RIVER FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Wildflowers by the Rivers-FOTD – 06/10/19

After Owen chopped down the meadow behind our house, we decided to go out and take a few hundred pictures. I really don’t think we can take any fewer.

It was a lovely day. Warm, but not too warm, with just enough breeze to smell the freshly cut grass … or whatever it is we grow back there. I’m pretty sure there’s some grass involved, but there are a lot of other things in there too. Flowers and weeds and crabgrass and dandelions at the least and who knows what else. Probably some random flowers blown there from our garden — or someone else’s.

Buttercups
Yellow flowers in the river
River reeds
A field of buttercups

We saw a pair of Mallards on the river, too, though we didn’t get much of a shot. We both tried, but we didn’t have time to more than aim the camera and hope for the best.

The Mumford Dam – 1910

No children playing in the water today, but a father and his young son — he couldn’t have been more than five — were fishing and a couple about our age were kayaking. And there were people there to just hang out and watch the water run by — and of course, us. Cameras at the ready.

And more buttercups

I’ve never seen so many buttercups. There were also tall yellow flowers growing in the river in Uxbridge, reeds by the river … and I had to include one picture of the dam just because it was so lovely.

REMEMBERING WARM SUMMER DAYS – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s sleeting. It’s the followup to the snow that just ended. I’ve heard the freezing rain is next on the agenda and my feet are cold.

My feet are cold all winter. The rest of me is okay, but from the ankles down, permanent frostbite. It seemed like a good day to think about the river and the bridge and fishing along the Blackstone on a warm summer day.

Garry and I took a lot of pictures last summer. I went backward in time and processed a few new ones. It’s not that I don’t like winter. In a lot of ways I do, but it is difficult to do a lot of things. Like, walk up the driveway without falling down.

And although we are careful with our car in the winter, it’s surprising how many people don’t seem to realize how dangerous the ice flying off the top of their cars is to everyone else on the road. Today, on the way to the hospital we had to pass two big trucks while chunks of ice were flying off them. Several big SUVs were carrying a lot of ice and snow too.

Seriously folks. You live in the north and it is winter. Clean your car! If we can do, so can you.

Maybe time for a little dreaming.

The deep green of the trees. The quiet shine of the river. Reflections of the sky and trees. Kids with their fishing poles.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I’m sure I’ll complain about summer, too. I was born to live in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, I’ll relish my memories of warmer days.

WATER LILIES ON RIVERS, PONDS, AND CANALS – Marilyn Armstrong

Water Lilies On the Rivers, Ponds, and Canal


We have water lilies growing on almost every water surface, from the tiniest canals to the widest ponds, and along the edges of all the river. Some summers, they nearly choke the rivers.

The ducks, herons, geese, and swans don’t mind because they eat them, but when water levels are low, the fish and turtles have trouble swimming through the roots.

Not a problem this year. We’ve had so much rain that there’s plenty for room for anything that loves the water!

To see the pictures individually, just click on the gallery and use to arrows to go from picture to picture.

WHAT IS THAT SOUND IN THE BASEMENT?

We were watching “Father Brown” on Netflix and in the back of my head, I was hearing a grinding sort of sound. I could not identify it, but it was coming from the basement. I could barely hear it … but it was there. It isn’t the sound our boiler makes and it didn’t sound like the dehumidifier.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Odd sounds in the house always get me investigating. I can’t ignore them. 

So I went downstairs to look around. Aside from realizing that we really are overrun by mice, the sound had stopped. I shrugged and went upstairs, pondering how the mice — which we used to have under control — went so crazy. I think it’s because no one lives downstairs now, so they’ve the run of the place. They are living here, but as far as food goes, they are “ordering out.”

Woods in winter – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Snow starting in early winter

Our Pest Control guy assured us they aren’t eating our food because you can follow the trail of acorns from the trees. Our oak trees could feed a world of squirrels. It turns out, they are already feeding a world of mice.

Living in the woods is wonderful and romantic. It’s also messy and invites many uninvited guests to drop by and stay awhile.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Today, we took Gibbs to the vet. It was his annual visit. He needed to be tested for heart worm, though I know he doesn’t have it. As we were driving home, I noticed all the little streams looked more like real rivers. Everything has overrun its banks.

The Mumford and Blackstone Rivers are full and the dams wide open. Even the usually shallow Whitins Pond is deep and wider than usual.

Manchaug Dam

That was when I realized what that sound was, the one I heard last night. It was a sound I had nearly forgotten because it has been years since I heard it.

It was the sump pump, pushing the water out of the sump under the house.

Flooding!

If we didn’t have a sump, a pump, and French drains, we would be up to our kneecaps in water downstairs. For the first time in more than a dozen years, we are facing the likelihood of flooding in the valley.

We are pretty well prepared for it because when we first moved here, we had some serious flooding issues. Before we even fixed the roof or put up siding, we were adding French drains across the entire front of the house, down the driveway and through the backyard into the woods. The sump and pump came about two years later and we haven’t had any flooding since.

Of course, if the water gets bad enough, nothing will stop it, but we don’t live on the edge of a river — though many people around here live very close to the river. We have a lot of rivers and tributaries and streams and ponds.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We are a major water source for all of Massachusetts as well as parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is the reason I get so worried when we go through long periods of drought or semi-drought. It isn’t just “our” well. We are all linked to the same underground waterways and rivers. The water belongs to everyone.

SUMMER MEMORIES

It’s getting cold. It stayed summer through most of October and has been warm even through last weekend, but it’s definitely chilly now. Especially at night. There has been snow in the Berkshires. It’s not here … yet … but it’s a warning. I was cruising through photographs from this year and found the month of July.

We took quite a few pictures during the summer and for some reason, have done very little with them. I went back and processed a few favorites. As winter approaches, maybe what we all need are memories of summertime.

The deep green of the trees and the quiet shine of the river. The reflections of the sky and the trees. Kids and their fishing poles.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The oil truck came yesterday. Soon it will time for heat, but for now, just memories of warmer days.

A PEEK AT FALL THAT HAS ALREADY LEFT US — GARRY & MARILYN ARMSTRONG

We didn’t get more than a peek at the full autumn colors this year.


Home again.

It was late October by the time the leaves fully changed … and within hours, the rain began to fall. It was heavier rain, lighter rain … and finally, it ended in a crashing storm with high winds (I think they gave it a name — Phillip? I think?).

Gibbs and the great out-of-doors

Almost a million people in New England lost power and some still don’t have it making me feel even worse for those poor souls in Puerto Rico who must be wondering if they will ever rejoin the modern world.

The Mumford River — full foliage!
Photo: Garry Armstrong

There is nothing like the loss of basic power to make you realize what the 19th century was all about.

Except, of course, we were set up to function in that world back then … and now, we most assuredly (at least around here) are not.

Be that as it may, this is what we got of the fall. The only really brilliant shots were taken at the very end of the month and in the rain at that. A few were taken with my least auspicious camera, the tiny one I tuck in my back when I don’t think I’ll be taking pictures at all … what I call my “just in case” camera. At least that.

Both Garry and I took one set of shots on our own property during the rain and let us all applaud for Olympus OM-D weather-resistant cameras! It is nice knowing that a few drops of rain are not likely to ruin my cameras for good and all. I tried to label the pictures as his (Garry’s) and mine, but sometimes the signature is a big small and hard to see.

Since today is the first of November, it is a very good day for a photo roundup of our Autumn shots. There will be some more, of course. November is the month of the bronze and golden oak trees.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

They always run a month behind in the glorious color sweepstakes of autumn. Sometime during this month, when the light is just right, the sun will drift through all the oak trees and turn the rivers to gold. Meanwhile, enjoy what we were able to get of this year’s colors.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

BRIGHTER TREES DOWN BY THE FARM

The river down the road – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

We’ve finally got some color in the trees, but … well … so far, no great shakes. Maybe this weekend? That’s what the weather people are saying. But really, we are guessing. The problem is that it is hot again and this very warm weather does not encourage the trees to fire up.

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong
Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Instead of going where we usually go — one of the dams or parks nearby — we drove around the block. I sometimes forget there’s a river a few acres behind our house. It’s a tributary, but I don’t know its name.

Maple tree by the picture window – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

The river runs along the road — whatever its name is — which you could get to faster (in theory) by walking from our house straight through the woods. The odds favor anyone trying to walk through the woods breaking an ankle in the process, so we take the longer route. We drive.

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong
Cornfield – Photo: Garry Armstrong

I am not also not sure we would find our way through the woods. It is surprisingly easy to get lost there. I used to walk there in the early spring, before the leaves came out because I could see the pointy white peak of my tepee from pretty far away. It was up on the ridge above the woods, so it was easy to see.

Marilyn and friendly cow – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Shooting the river – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Garry took my camera instead of his. Which isn’t a problem since they are essentially the same, but mine has a fixed focal length lens on it most of the time. He couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t “telephoto.” Until he realized it wasn’t his camera.

I should put labels on things.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We took a lot of pictures and I haven’t even half processed them. I’m hoping we get better foliage shots in the weeks to come, but these are pretty if unspectacular.

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong