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Posts Tagged ‘new england’

Photo: Josh Reynolds for the Boston Globe.
Phalla Nol of Lowell weeded rows of garlic in her plot at White Gate Farm in Dracut.

I’ve really been intrigued by the Boston Globe “States of Farming” series — “occasional stories looking at Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) farmers in New England.” Today’s article addresses how a Cambodian who arrived here as child went about building a well-respected produce business.

Jocelyn Ruggiero writes that after Phalla Nol’s family “entered the United States as refugees in October 1981, they settled in Revere. Nol spoke ‘a little bit’ of English and could understand well enough to get along at the local high school, where the students were friendly. The adults in the community weren’t as welcoming.”

After an act of arson that left Nol’s family homeless, they rebuilt their lives in Greater Boston, got jobs, and made friends.

Her father “was 71 in 1998 when he retired from the New England Seafood Company and was among the first participants in the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, an initiative of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. The farmer training program supported his plot at Smith Farm, a training site owned by the Dracut Land Trust, where New Entry trained him in such skills as sourcing seeds, selling produce, using small farm equipment, pest and disease management, and drip irrigation. …

“Although Nol ‘loved the farm,’ it didn’t generate enough revenue to interest her. ‘He didn’t care about money, but me, I do care about the money.’ Beginning around 2007, however, Nol saw an opportunity for profit. She began purchasing produce from Cambodian New Entry farmers and graduates and resold those vegetables at local farmers’ markets. This proved to be a financial success.

“In 2013, New Entry found that they had more Southeast Asian crops from their Cambodian farmers than they could use in their CSA. So Hashley approached Nol with a proposition.

“ ‘Phalla was . . . already organizing and buying and selling from other farmers for her own markets,’ [New Entry director Jennifer Hashley] said. New Entry proposed that Nol become a ‘broker’ of sorts between the farmers and Whole Foods. ‘We helped her get the necessary insurance and distributor’s license she needed to aggregate orders among the farmers and sell directly to Whole Foods. We also connected her to Russo’s in Watertown to do similar wholesale sales.’ …

“Tony Russo, the owner of Russo’s in Watertown, has nothing but respect for Nol after doing business with her for eight years. ‘Phalla’s remarkable. . . . She’s honest, she’s responsible, she’s skillful. All the products she gives us are always just what they’re supposed to be, never less than that, and she’s fair with her prices. She’s a very hardworking person in a very difficult business environment. She’s a tower of strength.’

“Today, Nol leases five acres from the town of Westford and a smaller plot from the Dracut Land Trust. Her sister drives from New Jersey to help every weekend, and nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives do what they can to chip in. Although Nol pays a couple of people to plow and till, her mother, Kimsan Ly, ‘is with me 24 hours. . . . She’s my main helper. She’s stronger than me!’ Nol and her mother begin many days at 5:30 in the morning, and some nights harvest until well after dark, preparing for farmers’ markets and wholesale deliveries. Since so much of the business’s financial success is tied to her family’s help, Nol is unsure of what the business will look like 10 years from now. ‘The older we get, the more challenging it is.’ …

“Despite the challenges and despite the uncertainty of the future, she’s proud of the business she’s built: ‘My stand, what a crazy thing,’ Nol laughs. ‘At my stand, people line up, from here to there,’ she says, making a wide gesture. ‘They fight to get to my veggies!’ ”

For more on the family’s difficult history in Cambodia and both challenges and successes in American, check out the Globe, here.

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This year, while choosing ornaments for the tree, I felt particularly drawn to anything that looked like a bird or an angel. All the bird and angel ornaments went up. The small snowy ball also gives me a good feeling. It was from a winter wedding in 2011.

On Sunday’s trip to Rhode Island to deliver the kids’ presents, Suzanne prepped her porch with cozy, festive elements. The candelabra has a bit of a story. When Suzanne and John were still little kids, I bought two of these from a Lillian Vernon sale. When my children grew up and had their own homes, I gave each one their candelabra. They light theirs every year with their own children.

Suzanne and Erik allowed each kid to open two gifts early so Mormor and Morfar could see how they reacted while we were still at their house.

In addition to those Christams-y photos, I want to share a couple pictures from far-flung friends. Earle, in California, makes the magnificent wooden bowls on his lathe and is known to donate a bowl to one of his environmental causes at the holidays to delight the top donor.

Stuga40 is in Stockholm, where there is almost no sun at this time of year. She caught a little today after weeks of overcast skies. I asked her take a picture of a shadow, but she said the sun is so low on the horizon now that she might not be able to. In the end, she was able to get some very, very long shadows! The sun set at lunchtime.

But you can trust those Swedes to light up their nights with outdoor decorations and to make some kind of fun during the day, too. Stuga40, in the light green jacket below, stepped into the instructor’s role for the outdoor exercise class after new Covid restrictions kept the leader from traveling by bus. The woman in red is 91, and rain or snow, they all keep up the outdoor exercising. Stuga40 says she leads the group using Spotify and a speaker from home. One day, some passing teens and a few boys from a school class joined in.

Back in wintry New England, you can see that our big new bird feeder is popular. It arrived the day before we had a snowstorm, and it’s such fun to watch. The gray squirrel tolerates a rabbit but chased away a gang of 11 mourning doves. Also very aggressive are the goldfinches. Does anyone know (Nancy G.? Kim?) if goldfinches are always aggressive? The first day at the feeder we had cardinals, bluejays, a purple finch, a house finch, juncos, and even a red bellied woodpecker. Now it’s mostly goldfinches. I love them, but I do wonder.

There’s also a little red squirrel that makes tunnels under the snow and pops up all over the yard like a gopher.

Happy Holidays to Everyone, wherever you are and whatever your weather!

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Frost

For one of the online English as a Second Language (ESL) classes where I work as a teacher’s aide, I think up writing prompts for students who want to practice their skills. The other day, I thought of “Write about something you like about cold weather” — but I changed my mind. It’s hard even for me to think of something I like about cold weather, and I imagined it would be harder still for the students from tropical countries.

In any weather, however, there are always photo ops to be found, and I must say I loved the frost-etched leaves above. Today I thought I’d share other signs of the changing seasons.

I read the long, rust-colored band on this Woolly Bear as predicting a mild winter. It’s harder to read the conflicting signs in the photos that follow. The North Bridge and the boat house at the Old Manse look bleak enough for a tough winter. But on one day, I’m kicking through dry leaves along a sun-strewn trail, and the next trudging through snow.

The snow was actually an October surprise. It melted pretty soon. More typical for the time of year are the three scenes that follow., including the one of boys seizing the day for a bit of fishing in the Sudbury River (posted with a warning about mercury contamination).

I expect that my Money Plant — a goofy gift from the bank, of all things — will keep turning to the light no matter what the weather. I like watching its slow dance. Funny how a pandemic-constricted social being can end up befriending a plant.

The artist in the next photo noticed she could draw pictures with the charcoal from a fire pit. She’s partially covering one family portrait that features white hair made from ashes.

Whatever the season, life goes on in its random way, and my pictures documenting it are eclectic. The next one shows a farmer’s version of a Little Free Library beside the big, open-air barn where I buy produce. That photo is followed by a shot of Sandra’s magnificent baking. Her brother-in-law loves fruitcake at Christmas, and she starts making it in November. Ordinarily, she would give it to Tom at Thanksgiving, but this year, she and Pat are on their own with the turkey. Gatherings are getting too worrisome, and the governor is revving up extra hospital space in the convention center.

The last picture is of one of those charming things that people do just because they feel like it. I loved the surprise of two silver bells hanging near the library. It made me want to do more stealth decorations myself, as I did a few years ago.

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Recently, returning from a sunny walk, I heard Three Little Pigs calling out, “Stay positive!”

Sometimes my town is like that.

Today’s photos show that in New England it can be both spring and winter on the same day, graveyards are peaceful for walking, the deCordova museum’s outdoor art is currently free, and a candle in the window can symbolize hope.

Let me know what needs more explanation. Probably the Andy Goldsworthy art at deCordova. It’s not a mausoleum despite the graveyard theme here. It’s a kind of sculpture that will do magical things when there’s a heavy rain. It’s called Watershed.

The glass milk bottles are from a farm that delivers a range of necessities. (I’m feeling grateful today to all the delivery people in America. Stay well!)

 

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I wanted to do another photo post but didn’t have very many photos. That’s mainly because I have been doing my daily walk indoors when it’s not nice out. ‘Round and ’round indoors. Kind of dull.

So I went to a couple free art exhibits, and now I have more pictures.

In Providence, Racine Holly was showing some dramatic skies at a church. When I went in, I didn’t see anyone around. Very trusting. I could hear construction workers talking behind a screen at least. I’m sharing the two oils I liked best. They both had “sold” stickers. The second one was tiny.

Then I went to the Bell Gallery at Brown University, where there was a show of work by Brown art professor Wendy Edwards that had been recommended by critic Cate McQuaid at the Boston Globe. I find I like art that McQuaid likes.

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This artist had a lot of works related to reproduction. The giant peach looks great in the Globe article but up close was “too buch for be,” to quote the Elephant’s Child. Below are a few paintings I liked better.

While at the Bell Gallery, I also took a picture of a Brown University Design Workshop pedestal that I didn’t quite understand. It looks like a range of stamping techniques carved in different styles. But if you used one as a stamp, the words would be backwards. It’s probably just to show potential clients what can be done.

The final six photos reflect recent travels in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Note the path of rose petals a clever florist scattered to her door for Valentine’s Day shoppers to follow.

If anything needs more explanation, please let me know in Comments. (Did you get where I’m trying to imitate Magritte?)

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Except for the cannon balls at the Civil War monument in New York City, these photos are all from my walks in Massachusetts.

The town of Concord recognizes the International Day of Peace every year by putting up the flags of all members of the United Nations. This year I sent photos of my relatives’ countries of origin to them — Sweden and Egypt.

The Old Manse, run by the Trustees of Reservations, is decorating for fall. Its most famous tenants were author Nathaniel and artist Sophia Hawthorne. Tour guides like to show visitors where the couple carved window messages with her diamond ring.

The injured Blackpoll warbler had a tough fall migration and didn’t make it through the night. I did learn from Kim that one should put an injured bird in a “small, warm, dark box for night. If living in the morning, drip a little sugar water into mouth and release.” Something to keep in mind.

The pumpkin has an important quotation from former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black about a free press. My neighbor puts 24 small pumpkins on her fence posts every year near Halloween and inscribes something on each. This year the words are from Supreme Court justices, the 19th Amendment (giving women the vote), Massachusetts justice Margaret Marshall (making the state the first to allow gay marriage), and the like.

I wind up with another neighbor’s new tree house and a couple fungi photos. There seems to be a huge array of fungi in town this year, some of them very peculiar looking. We also have a lot of mosquitoes. Too much rain?

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I wanted to share a few recent photos. Most of them were taken by me in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but Stuga40 sent the flower cross from her neighboorhood park in Stockholm. It’s part of the Swedish Midsommar tradition.

The KindnessRocksProject seemed like a wonderful idea. You take a rock when you or others need a little kindness and you leave a rock with a kind message for someone else. This iteration of the project was at a day camp, where children were working on the messages.

The next two photos were taken in newly preserved land along the Concord River, a beautiful area for walking and enjoying nature. After that, there’s a geranium that is glowing in the evening light. If I had taken the shot from the other side, it wouldn’t have looked nearly as magical.

Next is some street art on the remnant of an old building in downtown Providence, an area where a morning walk always provides curious photo ops.

The street art is followed by three experiments with sunlight and shadow and then two of my grandchildren at the parade on the Fourth of July.

I felt ambivalent about the Fourth this year, when Frederick Douglass’s speech “What Is the Fourth of July to the Slave?” seemed more relevant than ever and the darker parts of the Declaration of Independence took on new prominence. And to the kids pictured here, all the parade meant was candy, and things did not end well.

Not to worry. Gives us a variety of goals to aim for next year.

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This is not a fox. Or as René Magritte might say, “Ceci n’est pas un renard.”

I crept up on it slowly, slowly near the North Bridge, wondering why it stayed so still. Didn’t it see me?

So much for my eyesight: It was a statue. But I did see a real fox crossing a road Friday. (I knew it must be a fox because it trotted like a cartoon fox and had a long, bushy tail.) I have also seen a fawn with its mother and a little weasel recently.

Alas, I wasn’t fast enough with the camera for any of those. I can give you mental pictures only — the deer ambling in a leisurely way, the fox trotting, and the weasel a high-speed blur.

My other photos are mostly accounts of spring in New England, although I couldn’t resist shooting the funny bar inside an actual bank vault. It was located in a Harvard Square restaurant called the Hourly Oyster.

Next you have a view of the Buttrick House garden in Minuteman National Park, an evening shot of our dogwood, a morning shot of a neighbor’s lupines (they do remind me of visiting Sweden’s west coast last year), roses, clematis, honeysuckle, and topiary.

The last two photos are from Rhode Island — early morning at an old house and yellow iris near where Suzanne’s family lives.

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There’s been a bit of a drought in my picture taking. I got so tired of winter, and now in spring I’m reluctant to shoot the same photos I shoot every year. Although when you think about it, it’s kind of beautiful that the same crocus, hellabore, and winter aconite pop up over the same creative neighbor’s stonewall year after year.

We’ve finally had some spring in New England. The very best sign of that was a lemonade stand I saw yesterday.

Two young girls were selling lemonade and flavored iced tea ($.75, mint leaves optional) and Rice Krispies Treats ($.25) while playing duets on the clarinet and violin. They told me they were raising money for a charity that provides instruments and music lessons to children in Haiti.

They were adorable. One girl pointed out their homemade signs. She said, “We didn’t have any big cardboard to make signs, so we got pizza for dinner last night.” The pizza box provided the needed cardboard.

The other pictures are pretty self-explanatory. The crocus flowers peeked up just before we had one of our numerous late snowstorms. The gorgeous architecture and shadows are thanks to the preservation ethos in Providence.

I was thrilled to see the opportunistic pansy poking through a stone curb. And the trout lilies. I had to take two shots of the trout lilies, the only wildflowers that still flourish after I took a walking class in local conservation lands 25 years ago.

(No worries: I didn’t steal flowers from the woods but was able to buy several varieties of wildflowers at a plant sale. Sometimes a solitary May Apple shows up near the trout lilies in my yard, but it is sad and lonely. The trillium never had a prayer as it is fussy about soil and likes to hang with a group. Perhaps the wild geraniums will bloom this year.)

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Yesterday was beautiful. Everyone wanted to be outside. I walked along one of my favorite woodland trails, which connects to the cemetery. At gravesites, there were more Christmas decorations, brown and tattered, than Easter ones. I think if I were a doing cemetery remembrances at holidays, I’d remove them when I took down the decorations at my house. But perhaps family members don’t live nearby.

Pansies seem to be favored for spring.

On Monument Street, a man waiting by a gift shop for his wife volunteered as I passed, “Nice to be in the sun again. It’s been a long winter.” Indeed. In like a lion, out like a lamb.

The Easter Egg Hunt was at my house. The magnificent matzoh balls (made with ginger and nutmeg) are the work of my sister-in-law Lisa.

Whatever you celebrated this weekend I hope that your day was lovely.

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Today I thought I’d start my picture roundup with Lynn’s photo from Florida. Lynn says she was first introduced to trumpet lilies when she toured Africa with her cabaret show. I definitely don’t have any trumpet lilies growing outside my house today.

What I do have is ice, snow, and shadows. Here goes. The icicles were shot back in January. The tulips were a little joke in February (I got them in the store and planted them before the snow). The other photos don’t need much explanation. You know I love shadows.

The moose is waiting for the mail lady.

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Before we head off for vacation (actually, I’m retired, so I’m always on vacation), I thought I’d post some more photos, especially as blogger KerryCan says she likes them. The general theme is winter, which began officially with the Winter Solstice on Thursday. I already imagine that I can perceive the increase in daylight. (Well, we believe what we want to believe.)

OK, what have we here? A shock of deciduous holly berries. We need to prune these bushes, but the shivering birds get to eat first.

Two shadow pictures and ESL students dancing at one Jewish Vocational Service holiday party. The dancers here are from Morocco, Ivory Coast, Puerto Rico and Haiti. The teacher is the woman in red. Everyone brought food. I especially loved the Chinese pot stickers and the Nepalese chicken curry. My chocolate chip cookies disappeared, too.

The Colonial Inn has an annual Gingerbread House display.

My 7-year-old grandson is a fierce hockey player whether on his team (Saturday 7 a.m. practice, Anyone?) or in this backyard rink created by John.

The last photos don’t really need commentary, but I thought the lost Christmas crafts were sweet and clearly wanted to be on some child’s tree. I hope they got a home.

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I wanted to share a few photos documenting a view of New England’s transition from fall to winter. (Maybe it’s not officially winter, but we have had our first snow.)

I start off here with one of my favorite photographic subjects: shadows. These are shadows of late-autumn weeds. Next we have a view of French’s Meadow along the Sudbury River. It is nearly always covered with water from the river escaping the banks.

Concord was the site of the military funeral for Tom Hudner, Korean War hero and a native of Fall River, Massachusetts.

The classroom picture was taken December 12, when students from a Providence English-as-a-Second-Language class where I volunteer gave me the sweetest thank-you celebration. Many of them also took phone videos of me trying to replicate the dancing of a Congolese woman in the class. Now I am worried about how many Facebook pages it’s on.

The gingerbread house is the 2017 version by the woman who does one every year for the town library. Each year’s is more amazing than the last. Note the little duck pond in the lower left.

The Grasshopper Shop, a women’s clothing store, put out a tree decorated with the holiday wishes of children. How sad that one child would have to wish “that North Korea doesn’t nuke anyone.”

The deciduous holly and white pine are pictured after our first snow. The town was really pretty when my husband and I walked through the shadows cast by streetlights and holiday lights on our way to dinner that night.

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Today’s photos include two beauties that Sandra M. Kelly took at the Painted Rock in New Shoreham. I think the seal and mermaid are better than any work I saw on the Painted Rock this year, and I wish I could find out who the artist was. (NWG, if you know the painter, please let me know so I can give credit.)

The cow jumping over the Davis Square subway station has something to do with the bucolic history of City of Somerville. The mysterious door to nowhere is near my house, and I never get tired of taking pictures of it.

The next few photos are of the Sudbury and Concord rivers and include two shots of a popular canoe-rental business on the Sudbury. The antique metal pole in Wayland Square, Providence, is another mystery. Is it a lamppost? I’ve never seen it lit.

I felt compelled to post another picture of shadows, my favorite subject, plus food for thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The field of pumpkins is at Verrill Farm.

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Under gray skies or sunny skies, I never tire of the beauty of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Most of the photos are mine, but three were courtesy of Bo Zhao, Suzanne, and my husband.

We start off with the boathouse that is near the Old Manse and the famed North Bridge in Concord. You can see that the grasses at Minuteman National Park are changing into autumn attire.

On a morning walk, I saw a happy little snake where the bike path meets Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. I think it was a garter snake.

The Kindness Garden was on Blackstone Boulevard in Providence. The last time I walked by, I saw that people had taken whatever they needed of kind words, and there were only a couple left.

The picture of the sidewalk poem in Cambridge was taken by Bo. I wrote about that initiative here.

The photo of the beautiful message on New Shoreham’s Painted Rock was taken by Suzanne. And my husband snapped the funny Help Wanted sign at Summer Shack. I sent it to my cabaret-artist pal Lynn, who wrote back

Another [clam] openin’
Another show
My hand is bleeding
Please stanch the flow
The tips are fine
But my nails don’t grow
Another openin’ of
Another show

The purple flower is called Blazing Star, and it’s native to New Shoreham.

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091317-snake-in-cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

090617-Kindness-Garden-Blackstone-Blvd

090917-Bo-Z-took pic-of-sidewalk-poem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

090117-painted-rock-photo-by-S-Wernevi

090917-summer-shack-seeks-piano-player

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

082917-blazing-star-RI

082917-Mohegan-Bluffs-RI

 

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