THE CHANGING SEASONS: SEPTEMBER 2016

The Changing Seasons: September 2016


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I believe this is a juvenile black-crowned night heron. If someone has a more accurate identification, I’d love to hear from you!

I had been hoping that the trees would oblige me by changing color for me this weekend, but alas, they have not. There is some change. Bits and pieces here and there. It always happens first near water. Along the shore, near rivers. But mostly, nothing much is happening … at least as far as changing color goes.

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Still the air is quite chilly at night, though still pretty warm and muggy in the day. September had been such a crazy, busy month … so I hope I’ve captured its essence. A little bit, at least.

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What’s this «Changing Seasons» blogging challenge?

«The Changing Seasons 2016» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2016. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed. These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

Hard to believe we are wrapping up the year and heading toward the cold months. I always have a lot of ambivalence as the summer ends. I love the autumn. If it were October all year long, I’d be a very happy human. Sadly, it’s the last glory and the warm time before … well … you know. White stuff. Ice. Slippery ground and hard navigation. The cabin fever months lie ahead.

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SEPTEMBER SONG – GARRY ARMSTRONG

The calendar page has changed. Again. Just a few pages remain on this year. A few brief weeks of tee-shirt, shorts, and boat shoe weather. Walter Houston is singing in my head. Raspy and bittersweet.

It’s the beginning of baseball’s stretch drive. Our Boston Red Sox are in the mix for the post season. It’s high anxiety time if you’re a die-hard fan. Will the hitters cool off? Will the starters maintain their newly discovered success? Will the bull pen purge those relievers who are serial arsonists?

Pro football is also back. If you belong to Patriots’ Nation, you have to deal with Tom Brady’s four-week suspension. The stiff penalty handed down by the fascist NFL Commissioner who is probably a staunch supporter of Orange Head’s political campaign.

Free Brady! Brady! Brady! Brady, Almighty!

Facebook is full of posts and pictures from parents crying as they send their kids off to school for the first time. There are no posts for drop-outs.

We offer requiems for our fading summer flowers. It’s difficult to watch them as they slowly die.

The late night talk shows are packed with “stars” promoting their new series which sound like old series. I particularly object to reboots of old shows that weren’t particularly good back in their first run.

Autumn september road to home

We’re glutted with new movies, reportedly more serious than the summer blockbusters which for the most part, bombed. How in the wide, wide world of sports could you top lucky Chucky Heston’s “Ben Hur”? And no, I won’t spend money on the reboot of “The Magnificent Seven.” It wouldn’t even pay for my bullets. The old man was right.

Political analysts are dizzy, trying to explain Orange Head’s bizarre and unprecedented campaign for the White House.

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Labor Day weekend offers a brief time out for memories about summers past when we were younger and our world a bit more innocent. Think “Moon Glow” and “The Theme from Picnic”.  I’m William Holden dancing with Kim Novak. Snapshot memories of faded love affairs.

It’s a brief respite.

Walter Houston is now singing louder in my head — even more bittersweet — about those once lazy days dwindling down to hurricanes, raging fires, floods, mass shootings and Orange Head tirades blurring our collective sanity.

September Song.

These precious days I’ll spend with you…….

SEPTEMBER INSIDE AND OUT

BOUQUET FLOWER LIVING ROOM SEPTEMBER

The calendar warns the end of summer is near, but so far, summer clings to the leaves. The sky is bright blue. Usually I’m eager for fall, eager for the crisp weather and the foliage.

And the photo opportunities. New England’s autumn is the most photogenic season imaginable. Unless we are hit by tropical storms and heavy rain, it is also the most pleasant.

picture window living room September summer

This entire summer has been delightful. Almost like early autumn and for the whole summer. July and August have had little rain, lots of bright sunny days and clear skies with warm, rather than hot, temperature. You couldn’t ask for better. So I vote for keeping it. As long as summer wants to hang around, my welcome mat is out!

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Denial only goes so far. I took a few pictures of the trees in the woods … and a bright patch of yellow caught my eye.

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Earlier, when we were out in the car, I noticed the edges of the maple leaves are beginning to turn a bit rusty. It’s still warm and sunny. Even a bit humid. Regardless, change is coming. Seasons are non-negotiable.

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THE NEW BOUQUET

bouquet flowers september 2014

The painted daisies finally faded and I emptied the vase. Usually I wait until they are crisp and dry and really depressing to look at, but the daisies were so bright and cheery, it seemed cruel. In the name of kindness and mercy, as soon as they were droopy, I sent them to their rest.

bouquet flowers sept 2014

And what should appear? A new bouquet. Different flowers, different colors. I put them in the middle of the table rather than over on the wood stove.

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Now that the late afternoon sun is blocked by our little air conditioner, it’s too dark over there.

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When the air conditioner comes out of the window later this month, the flowers can move back to the top of the stove, unless, of course, we are having a little fire in it. I’ve promised myself that this year, I will buy paper logs so we can enjoy at least the look of a fire, if not the heat.

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Dam at Whitins Pond

Dam at Whitins Pond

I literally paid in blood for these pictures. I think they are worth it, though I’m pretty sore and have a feeling I’m going to be very uncomfortable tomorrow.

A perfect water lily

A perfect water-lily

Funny to discover this dam after passing so near for more than a dozen years. You really can’t see it from the road, which is where we usually shoot from and I probably heard it, but didn’t pay attention. It’s an interesting dam, not like any of the other local dams.

dam at Whitins pond

It’s not very tall, perhaps 10 or 12 feet. Water doesn’t flow over the dam as much as it comes through holes in the dam, set at various heights in a long crescent. The waters spits out and onto a plateau of flat rocks. I’m not sure what this design was intended to accomplish, but there must have been some special purpose in the design.

Close up at the dam

The old mill used to be an antique cooperative until last year. They recently converted it to an adult activity center. The senior center in Uxbridge is tiny, so this is definite upgrade. The building has been beautifully restored and its location, adjacent to the river and Whitins Pond … well, it couldn’t be lovelier.

Pink-eyed grass by the dam

Getting hits for being relevant

If you’ve ever worked as a reporter — or any kind of researcher — the instinct to follow a story persists. Sometimes, it pays off. For me, the turning point of this blog was when I got thousands of hits on a reblog about hurricane Sandy in November 2012.

November 2012 was something of a super month for bloggers. Between the presidential election and Hurricane Sandy, activity on the Internet was much greater than usual. Even people who were normally not especially interested were hopping online to follow current stories.

The thing was, the article that started bringing in all those hits was a reblog, or more accurately, a scoop. Anyone could have as easily read the same article on its original site. I was not at the top of a Google search. I tried using the phrase everyone else was using and Serendipity didn’t come up. At all. So people were seeking me out. Rather than reading the original article, they came to my site. Even giving me a point or two for attractive presentation, there were more than enough stories on the same subject all over the Internet. I’m not being modest. I wanted to know: why me?

Coney Island post Hurricane Sandy.

Coney Island post Hurricane Sandy.

I decided to analyze what I did better or differently than others. I looked at the total content for days when my numbers were very high. I realized all involved current events that were unusually high-profile. My best days involved Hurricane Sandy (November 2012), the blizzard Nemo (February 2013) and the days leading up to and immediately following the storms. Also the beginning of the new television season, the Oscars (before, after and during) and (of course) the election. And sadly, the bombing at the Boston Marathon (April 2013). Plus every time they play the première episode of Criminal Minds.

When major events occur, I write about them. Not one story, but a series of posts. I start with an article that covers the main story, then add to it. If the initial story was reblogged — often the case — I add graphics and photographs. I add commentary and analysis. My additions are typically longer and more detailed than the original. I don’t alter the original author’s text and I always give credit, but I build on it.

Nemo blizzard, February 2013

Nemo blizzard, February 2013

In this case, the original post was a reblogged (using ScoopIt) standalone post. Using it as a jumping off point, I followed a trail. I gathered pictures, stories about hurricanes and other storms. I wrote about them from my perspective, if I remembered them. Then, I asked Garry — my personal treasure trove of first-hand experiences — to talk about his experiences during the Blizzard of 1978 and other storms.

New York during the The White Hurricane, The Blizzard of March 11, 1988

New York during the The White Hurricane, The Blizzard of March 11, 1888

I roamed the web to see what was happening in various places being hit by the storm. Although I focused on Sandy and it’s impact on Coney Island, I discovered many other places along the coast which were equally affected. I posted what news I could gather about these areas.

I kept gathering and adding information, especially photographs, historical background and apocryphal stories. I just did what I always do when something interests me. I get into “bloodhound mode” and I followed the scent. The circles kept getting wider and including more locations, more events.

I eventually included stories not directly related to Sandy but which were thematically related. Other monster storms have paralyzed the Atlantic coast, some relatively recently. I love history so it was fun digging up historical information. Research can keep me glued to the computer for very long stretches. It’s how I learn.

I googled “hurricanes past 100 years East Coast” and could have filled an encyclopedia with the results. Research became stories. I hunted down historical photographs. I remembered stories I heard from relatives and friends about storms. My husband covered every storm to hit New England for more than 30 years, so he is a nearly bottomless repository of great first person experience.

Stranded cars on Route 95, Blizzard of 1978, Boston.

Stranded cars on Route 95, Blizzard of 1978, Boston.

I ultimately produced a series of stories over almost a week.  News, mood  and background stories, data, photographs. I stitched them together. Each post was separate, but they formed a continuity. One thing led to another. When I thought about this storm, I remembered other storms, wrote about the storm that hit on my birthday in 1888 … and I offered facts, stories, and historical background, sidebars, and photographs.

The combination worked. Folks came to read one story and stayed to read many more. Some of them signed on as followers. It turned out that I didn’t have such a huge volume of visitors, but everyone who did visit stayed and read as many as five or six stories. A lot of hits.

Since then, I have more visitors on a regular basis and most of them read at least two or more stories. It’s not complicated:

  1. Be current. Don’t ignore major events. You don’t even have to write the stories yourself. Which brings me to the next point.
  2. If you don’t like WordPress’s reblog format, try ScoopIt. It seems a waste of time to write an essentially identical story when someone else has already done a great job writing it. Being relevant doesn’t mean you have to write it, but at least include it by reference.
  3. When something signficant or interesting is going on in our world whether it’s a national election, a hurricane, tsunami, the new television season or the upcoming Oscars, pay attention. You don’t have to write about just that subject, but maybe you shouldn’t completely ignore it either.
  4. It’s fine to march to the beat of your own drum, but it’s good to also pay attention to what the rest of the band is playing. If you march alone most of the time, occasionally it’s not a bad idea to join the chorus … or sing counterpoint.
  5. If you can’t be relevant because there are no big stories, be entertaining. Use those lemons to make delicious lemonade.
  6. Include lots of photographs.

Ivory towers can lonely. If you want company, you need to associate with the rest of the world and pay at least some attention to what interests them. If you write entirely for yourself, it’s a diary, not a blog.