WATERLILIES ON THE RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

We may not have had much in the way of an autumn, but the water lilies have been blooming like crazy. Everywhere. All different kinds of lilies.

Water lilies along the Blackstone
Wide lily pads
In the bend of the river
At the pond in Whitinsville
Autumn lily pads
Flowering lily pads
Flowers in the water.

WHICH WAY DOWN BY THE RIVER – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

Which Way Challenge: October 4, 2018

And finally, it stopped raining. The sun came out, the sky was a rich, bright blue and I can see the tree changing. If the weather holds, by the middle of next week, we should be a marvel of autumnal splendor.

Walk to the Blackstone Canal
The path along the canal and the little bridge to River Bend
Little bridge and dock

Right now, it’s the maples that are brilliant. They are always the first. More will come. The majority of the color is along waterways which is also where you most typically find batches of maple trees.

Country road, autumn trees
Maple on the lawn in October

We went out today and took a lot of pictures. There are so many, I’m not even sure where to start working on them, so I guess it will be a few at a time for various photo challenges.

Resting by the river

Now I’ll go see what I can find for Which Way!

RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PLACE WITH GREAT LIGHT! – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Right Place, Right Time!


Right place, right time is the name of the photography game. That and the right light. Most of my best photographs were a combination of having a camera when I needed it and being where something happened worth commemorating.

From sunsets to laughter, it’s always about being there and having a camera ready. I always keep a camera with me and even though it weighs down my bag, you just never know what out of nowhere, suddenly, there’s a great picture.

Herons are pretty good about standing still while you take their picture. Unless you startle them.

Waiting for me in the river, one Great Blue Heron

The thing was, I didn’t have a long lens on the camera or even with me, so instead of zooming, I had to creep up on him.

More heron!

The ground was mucky and muddy, but I decided I could cope with mud because I wanted that bird. Except I was wearing open-back shoes and when I tried to clamber up from the bank of the river, my shoes stuck in the mud. My feet moved on, but my shoes stayed put. That was when I discovered I could not climb up the hill without my shoes. So I sat down to wait. I figured eventually, Garry would wander by and we’d work it out.

Which we did.

Don’t wear open back shoes in the mud by the river. And it’s always good to have a long lens with you.

A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE – WATER, WATER, WATER – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Water


Living surrounded by water, to no one’s surprise, most of my pictures involve water. Water in lakes and ponds, water flowing over fall and dams. I don’t entirely know where to start.

Dams? Streams? Ponds? Ocean?

I suppose, this being the Blackstone River Valley, it would have to be the river, its dams, canal, tributaries, ponds.

Photo Garry Armstrong – At the Canal
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
At Whitins pond …
At River Bend
Blackstone Gorge – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Bridge over the Blackstone
Summer on the Mumford
Swans in pairs on the pond
The dock at River Bend
September by the Blackstone

I think I’ll stop now. Because there really are so many … not to mention volumes from Tom and Ellin’s boat and marina. And of course, the beaches and docks …

THE BLACKSTONE RIVER – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Quintessential Bridges

When you live in the Blackstone River Valley, life is about the river or one of its tributaries. Or an attached stream, pond, lake, or waterfall. The valley has always been about the river.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s also about the bridges. No one thinks much about the bridges because, in our lifetime, there have always been bridges. But the bridges have grown old and every couple of years, one of them becomes bad enough that they have to close it down and rebuild it. That is when you discover how important all those little bridges are and how difficult travel in the valley becomes when even one bridge is down.

Bridge over the Blackstone
Photo: Garry Armstrong

We have lived in the valley for 18 years. During this time, at least half a dozen bridges across the Blackstone River have been taken down and replaced and there are many more that will need to be replaced. When suddenly, the next village over is not a 1-mile drive but instead is a 10-mile drive, you realize how important the river is and the importance of even the smallest bridge.

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!

PACKED? CHECK. CAR GASSED UP? CHECK. READY, SET, GO! (CHECK) – Marilyn Armstrong

All checked off and ready to go …

So why aren’t we gone yet? Because I need some coffee first. I don’t go anywhere without the coffee. It’s a thing.

We’ll be away for a few days. The dogs will be here and Owen will be keeping the place running well.  It’s not going to be much of a vacation year with all the stuff going on, so this is probably as close as we are going to get.

Just a few days with Tom and Ellin, then home again.

Heron in the water of the Blackstone canal …

Meanwhile, please do not get upset if I miss a few comments or fail to post. It is going to be an exceptionally busy summer, so this is about all the time off we’ll get.

I have new posts scheduled. Moreover, I’m sure I’ll find something to say, one way or the other. I always seem to find a few words lurking in the atmosphere.

Have a fine few days and I’ll see you all on the weekend.