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Photo: The College Crusade Rhode Island
At Great Salt Pond, young students from Rhode Island cities learn how to make and tow plankton nets and test water quality.

There’s a lovely story at ecoRI News that I wanted to share with you. It makes me both happy and sad — happy that some underserved urban kids are getting an inspiring engagement with nature in the summer but sad that it’s unusual for them. The experiences are those that my own children and grandchildren have had almost every year of their lives, experiences that really should be accessible to all children.

Frank Carni writes, “Most of the teenagers arriving on Block Island this summer, at least those affiliated with The College Crusade of Rhode Island, are coming from communities covered in pavement. Many had never been on a boat before and most had never set foot on New Shoreham.

“The students are making a good first impression, with their observations, curiosity, and passion for the environment, despite living among more gray and black than green and blue. The island community has embraced the out-of-towners from Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and Cranston.

“ ‘We throw a lot at them and it’s amazing what they absorb,’ said Valerie Preler, program director for the Block Island Maritime Institute (BIMI).

‘I learn a lot by watching what they see and what they say.’

“For the past 10 years the BIMI’s Dolphin Program has worked with and learned from students from underserved communities from Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York City. Last year BIMI partnered with Providence-based The College Crusade of Rhode Island, as Block Island hosted a group of students from the college-readiness and scholarship program for middle-school and high-school students in low-income urban school districts for a week of learning and fun. …

“The mission of The College Crusade is to increase high-school graduation, college and career readiness, and college completion for youth in Rhode Island’s low-income communities. The organization supports about 4,200 students in middle school, high school, and college annually. Students join the program in grade 6 and continue through the early years of college, if they attend a public college in Rhode Island. …

“They learn to problem solve, study ecology by exploring the Great Salt Pond, and discuss the island’s different levels of biodiversity.

“During their visit to the museum at the Block Island Historical Society the students learn how colonists deforested in the island in the 1660s, how the island’s swordfish population was depleted by overfishing, how the introduction of deer in the 1960s for hunting purposes has led to the island’s current overpopulation problem, and why there is less bird migration to the island — more people and a growing population of feral cats.

“ ‘It’s an eye-opening experience for these kids, and for some it’s life-changing,’ [Lauren Schechtman, director of middle-school operations for The College Crusade] said. ‘Our kids don’t normally have access to these type of educational resources.’

“This Block Island adventure, like The College Crusade program, is free to the students and their families. They stay in a house rented by The College Crusade, enjoy dinners with Block Island families, and some New Shoreham restaurants help feed the island’s young guests for free.

“Besides visiting the island’s Great Salt Pond, the students go bird banding with The Nature Conservancy, learn about the Block Island Wind Farm, take a night-sky walk, tour New Harbor on the island’s west side, and conduct a beach cleanup. They also enjoy kayaking and/or paddle boarding, a beach visit, and fishing by the Coast Guard Station.”

I hope they loved the whole experience. Great Salt Pond is an especially intriguing place, where just this past weekend John, with family and friends, went seining and pulled up some real treasures: three pipe fish, a baby flounder, shrimp, and many minnows. They threw them back for another day.

More at ecoRI News, here. Be sure to check the other photos, including the one of bird banding. Our family has many great memories of bird banding with the woman who would have taught the kids in the story.

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The calendar says we have more days of summer to come, but for school children, it’s over. Also for me.

For a variety of reasons, it wasn’t my happiest summer, but one has to be grateful for the beauties all around. It certainly is my favorite season for taking pictures. In winter, after I’ve shot all the snow-covered fences and bent-over trees, the photographic opportunities are mostly versions of gray. I’m no Sally Mann, in love with black and white, although I want to get better at finding curious shadows in winter.

The photo collection below starts with the working harbor where one boards the boat to New Shoreham and continues into sights that caught my eye in late August: horse chestnuts, Dusty Miller holding down the fragile dunes, a house sign with a sailboat, a gallery sign with a scarecrow, and the famous Painted Rock. I was so happy to see that 2018 at last had a good piece of art on the rock, not to mention that it stayed up a whole day without getting sloppily spray-painted over. The local paper promised to print my picture of the octopus side and seek out the artist.

Finally, I give you a curious sunset rainbow on an oppressively hot and humid evening. The weather had really gotten me down when this rainbow showed up, so beautiful I felt like saying, Sorry, Sorry, because one needs to remind oneself when feeling down that one won’t always feel that way.

This rainbow was amazing in a couple ways. First of all, there wasn’t even any rain: The air was just loaded with moisture. Second, the sunset on the clouds seemed to spread out the rainbow into several times its true size.

You have to be grateful for these things when you see them.

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Summer has its own pace — sometimes slow and sleepy, sometimes fast and exhausting. The grandchildren like to go-go-go. The older folks wouldn’t mind taking a nap every day.

This photo collection starts out with my energetic older grandson, who learned to surf this summer. Suzanne tried it, too, because John bought her a surfing lesson for her birthday. She says her nephew was really a natural.

Today’s pictures are all from Providence and New Shoreham.

Suzanne’s neighbor has the goofy fairy houses, and the elegant used bookstore Paper Nautilus is also near her home.

The Painted Rock is a beloved island feature — too beloved these days. People paint over one another’s messages within hours, and even a decent picture gets no respect. There were few decent pictures this year, mostly spray painted graffiti.

On our morning walk, Sandra and I snuck up on the bird that was visiting the Manissean cemetery, thinking we’d get a great shot of a heron. You have probably already realized it was only a cormorant. But what a cormorant was doing in the cemetery is anybody’s guess.

I wrap up with a pre-dawn view. “The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.” (Wish I’d written that myself.)

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I once read a mystery called Tip on a Dead Crab about a gambler. The title refers to the gambler’s decision to place a bet on a crab race after someone gave him a tip that one of the crabs was dead.

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a crab race, and an annual one has been organized for children in New Shoreham. It is the cutest thing ever.

Here you see people catching the crabs from a dock, a little boy wearing his yellow crab-race hat, crabs marked with different colors (pick your own to cheer, win an ice cream), the wooden. blue race track, and the crabs scattering as fast as they can.

I always wondered whether crabs were somehow supposed to race in a straight line like a horse — crabs being what they are. But no. Here’s how it works. The master of ceremonies dumps a bucket full of crabs on a racing board, and when the starting signal is given, he sweeps the bucket off the crabs, and away they go.

The winning crab in Sunday’s race made a beeline sideways and fell off the edge as everyone urged their own crab to go, go go.

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I know it’s possible to take good pictures on cloudy days, but for me, the play of sunlight and shadow is irresistible. And this time of year, Midsommar in Swedish, has so much sunshine.

Today’s photos feature my usual Massachusetts and Rhode Island haunts. A couple pictures may be slow to load as I am learning to use an iPhone and the size I chose is too big for a blog. I’ll get better at this.

The Mountain Laurel above is from one of my favorite walks — through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery into wooded conservation land. The sunflowers by my fence were a gift from one of the ESL teachers I assist in Providence.

I got a big kick out of the deciduous holly tapping on the window. It was overcome with curiosity about what I was reading so intently at the kitchen table. (Answer: War and Peace.)

The next photo shows a child’s playhouse in Concord. I have never seen any child there and can only imagine how I would have felt to have such a place to play in as a kid. I would have thought I was in heaven.

Next comes an actual home in New Shoreham, one that is not much bigger than the playhouse. Decades before anyone spoke of “tiny houses,” a member of a church I was attending lived in this very small house year-round. It was known as the Doll House, although today the damaged sign says only, “Doll.”

Next to Doll, is a tiny restaurant called the Three Sisters with outdoor seating only and antiques on the fence. (Order sandwich combinations with names like Hippie Sister, Sailor Sister, and Twisted Sister.) There is also a small junk yard (antique yard?) that is fun to investigate while you wait for your food.

In the first sky photo, I was trying to capture the lower clouds, which looked like sheep, but I don’t think they are that noticeable given the whole view.

Finally, a Rhode Island sunset. Ahhhh.

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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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Aren’t these bouquets splendid? They’re from a stand at the farmers market. In addition to flowers, Amy sells a wide array of produce — one of the few vendors who do, as the farmers at the market have gradually been outnumbered by New Shoreham artisans and bakers.

The porch photo was, I fear, an unsuccessful attempt to capture the full magnificence of two Rose of Sharon bushes in Providence.

The grandchildren don’t put a price on their lemonade. It turns out that when you just ask for donations, you make out like a bandit. More money for toys and for your donation to conservation.

Next are photos of the weed mullein, which looks so pretty when it blooms, and Queen Anne’s Lace growing alongside the corn at the Spring House. The long shots are from the Narrangansett Hotel on New Harbor and the Spring House.

Conserfest (Music on a Mission) was held at the former on August 5, and what a great concert and conservation fest it is! Organized by music lovers and performers who are part of the next generation of conservationists, it encourages you to “Embrace Your Place” wherever you live and take care of the natural envionment. It’s really the young who are going to save the planet, I think. Follow this group on Facebook, here.

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