule posts in advance. Also, when I’m planning out bill payments, I need the calendar. And, I need to remember the beginning of the month because that’s when I give the dogs their heartworm medicine.

I check the calendar to see when we have doctors appointments.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – July
August

All of this makes me think about time, calendars, weekdays, weekends. Other than appointments that occur on a specified schedule, do the weekends matter? Are they relevant? Do I care whether it is the ninth of the months or the eleventh? Other than calculating the arrival of our Social Security checks, how does calendar time affect my reality?

Effectively, time barely matters. The seasons’ matter, but I have a better sense of the seasons from being outside and feeling the weather than via the calendar. Summer is longer, winter is long and the in-between seasons — the good time — are much shorter.

September
October

Time slows in winter and the weeks go slowly when you can’t go out much. Winter lasts a long time in New England, especially when the snow begins early and the cold of winter lasts until late.  Birthdays become increasingly less critical as you get older. Not only less critical but sometimes rather unpleasant.

I don’t want to turn 72 in March. I’m pretty sure Garry doesn’t want to become 77 in April and I’m equally sure my son doesn’t yearn to be 50 in May.

First blizzard – January

Meanwhile, today is Sunday. I don’t remember what I did yesterday. I literally don’t remember anything. It came, it went. The weather is cool this weekend, but it will warm up later in the week — and there’s a possible hurricane wandering around the south Atlantic which might have something to do with us, but we aren’t sure.

March

I know it’s the weekend because Colbert and Trevor aren’t on, but football has come again. The Red Sox lost yesterday at home against the Astros. Not good.

So basically, Sunday is a day. On Monday, it will rain.

IT’S SUMMERTIME! #WRITEPHOTO – Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Summer #writephoto


Summer in England

The Jamies were an American singing group
Single Released in 1958
Chart: Peaked at No.26 on The Billboard Hot 100 in 1958

There’s a long, interesting history of “Summertime” and its historic relationship to Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox. It is possibly the oldest tradition in American baseball! I remember when the song was popular on the radio and singing it with my friends. For some reason, this is one song that always makes me feel like a gentle breeze is blowing and I can smell the freshly mown grass.

Sherm Feller, who wrote “Summertime, Summertime,” was an old pal of Garry’s as well as the public address announcer at Fenway Park for many years. He was known for playing the song regularly over the speakers at the park.

Read all about Sherm Feller and his song …

72-Fenway-Sox_14

Summertime, Summertime Lyrics


It’s summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime summertime …

Well shut them books and throw em away
Say goodbye to dull school days
So come on and change your ways
It’s summertime …Well no more studying history
And no more reading geography
And no more dull geometry
Because it’s summertime.

It’s time to head straight for them hills
It’s time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball
A regular free-for-all.

Well are you comin’ or are you ain’t
You slow-pokes are my one complaint
Hurry up before I faint
It’s summertime.

Well I’m so happy that I could flip
Oh how I’d love to take a trip
I’m sorry teacher but zip your lip
Because it’s summertime.

It’s time to head straight for them hills
It’s time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball
A regular free for all.

Well we’ll go swimmin’ every day
No time to work just time to play
If your folks complain just say,
It’s summertime.

And every night we’ll have a dance
Cause what’s a vacation without romance
Oh man this jive has me in a trance
Because it’s summertime.

It’s time to head straight for them hills
It’s time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball
A regular free for all
It’s summertime.

It’s summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime! It’s summertime!

THE PATH #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

As long as I can remember, I’ve been enchanted by paths and in particular, by paths in the woods. There’s something about them, a kind of magic. You can’t see where the path ends and any time you choose to walk on one, you could wind up anywhere from the parking lot of the local mall to an ancient churchyard.

It’s the not-knowingness that makes it special.

So every time we are taking pictures in or near the woods, I look for paths. Even tiny, obscure, overgrown paths nonetheless hold the possibility of adventure.

Mystery. A hidden future. The unknown calls out and we are obliged to follow.

The long path home – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Perfect wooded path
In Vermont

THURSDAY PHOTO PROMPT – Sue Vincent

FARMING ALONG THE RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

It has been very hot for the past week. It rained here last night. Maybe an hour of pouring rain and it must have been very local since no one else even noticed we had any rain. But my flowers are much happier and I’m sure the air feels light.

Today’s a holiday, but tomorrow, I’m hoping the weather will cool down. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow. Not an hour, like yesterday, but a full day of downpour. After which, the heat should break along with the humidity and life will be a little better for those of us for whom breathing hot, sodden air is unhealthy. Not to mention unpleasant.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Around the corner, there’s a big farm. Really, it’s our neighbor but to get to it without driving, you’d have to walk all the way through our woods and come out the other end. We have no walking paths in our woods. Just many trees, rocks, ruts and the boroughs and homes of many small creatures. A few not so small creatures. Lots of hawks and a few eagles. Skunk, raccoon, coyote, foxes, fishers, bobcats and some spiders the size of dinner plates. Frogs. Mice.

We have rabbits. We used to see them lounging around the backyard. Not these days, though. Every since the Bobcats came to live here, they get eaten. Not only the Bobcats, either. Everything eats them.

Rabbits seem to be the favorite lunch special at the diner in the woods. The squirrels have not disappeared, but they rarely come down from the trees. They are safe up there — mostly — as long as they stay up top. Even so, the hawks and eagles manage to grab them right out of their nests. Up top in the trees is still a better deal than being the Bobcat’s dinner.

Since the Bobcats came to live here, the chipmunks have virtually disappeared. They used to hang around our driveway and chatter at us. I’d tell them to “beat it” and they would argue with me. Chipmunks are back-talkers. They are worse than the dogs, though probably not worse than the Duke who is a bigtime back-talker.

Duke can also jump the fence out of the yard and does so regularly. Normally, this would put me into a panic, but I’ve noticed he doesn’t go anywhere.

Just into the backyard to nose around. He’s a thrice-rescued dog and he knows where home is. He has no plans on leaving. Bonnie is more likely to go wandering than Duke.

Gibbs is also a rescue dog and he’s not a wanderer, either. I think rescues have a strong attachment to home. They’ve had a hard life and they aren’t taking any chances!

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I thought I should mention that our local cows have pastures — several pastures — by the Blackstone River. If they graze on the south side of Chestnut street, they get the deep shade of the oak trees and breezes off the river, but if it’s REALLY hot, he lets them graze on the north side where there’s a little stream.

Calf wading in the stream

They love standing up to their hocks in the water. Turns out, cows like wading. I’ve never seen one actually try to SWIM and to be fair, the water’s not all that deep, but they will stand in the water all day look and look happy. What a nice farmer! He also feeds the wild turkey’s, so there are tons of them hanging around the chicken areas.

Author Gordon Winter, Garry, and pet chickens

The chickens used to roam free, but I think between getting run down by cars and trucks and eaten by coyotes and foxes, he finally decided that some fences were in order.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

So now, they have huge fenced yards to keep the birds near home (and out of the road) — and keep the lurking predators away. We have coyotes, foxes, and fisher cats, as well as some pretty sizeable raccoons, eagles, and red-tailed hawks. Chickens look like lunch to all of them.

If it sounds like there is river everywhere, there is. I don’t think you can be anywhere in the valley and be further than a quarter of a mile from the river or one of its tributaries or streams or ponds. Nice for the wildlife, as long as we keep getting some rain. It also means we have a LOT of wetland and swamp. You have to be careful where you park or you’ll sink right into the bogs.

The rain last night was wonderful. One and a half hours of pouring rain to wet down the kindle-dry woods. Today the garden will be happy having gotten soaked last night! Summer in the valley. The snapping turtles are growing fat. I’m sure we have lots of young herons, swans, and geese since it has been a good breeding year with plenty of water in the ponds. After two years of trees stripped by gypsy moth caterpillars, this is a peaceful summer.

I thought I’d mention this because someone mentioned it to me today. He got a snapping turtle on a hook in the river. He didn’t want to let the turtle go with the hook in its mouth, but he also didn’t want that hefty snapper to take his thumb off. Somehow, he got it done. I have to ask him how he did that. Those big snappers scare the wits out of me.

Welcome deep summer!

AND MEANWHILE, THE BEGONIAS ARE STILL BLOOMING – Marilyn Armstrong

Flowers of the Day

I almost forgot about the begonias, but they were so pretty today, I thought I’d go take a few pictures.

Still an amazing color
Pink begonias
Begonias