MAY WATER EVER FLOW – Marilyn Armstrong

WATER EVERYWHERE


There’s a lot of wetness when you live in a water shed. It flows over rocks and down the dams. It runs into little rivulets and bigger streams and sometimes, into the old canal. We have some lakes, too, including a very large one that has a Native American name that no one who didn’t grow up in this area can ever pronounce. Webster Lake, for Anglophones.

For valley natives,  it is Lake “Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg” (/ˌleɪk tʃɚˈɡɒɡəɡɒɡ ˌmænˈtʃɔːɡəɡɒɡ tʃəˌbʌnəˈɡʌŋɡəmɔːɡ/). This is a 45-letter alternative title is frequently called the longest place-name in the United States. If there’s a longer one, no one has yet told me what it might be.

It is also one of the longest place-names in any language.

Tall Ships, Boston 2017

I grew up in New York. The city part of the state and the nearest “water” were the docks along the horribly polluted rivers. Thank Pete Seeger for helping fix that so that the Hudson River is no longer so polluted you could actually develop film in the water.

I lived in Queens and if we wanted to see water without someone driving us, we got on our bicycles and rode for a couple of hours to whatever were the nearest docks. There was a tiny little lake right by my high school, though. Beaver Dam. I’m assuming that once upon a time, there were beaver there. I suspect it is gone. It didn’t seem to have any inlets or outlets and that’s usually the end of a body of water.

We never had flowing water locally. No streams, no rivers. We did have some large puddles and named them as if they were lakes, though we knew they were not. Still, they were the only thing we had, so we had to make do.

If we wanted an ocean, someone’s mother or father had to drive us to the beach. Mine was not a beach-going family. My mother had cancer in her 40s. Too much radiation, so she could not go into the sun. When she had no choice, she wore caftans and huge hats. They hadn’t invented sun-screen yet, but later, she would wear that, too.

Sunset at the marina

I liked the beach because my friends liked the beach. I loved the ocean itself and that crazy feeling of standing in the oceans, feeling the sand moving under your feet as the wave pulled out before the next rolled in. Otherwise, I never liked sand. It always got into places I thought sand didn’t belong.

Woodcleft Canal, Freeport

I remember burning my feet trying to walk barefoot to the car through the parking lots of Jones Beach. We didn’t have flip-flops then. I don’t think anyone had invented them. I don’t remember owning sandals until I was an adult.

I liked the ocean off-season better. I liked the mist on the ocean and an empty beach. No umbrellas, no couples rubbing each other with oil. No endless smell of hot dogs.

Those were the days when everyone wanted a tan. I never tanned. I got more and more freckled though and you’d think eventually they would meld into a tan, but nope. Once, I get a slightly orange hue to my skin I thought was my best tan ever. Garry — to whom I was then married — laughed hysterically.

He used to have a contest with another Black friend about who could get the blackest over the course of the summer. Garry never won because there’s a lot of red in his skin. Probably those Irish grandparents, but Michael got really dark. I was this ghostly little thing and any attempt I made to get a golden tan resulted in days of pain and peeling.

Eventually, I gave up. I did get a sort of tan the year we went for our first cruise. Garry talked me into spending a couple of hours a week at a tanning salon so at least I would look tanned. It turns out those fake tans don’t keep you from burning, by the way. I got a terrible burn on a beach in Haiti even though I was wearing a t-shirt AND a hat — and had that fake tan. Water reflects sun upwards. Live and learn.

Local tame goose looking for something to eat

Those tans weren’t “real” anyway. They faded fast, but at least they weren’t as ugly as the spray. I did try one of those and it looked like I’d been heavily involved with orange paint I could not wash off.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Living here, in the valley with the rivers, dams , waterfalls plus all the woodland … this suits me well. The rivers are shady and cool. Not for swimming, mostly.

There is either a minor pollution problem dating back to when the Blackstone was one of the most polluted rivers in the world … or there are so many snapping turtles if you treasure your toes, don’t dangle your bits in the water.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

That’s okay. It’s great watching the herons, eagles, egrets, geese, ducks, swans and other waders pluck fish from the water. It’s sad when we have a drought and all you can see is mud and you wonder what has become of all those turtles and fish … and where have the eagles and the herons flown.

Yet the fish and the turtles and the water fowl come back, despite the bitter cold and the endless winter storms. They make new life and so far, the world spins on in the valley.

MIGHTY OAKS, MOUNTAINS, AND WHERE THE RIVERS RUN – Marilyn Armstrong

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: PLACE IN THE WORLD

I guess the height of building do it for some people, but for me, it’s the mountains and the oak trees. I live in an oak forest. The trees are tall. In winter, I worry about them falling from heavy snow or ice. In the summer, I worry about wind and then, finally, about the millions of leaves that are going to fall everywhere in my world.

Followed by the snow. Again.

Sunset – Jackman, Maine

I grew up in New York and for many years lived in Boston. None of these are “the place in the world.” For me, it’s always wild places. The height of our trees, the peaks of mountains. the valleys and rivers the places against which I measure my place on this earth.

HIGHLY UNLIKELY AND DEFINITELY ABRUPT- Marilyn Armstrong

WordPress Photo Challenge – UNLIKELY

Also, Abrupt!


Yesterday it was cold and rainy and they promised today would be better. Not merely is it better.

Old hawk’s nest high in the oak tree

It’s just BEAUTIFUL. Warm, sunny, with a very light breeze. Spring arrived. Finally. I don’t know for how long it plans to stay. We’ve been teased before, but maybe this time, it’s the real deal.

Budding oak woods. You can see the damage from all the storms.
The budding of the oaks

Abrupt? Well … yesterday I was seriously considering turning up the heat and today, I’m thinking “air conditioner.” Is that abrupt enough?

Gate, from inside the yard
My carefully cropped front gate from outside … and Duke, of course.

We are not yet blooming, except for our forsythia which are in urgent need of trimming back. They are finally so big, they barely bloom at all.

Just about to bloom Japanese maple

They are huge and if not cut back soon, I think may march right into the house and take up residence here along with the flowers and dogs and us.

Inside, looking onto the deck. I’d open the doors, but Duke would be through that screen in a nanosecond.

I should mention that you really should wear shoes if you are going to walk on the path recently clipped of thorny roses. Ouch!

WordPress WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: LINES – Marilyn Armstrong

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: LINES

Out in the deserts of Arizona and Mexico, there is only one tree that can cope with the dry and constant heat: the Ironwood tree.

PROLIFIC LIFE WITH WIRES: WORDPRESS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Daily Post WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: PROLIFIC

This has not been a prolific April. It’s just plain cold. It’s the 18th today and it is not supposed to be this cold. Wet? Maybe. It rains a lot in the spring in these parts. But we shouldn’t have needed another oil delivery this morning. We got one anyway, and probably for the first time in MANY years, we are actually behind in our payments for oil.

We pay all year round to avoid catastrophic single payments, but this year has not been a normal year.

Below, a few very different looks for “prolific.”

Profusion of mics and prolific wires
Prolific wires!
The canal is most prolifically covered with fallen leaves
Violets and dandelions cover the back yard in early spring. And, should we ever have one, I’m sure they will again.
Wild growth on picket fence
Wild profusion of lilies … last spring …
Goldenrod by Roaring Dam
Prolific woodpile

HAPPY FACES

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Happy 
SMILE: THE DAILY POST WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

Happy Duke and Bonnie!

We may be glad to see the end of snow, but the dogs sure liked it a lot!

Happy anniversary!
Happy, with dogs

 

 

TWO BY TWO – SUNRISE-SUNSET

Photo Challenge – Rise and Set

For this week’s photo challenge, explore the vibrant, hopeful colors of your favorite sunrise or sunset.

Other than from the direction, you can’t tell if the sun is coming up or setting. I’ve done all the checking I can and in fact, the light is the same. It depends on the season of the year, but the coloring is identical otherwise.

And yet we are fascinated by the coming and going of the sun. Even when I was a child, I used to stand outside and watch the sky, sometimes for a full hour from late afternoon until final darkness, watching the delicate changes in the sky and the clouds and the way the light filtered through the trees.

I have not yet lost my wonder.


The rising sun in the mountains in October
A gull at sunrise
Sunset in Douglas
Sunset through clouds