THERE ISN’T MUCH SNOWFALL #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Snowfall #writephoto

It had been warm for most of December and the bulk of January. Warm enough to find myself picking ticks off my dogs. In January when I normally don’t have to worry about ticks and fleas and other noxious bugs in the weeds.

I sprayed them all down with tick poison and ordered collars for all of them. Apparently part of our “new climate” is having to protect the pets from ticks all year round.

There are not supposed to be any bugs — any kind of bugs — in the grass in January. By now, we should have a hard freeze that will last at least a month or longer. Instead, we’ve had a few cold days, then overnight, a warm wind will blow from the south and suddenly, it’s sweater weather.

From the south?

What happened to the cold north wind, referred to by the weathercasters as “the Montreal Express” because it brought bitter winds and snow from our northern neighbor? Canada has been having weather as peculiar as ours. If anyone wants to know about climate change, he or she has but to look out the window.

We are in it.

It’s happening now.

A fellow blogger in Germany has not needed a winter coat until the last couple of days and spring shows up in Switzerland in February.

I don’t know what is going on around here. The birds have stopped migrating. The bears are not hibernating. The ocean is warm inviting sharks and whales to come much closer to shore than they normally do.

Waiting on the Toad for a chance at the feeder

We got two days of bitterly cold weather, snow, sleet, and freezing rain on Sunday and Monday. One cold (but not as cold) day on Tuesday and today, it’s 50 degrees (10 Celsius) and it rained away the ice and snow. But not to worry. The temperature is supposed to drop low tonight a freeze and liquid left on the ground.

Our house is damp and parts of it are rotting from too much rain. We’ve had more rain this spring and winter than ever recorded and it’s not over yet.

Is it climate change? Can you think of anything else it could be?

HOME BAKING – #WRITEPHOTO – Marilyn Armstrong

Delicious in the Snow – #writephoto

It was the third blizzard in only two weeks. The children had gone back to the oven where at least it was warm. They were tired of snowmen. The snowmen were tired of being snow people. At least two of them were banging on the front door, knocking relentlessly with their frozen, mittened hands.

She couldn’t let them in. They would melt. No matter how hard she tried to explain it to them, they didn’t get it. They just wanted to warm up. It could be very difficult to argue with snow people.

Actually, everything was trying to get into the house, by door, window, chimney or duct. The squirrels were lined up on the deck. Eating birdseed, but they clearly wanted something more solid. Also, maybe a nice cozy bed near the fireplace.

The bears hadn’t been hibernating like usual. Maybe there had been too many warm weeks mixed with the bitter cold ones. They’d been up and around. Hitting the trash bins with a vengeance. She was pretty sure they wouldn’t mind being her personal bear rugs as long as they got some of her baked goodies.

Worst of all, everything that walked, flew or crept was eating her house. That was the biggest problem with having a house made of gingerbread. No matter how solidly you sealed it up, anything with a mouth could gnaw its way in.

She sighed. Back to the kitchen. She needed to bake a new piece of roof and a replacement front step.

A woman’s work was never done.

TEMPLE TRACKS #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

MEMORIES IN STONE
AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MINI MYSTERY
#WRITE PHOTO

You could see where the temple had been. The ground was slightly raised forming what appeared to be a circle. If you looked carefully, you could see the tip of a pillar poking out of the ground. Not full evidence of what lay beneath the ground, but certainly some strong hints.

Every time I pass that place along that old road, I wondered what lay beneath the soil.

Then, one summer, a group descended on the area and began to very carefully dig. They found the pillars of a church, but when they dug further, they discovered the pillars of the church stood on the pillars of a Roman temple. Not merely pillars, but statues and a mosaic floor that was nearly perfect.

There was more.

The deeper they dug, the more they found. The Roman temple rested on pillars of something so ancient, no one was quite sure what it was and below that, what appeared to be tombs, possibly neolithic.

The ground was clearly regarded as sacred to every people who had lived here. Now, of course, it was an archaeological park with a small fee required to enter the area.

It was seeing history reveal itself in layers, and as each layer was lifted, it was taken to a museum. When finally, the reached bedrock, they brought back a couple of pillars and a covering so that this special, sacred space, could be remembered.

What memories were part of the ground, the air, the stones?  Why this spot? Many guesses, but no answers. The ones who knew were long-buried.

THURSDAY PHOTO PROMPT – Sue Vincent – The Daily Echo

THE CALM BETWEEN THE STORMS: CALM #WRITEPHOTO – Marilyn Armstrong

BY THE RIVER: Calm #writephoto

Walking by the river on a day in the fall, the river was flat. Like a winding mirror through the hills and valleys, it reflected back the colors of the trees along its path. “Hard to believe,” thought Maggie, “That we have had storm after storm and this is the first quiet day in weeks.”

You could tell there’d been recent storms if you looked. Many parts of the river were blocked by tree limbs. Maggie hoped someone would come and clear the waterway. Eventually, all the fallen limbs and leaves would choke the river and no one would be able to use it, though the ducks seemed happy enough.

She amended the thought. People couldn’t use it, but the fish, turtles, herons, ducks, swans, and geese were content. If it was wet and they could find a bit of something to eat, life was good.

Given the weather, no one was going kayaking anyway. It was one storm after another. And once in a while, a perfect peaceful sunny day.

This was such a day. She couldn’t remember the last one, but she put all her worries in a dark closet in the back of her brain. Today was beautiful and tomorrow would have to take care of itself.

Thus, as she walked, she had no thought in her head but to enjoy these golden hours as long as they lasted.

WAY-STONES, MILESTONES: WAY-STONE #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Way-stone #writephoto


When we first moved to Uxbridge, the woman who sold us our house drove us around and the first thing she brought us to see was the Uxbridge Way-Stone. Erected and etched in the early 1600s, it was part of the marking made along Native trails, many of which later became New England’s roads. Milestones are our way-stones and they were common — still are, if you know where to find them — on the quiet paths.

Way-stone in the woods

Mostly, they point the way and distance to Boston. Some are no longer readable. Not as old as this way-stone, but old enough to have had their etchings wash away, then disappear into the stone.

We don’t have the length of history chronicling the centuries of North America that you will find in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, but this doesn’t mean no one was here. This wasn’t an empty land waiting for “energetic” Europeans to show up and make it whatever it is today.

No later than 1767

Lacking official written “history,” it simply means no one wrote books and saved them and whatever cities existed, they were not built from stone.

There’s a strong possibility that far earlier than the officially earliest known “cities” — Jericho circa 10,000 years, give or take a few millennia — there were other cities.  Maybe Atlantis? Probably built from wood or mud or from disposable materials that were movable.

Not built from an enduring substance, Jericho managed to survive, although it was built from mud. There was just enough stone included to form and shape to the ancient structures.

Jericho exists. It’s not big, but it is a city. Okay, maybe more of a large village. It’s also the only place in the area you can get blood oranges before the rest of the crop comes in. The first time I ate a blood orange I wasn’t sure it was an orange. Orange on the outside, it was blood-red on most of the insides. Otherwise, they taste just like other oranges.

Jericho today

Why does Jericho continue to exist? Because it is built on an oasis. In the very dry region that is the Middle East, if you are up on the mile-high hill of Jerusalem, you can see Jericho. It’s the green patch in the desert. Jericho lives on because it has water. I suspect in this country, tribes moved with the weather in the dry areas of the country but built more solidly where there was water.

I wonder what the history of America would be if Native Americans had written it rather than their European conquerors? I’m sure the story would be more interesting, rich with symbols and location which were well-known then, but have since vanished.

Just a thought. Native Americans lived for many thousands of years on this continent. The water remained clean. They left behind a world as beautiful as the one into which they were born. No piles of rubble, no ruins. They lived well and gently with the land. Not necessarily in peace, but without destroying their mother.

Europeans arrived and five-hundred years later, there’s considerable likelihood that we have effectively destroyed the earth.

Who were the savages?

THE HOPE OF DAWN AND DUSK – GLIMMER – Marilyn Armstrong #Writephoto

A Hope for Dawn and Dusk – Glimmer:
Marilyn Armstrong #writephoto

It could be the first light of the sun creeping over the horizon or the last rays of light as the sun sets below the horizon. It’s impossible to know. I always wondered if there was any way to tell the difference between dawn and dusk and the answer turned out to be “no” — not really.

I have seen sunrises so brilliant that they came through the window and the room in which I lay seemed to be on fire … and I’ve seen the setting of the burning orb over a bay that set the entire sky alight — 365 degrees of solar magnificence.

And yet, for all that, my favorite times are the soft rising and setting of the sun. The glimmering. A quiet rising and a gentle departure. Soft blues, golds, and pinks — the beginning and end of an ordinary day.

There has been so much craziness in our world. A peaceful start and close to the sun’s passage seems a good choice.

I am trying to find some peace in a world that seems at war with itself and certainly at war with me. I cannot fix it. The best I can do is find a bubble of quiet and hope greater powers than mine grab hold of the world and tenderly bring it back.

This continent on which I live — the northern end of the “new” world — was and still is magnificent. We have great mountains and prairies and lakes the size of small oceans. Giant rivers where the salmon have run for centuries and if we allow it, will continue for centuries more.

I’m not much on prayer. I have no idea where prayers go or if anything or anyone hears them … but for those spirits who might be listening, I offer a humble hope to hold fast to this beautiful planet.

May our better selves emerge to save us from our own savagery.

WHEN ALL THE WORLD WAS EMPTY OF HUMANKIND … Marilyn Armstrong

When the world is empty, there is a Bone #writephoto


We got the word in 2018. Twelve years to fix the world.

It had taken hundreds of years to screw it up. Hundred of years of burning coal, pouring poisons into the streams and rivers and it all flowed into the oceans. And all that while, we were doing it to improve the quality of our lives. Not only our lives but the lives of all the children and grandchildren who would come after us.

They would have the machinery to do what used to be done by hand. The world was gigantic and somewhere, there was an enormous hole into which all the trash could be put. It was an endless hole, so we’d never run out of space and would never need to worry about how much junk we were creating.

Then came the realization that it was cheaper to replace stuff and people forgot how to fix things. Gradually, the gigantic endless hole was not endless and the oceans were full of bottles and straws and floating trash.

The garbage began to spread over the land. It was a slow process, but it was as sure as the earth turning. Most of the world’s cities were full of trash. At first, it was just a little bit, as if a trash bin had been tipped and a tiny bit had spilled on the street.

Then there was more. Eventually, long after the aforementioned twelve years had come and gone, you couldn’t walk through a city or town without wading through garbage. Not just rubbish either. Real putrid garbage.

The land grew gradually poisonous. Just … a little bit. Then, a little bit more. Animals began to die. No sudden collapse. They faded, failed to thrive and ultimately … ceased.

First, the birds vanished. The songbirds and raptors. The long-legged tall birds — herons, cranes, storks, egrets. After that, the big beasts vanished. Many had gone before, but now it was the working beasts — buffalo, yak, wildebeest. Shortly thereafter, cows and sheep and goats declined as well, though no one knew for sure the reason. It just happened.

Eventually — by then no one was surprised — weird epidemics of unknown origins killed turkeys, chickens, and ducks. No more eggs. No matter which came first, all were gone.

The hogs lasted longest. Humans bred them as fast as they could, then hunted the wild ones to extinction. Soon the bees went from many to few and crops could not grow. Ultimately, all that was left was a single white skull on a burned plain where once the long grass had grown across thousands of acres.


It would be a mere hundred years until the world repaired itself. The hidden animals crept from their secret places. The woods returned and oak forests grew tall and dark and deep. A new world without people emerged, but it was a good world.

Someday, another intelligence would come and make it home. Not too soon. Not yet. First, let the ocean and air come clean.

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.

#WRITEPHOTO – THE SMALLEST CIRCLE – Marilyn Armstrong

#Writephoto – The Smallest Circle


The stones stood as they had stood for a millennium. Perhaps longer. No one knew. There were stories. Rumors. Legends.

Myths.

Despite the disastrous ending of the Druids, the worshippers lived on. Quietly, softly. Sometimes hidden in the folds of Christianity and always deep in moss and woodland, they found their way to the tiny circle to greet the dark and full of the moon, and the sun rising on an equinox.

Photo: Sue Vincent

The stones wore down through wind and weather, yet they stood and we came to stand with them. We came though times changed. Finally, we could be ourselves and worship in our way.

Time, wind, and weather will have their way. Times will change and we will become what we must to worship as we should. As long as the stones stand, as long as the woods enclose us, we endure.

We will always find our way to the circle — this or any circle — and be true to our ourselves and our truths.

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

COLORFUL WISHES ON THE TREE BY THE GATE: #WRITEPHOTO Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Colorful Wishes #writephoto


Charlene was delighted with her tree. Everywhere else, when someone had a statement to make, it was always stupid toilet paper. All over the tree and then it would drizzle or rain and for weeks, the tree looked like it had some kind of hideous fungus on it.

She had done a much better job. Bright, colorful. It was a cheerful, happy tree and what started with anger, ended in art. She barely remembered why she started “fixing” the tree. She thought something had made her angry and she wanted to show the world, but before she was even a quarter of the way through it, the project had morphed into Art.

Brianna was going to be really surprised when she stepped out of the house that morning. Not a single sheet of toilet paper. Just bright colors swinging gaily from the little tree by the gate.

Charlene giggled all the way home. Surprise!