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Photo: Suzanne and John’s Mom.
My teabag tag: “The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment.” In fall, it hits us that wild asters are flowers. Bees go bananas for them. The bees knew all along.

Happy October. Time to gather recent photos to share. I use only my phone for photography, I’m sorry to say, so if you want to see what a real camera can do with nature scenes in my region, check out bloggers like jmankowsky and her site From My Window, here.

The first two pictures below are by Sandra M. Kelly and were taken at the Painted Rock in New Shoreham, Rhode Island.

In the Massachusetts town where I live, there are lots of painted doors, an Umbrella Arts initiative. The one pictured, over by the parking lot for two childhood homes of Louisa May Alcott (the Wayside and the Orchard House), features four kinds of poems for the four seasons.

The next two photos were taken at the Umbrella’s annual woodland art show. The theme this year had to do with getting out of balance with nature. The problem is, most of the artists thought they had to use a lot of plastic to express themselves on the topic. John and the kids and I really didn’t like all the plastic. The real-life frogs in the wetlands were fun though.

The mural off Thoreau Street has been wearing well. I wrote about its development in 2012, here.

I loved the sign at my older granddaughter’s soccer game. Also loved hearing blogger Will McMillan, Carole Bundy, and Molly Ruggles (not shown) singing at Porchfest.

In the second-to-last picture, Boston’s Post Office Square is a lovely urban oasis. And I close with shots of the boat house and the nearly dry Sudbury River in September.

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In my last batch of photos, I showed a piece from an Art League of Rhode Island exhibit to which my friend Ann Ribbens had contributed. The show, “Below the Surface,” had a humanity-versus-water theme, and the quilt I shared in that post featured a warning about toxins in fish. Today I’m displaying Ann’s lovely “Undersea Tapestry” and two other pictures from “Below the Surface.”

Now I’m wondering if there’s something in the water that New England artists are drinking. The next group of photos is from a recent exhibit at a Massachusetts gallery, and the subject is “Undercurrents: Water and Human Impact.” If artists are to be believed (and they are), things are not looking good for water and it’s all our fault.

At “Undercurrents,” I especially liked Henry Horenstein’s photograph “Cownose ray” and Joan Hall’s “The New Normal,” which hints at manmade items that wash in with the tide.

Still on the subject of art, I want to mention that yesterday I checked out the new mural on the Boston Greenway, where I used to love walking when I worked downtown. There are many post-Covid changes in the area (I felt like Rip Van Winkle gazing around in wonder after a long nap), but the Greenway is still hiring artists to paint the wall of the giant Air-Intake building over the Big Dig. The latest painting, of a little boy with a boombox, has a wistful feeling about it.

The mural photos are followed by several local scenes, including a look at the bright cherries next to John’s front porch.

I end with a picture that Ann took last month while traveling in France. I couldn’t resist. It looks so utterly French to me.

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Looking for turtles.

I do my wandering in a small circumference, but I’m always finding something new. Today’s photos are from favorite haunts in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

As a kid, I spent a lot of time exploring the woods. Now the granddaughter above and her friend enjoy doing the same thing. They particularly like tromping through the less traveled paths — a great opportunity to practice poison ivy identification.

The next photo shows another Providence pond beloved of turtles. My granddaughter worries about them when they lay eggs on the small beach where people walk.

The next scene was taken from the North Bridge in Concord. The little boathouse belongs to the Old Manse. A fisherman is having a relaxing day on the river near there.

Lots of lupines in a yard devoted to native plants. Iris in my yard. Clematis on a phone pole.

Do you have a guess how far below the Clayhead Trail the beach in the next photo is? This is a true optical illusion as the distance is scores of feet down. Would love it if someone from New Shoreham could tell me just how many. 100?

The next shot is of our town in Massachusetts. The play Our Town was actually performed outdoors in the street here, directed my my friend Dorothy Schecter years ago.

A creative resident hangs a lantern with poetry free for the taking.

I hope you’ll get a kick out of the bumper sticker. Unfortunately, no one was singing when I walked past. Next is a photo of a local second hand shop, followed by one of the cute veggie tables at the new health-food store.

The quilted warning about eating the fish you catch was in Pawtucket at an Art League of Rhode Island show called “Under the Surface.” The Make Way for Ducklings wallpaper covered the windows of a Boston shop that was being renovated.

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What a great time of year for New England nature photos — really, any photo that benefits from strong sunlight.

The first two iris photos are from the the grounds of the Buttrick Mansion at Minuteman National Park. The next one shows wild irises in a swamp near Walgreen’s.

Finding rare Lady Slippers is always a thrill, especially finding a large stand. The photo after the Lady Slippers shows fragrant lilacs and wisteria. That one is followed by a field of pink Dame’s Rocket near woods. The little bridge with the crab apple canopy is just off a busy parking lot. Even small pockets of nature are important.

The next photo is by Kristina, whose yard has a stream running through it. The painted turtle was not found there, however. It was on a high stone wall by the park. Someone must have rescued it from the middle of the road. It didn’t seem to know what to do about being so high up. Perhaps it was injured. I moved it to a field across the street. Not sure I did right.

A lot of people in town have been holding off on mowing in order to protect our pollinators. See the signs. I love that they are doing that — and not just because of the reprieve from noisy, polluting lawn mowers.

A different kind of sign is in Walden Woods. Author Toni Morrison once noted that there were few markers preserving the history of the enslaved. This one honors former slave Brister Freeman, well known in town during Thoreau’s time.

Next we have spring wreaths, a high school senior dressed as a clown for Pranks Day, glamorous table legs in a bakery, and the dogwood at my house.

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The Michael S. Van Leesten Memorial Bridge is a footbridge crossing the Providence River. The bridge connects Providence’s Fox Point neighborhood to the city’s former Jewelry District.

Spring is coming to New England in fits and starts. I warned Stuga40 before she left Sweden to visit Providence that she might need to bring clothes for anything from balmy days to a deep freeze. She was glad to know that, as it turned out we did have both.

The day we walked with her over the Providence River pedestrian bridge (above) it was cold but warm enough to eat our lunch outside at a nearby vegan restaurant. We were dressed for it.

When the I-195 highway was rerouted, Providence had a big debate about what to put in the old Jewelry District area where land was freed up. I’m so glad the pedestrian advocates won out. The bridge is truly magnificent, a model that other cities would be well to emulate. We don’t need to enable more cars and driving. And the bridge has become a major attraction, which helps local businesses.

While our Swedish relative was at Suzanne and Erik’s house, my husband and I stayed at a rental apartment nearby in order to have more time to explore the city with her. Below are two photos from our rainy day at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. The RISD Museum is a quirky collection of buildings featuring photogenic nooks and crannies that I like. I also liked this Georgia O’Keeffe. When I showed the photo to my 7-year-old granddaughter, she knew already that many O’Keeffe paintings are close-ups of flowers. She’d heard about the artist in school.

Stuga40 and I also walked the downtown area and chatted with the shoemaker at the new cobbler shop, recently reviewed in the Boston Globe.

The other photos are just things that caught my eye, both in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Note that signs of Ukraine solidarity are popping up everywhere. You might be interested in a Kyiv messaging project that Asakiyume and I (and many other volunteers) are working on. Podcast here.

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My first photo today is from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where a homeowner is expressing the solidarity that most of us feel for Ukrainians defending their homeland against a crazed invader.

Some other recent photos also make me think about solidarity — and how good things can happen when folks band together. Remember the WPA? Many of its works are still in use. New Congressional allocations will be doing some of the same kinds of infrastructure projects, thank goodness.

I loved the sign on the bank of the Seekonk River showing the power of “unionized” little fish in a dangerous world.

The photo of the pollinator sign highlights the banding together of neighborhoods in Massachusetts and elsewhere to protect honey bees and other pollinators, guardians of a healthy environment.

Looks like Providence’s official guardian on the river may actually be needed more on the road.

Meanwhile, encouraging signs of spring give us hope that winter won’t keep returning after random warm days. Still, winter can have attractions. Note the bluebirds that have been regular visitors to our feeder.

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A girl photographs a bridge over the foggy Seekonk River.

What’s been hard about the most recent iteration of the pandemic is the feeling of going backwards. For a while, there was a sense of forward movement even though we were still taking some precautions. But with Omicron so transmissible, many of us chose isolation again.

It hit me right before Christmas when a friend stopped by. We both had had three vaccine shots and were used to being together without masks, but because I knew that some of her coworkers were not wearing masks, I decided we had better go back to masking when together. Sure enough, not long after that she caught Covid from a coworker. (Doing OK, thanks to the shots.)

Most of my photos reflect the grayness of this period. The view below of the Sudbury River was taken on New Year’s Day: outlook foggy.

I took a lot of snow photos, as you can see, but I’m also including a sunny one of the library’s brand-new children’s wing, several pictures from friends (Kim Gaffet’s snowy owl, a tiny island that Jean Devine’s students planted last summer), and scenes in Providence yesterday (the girl photographing a fogged-in bridge, an icy sandbox, a pond starting to melt). Sandra M. Kelly made the 2022 photo of snow in New Shoreham, where heavy snow is a rare event.

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The Boston Marathon was in October for the first time, after missing two Aprils because of Covid.

We ourselves had to hustle a little to get to the Boston Marathon as the new technology told us Erik was running faster than expected and might reach our viewing spot before we could get there. Fortunately, we arrived with a few minutes to spare.

Erik’s final time was a hair over three hours. The photo above is of runners near where we stood. It was a happy day, and although runners had to be vaccinated or show a recent test result, it had a welcome feeling of maybe-life-will-get-back-to-normal-sometime. And the sun was shining.

On a drizzly day, I went up to the Brush Gallery in Lowell to see Meredith‘s lovely exhibit. The artist herself came over from her studio in her rain gear, and I learned some interesting things about how she thinks about color and how she works. The first painting below was my favorite.

On another day, I took photos at Concord Art‘s juried show. The piece using corrugated cardboard was by David Covert. The wax art suggesting a dreamy ocean was Elvira Para’s. Nadya Volicer’s unusual sculpture was made from paper pulp and charcoal.

I couldn’t resist shooting an urban mural even though it wasn’t far enough along for me to understand what meaning flowers, a fish, a rooster, and a barefoot woman walking on chairs, might convey.

Meanwhile, nature has been making its own art, and there have been many beautiful days to enjoy it.

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Image: Ibrahim, 13.
The photography of Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee in Turkey, is featured with the work of other boys and girls in the book i saw the air fly, by Sirkhane Darkroom (Mack, 2021). Proceeds go to the Her Yerde Sanat-Sirkhane charity.

Today’s story is about trying to provide some fun for children caught in the failures of a grownup world. Adults of good will can’t fix everything for these youngsters, but whatever they manage to do can mean a lot.

Sean O’Hagan reports at the Guardian, “Serbest Salih studied photography at college in Aleppo, before fleeing Syria with his family in 2014 as Islamic State fighters advanced on his home town of Kobani. He is now one of an estimated 100,000 refugees living in the historic city of Mardin in south-eastern Turkey, just a few miles from the Syrian border. Having initially found work as a photographer for a German NGO, Salih’s life changed dramatically in 2017 when, while wandering with a friend through the city, he discovered a sprawling refugee community living in a group of abandoned government buildings in the working-class Kurdish district of Istayson.

“ ‘It was a place where Turkish Kurds and Syrian Kurds lived as neighbours, but did not communicate,’ he says, ‘They were strangers who spoke the same language. It was at that moment that I thought to use analogue photography as a means to integrate the different communities.’

“Working with Sirkhane, a community organisation, and with initial funding from a German aid organisation, Welthungerhilfe, he began hosting photography workshops using donated cheap analogue cameras. ‘Digital is easier and quicker,’ he tells me, ‘but the analogue process teaches children to look more carefully and also to be patient, because they have to take a picture without seeing the result instantly. For them, there is something therapeutic and healing about the whole process.’

“Salih now runs the Sirkhane Darkroom in Mardin and, since 2019, has travelled to neighbouring towns and villages with the Sirkhane Caravan, a mobile version of the same. Children from the age of seven come to his workshops to learn the traditional skills of shooting on film and processing the results in a darkroom. …

The results, as a new book, i saw the air fly, shows, are often surprising. Rather than reflect the traumas of their displacement, the pictures tend towards the innocent and joyous …

“Family portraits, blurred shots of their friends at play, children jumping, hiding, posing with their friends or tending their animals. Throughout, there are more intricately formal compositions that catch the eye: a cluster of hilltop buildings, the irregular geometry of electricity wires crisscrossing the sky. …

“The book has parallels with Wendy Ewald’s Portraits and Dreams: Photographs and Stories by Children of the Appalachians, also published by Mack, in which she taught practical photography to kids from a poor rural community with often startling results. Like that project, i saw the air fly is a testament to the undimmed imagination of the very young, however impoverished their circumstances, but also to Salih’s faith in the transformative power of analogue photography. …

“As the children progress though the workshops, he tells me, they are given specific subjects to photograph. These can range from the everyday (the garden, the home) to the more socially aware – child labour, child marriage and, tentatively, gender issues. ‘Often, when we begin, the girls don’t think they can be as good as the boys,’ he says. ‘Sadly, that is what the adult world has taught them, but soon they are shooting pictures about their lives and experiences. The camera gives them the confidence to do that.’

“On the Sirkhane website, videos and photographs attest to the sense of wonder the children experience in the darkroom as the images they have shot finally appear. …

“Salih’s plans to ‘expand the caravan workshops so we can go to the most affected places’ have been put on hold since the pandemic began and he has had to teach online. ‘It has been difficult,’ he says, ‘because most of the children do not have smartphones or internet access.’ …

“The publication of i saw the air fly is a singular achievement. It is also, in many ways, a humble book – all the images have been selected by the children themselves, their often low-key charm attesting to the essentially democratic nature of the medium, and its ability to surprise. ‘People think that if you give a refugee child a camera, the results will be sad,’ says Salih, ‘but instead most of these photographs are all about joy. They are small moments of private happiness.’

“All proceeds from the sale of i saw the air fly will go to the Her Yerde Sanat-Sirkhane charity, whose aim is to provide ‘a safe, friendly and embracing environment’ for children caught up in conflicts.”

More at the Guardian, here.

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Photo: Hikespeak.
Because it’s possible to get permanently lost in the Mt. Waterman area of the Angeles National Forest, a hiker was lucky that someone in a different part of California had a hobby identifying the location of photos
.

People have unusual hobbies, things they like to dig deep into just because. A stranger’s passion for figuring out where photos were taken turned out to be lucky for hiker Rene Compean. Sydney Page at the Washington Post has the life-and-death story.

“When Rene Compean snapped a photo of his soot-stained legs hanging over a steep cascade of rocks, he feared it was the last picture he’d ever take. Hopelessly lost while hiking in Southern California, he thought he might die. … He repeatedly yelled for help and used charred sticks to write SOS on any open surfaces he could find.

“Compean had trekked through the Angeles National Forest trails more times than he could count, he said, but after venturing along a new path April 12 — for what he intended to be a two-hour outing — he lost his way.

“Several hours into the solo hike, after many failed attempts at getting his bearings, he was scared. The temperature was dropping fast in the remote, rugged terrain, and the winds were whipping.

“Compean grabbed his cellphone, which had less than 10 percent battery remaining, and climbed to a spot where he was able to get at least one bar of signal.

” ‘SOS. My phone is going to die. I’m lost,’ Compean texted a friend, along with two photos showing where he was — though only one went through. It was the picture of his legs.

“The photo offered minimal information and, given Compean’s lack of cellphone signal, the resolution was very low. More importantly, though, Compean didn’t realize his location settings were disabled on his phone.

“Still, the grainy image was somehow detailed enough for a total stranger to decipher the hiker’s exact location.

“Ben Kuo was working at his home about 60 miles away in Ventura County, Calif., when he stumbled upon a tweet from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, along with the photo of Compean’s legs.

“The sheriff’s search-and-rescue teams had already spent the previous night unsuccessfully looking for Compean, so they released the photograph to the public hoping someone could help.

“Sgt. John Gilbert said they figured Compean was on the mountain at about 7,000 feet elevation, and the blasts of wind were ‘definitely a concern.’ …

“The department tweeted: ‘Are You an Avid Hiker in the Mt. Waterman Area? #LASD SAR Teams need help locating a #missing hiker.’

Kuo, 47, inspected the image and thought, ‘I bet I could find that spot,’ he recalled.

“Kuo works in the tech industry, but he is also an amateur radio operator. For several years, as a hobby, he has used his Twitter account to alert the public about natural disasters. He regularly examines satellite imagery to identify and track local wildfires.

“Plus, he has another unusual pastime: ‘I have always loved looking for where photos are taken,’ Kuo said. He frequently tries to identify where movie scenes, television shows or commercials were filmed. …

“So when he came across the blurry image of Compean’s legs surrounded by an endless landscape of rocks and vegetation, he instinctively pulled up a satellite map. Since the sheriff’s department said Compean’s car was found near Buckhorn Campground, he narrowed his search to the surrounding area.

‘There’s an amazing amount of information you can get from satellites,’ said Kuo, who is also a hiker, though he has never visited the area where Compean was lost.

“The first thing he noticed in the picture were patches of greenery. ‘I realized he’s got to be on the south side because there’s not really any green valleys on the north side,’ he explained.

“That finding tightened his search considerably and helped him zero in on one area that closely resembled the terrain in the image. The final step was cross-referencing the original photo with Google Earth and comparing specific details.

“ ‘By punching in the time and date that the photo was taken, you can compare the view in Google Earth,’ said Kuo. ‘They matched.’

“He shared a screenshot of the satellite imagery on Twitter and called the sheriff’s department to notify officials of the coordinates he uncovered.

“After vetting the findings in relation to the information they were able to glean about Compean’s whereabouts, ‘we felt pretty confident that Ben’s information was good,’ Gilbert said. A search-and-rescue team swiftly boarded a helicopter and flew to the area.”

Read what happened next at the Washington Post, here.

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Here come more spring photos. Most are from my walks, but the pictures of the gorgeous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston were take by Suzanne. She put lots more photos of the Gardner on Instagram, @lunaandstella.

The top picture illustrates for me how spring is a time of becoming. The tree is budding lustily over the lichen-covered branch.

But we weren’t quite done with snow. As you can see from the next image, the April 16 snowfall decorated trees already flowering out.

Patriot’s Day, traditionally April 19 in my neck of the woods, has had to be subdued during the pandemic. No parades. But as you can see, a few Minutemen mustered anyway. I guess that after starting the Revolution a year before Independence Day, they imagine germs, however deadly, can’t slow them down. I wonder if they ended up wearing masks.

I went looking for Jack-in-the-pulpit plants in the town forest as I haven’t seen one in years, but what I found was skunk cabbage and lots of it.

It was only last year while walking and asking questions of my phone that I realized the green tassels you see below are on oak trees. Takes a lifetime to learn basic things.

Umbrella Arts is doing a lot outdoors this year. I recently happened upon this jelly-fish-like hanging on a conservation trail, part of the Umbrella’s Change Is in the Air art walk. So pretty. The artists are Nicole Harris and karen [sic] Krolak.

At the Umbrella building itself there was a kind of awning made of paper cranes floating in a net.

Next three pictures: something called an Interrupted fern, a fuzzy thing beginning to unfurl; a Japanese quince; daffodils; and grandchildren at the New England Aquarium for a birthday celebration of Suzanne’s son.

Finally, the Gardner.

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Today I have a few Massachusetts photos that I took myself and a few that other people took. Most need no explanation, but please let me know if you have comments.

The abandoned boathouse is next to the Sudbury River, which you can see through the trees if you look closely. A shot taken nearby shows more of the river, including the farther shore and the ice forming along the edges.

About the traffic signs: Are drivers supposed to be hopeful about the availability of tickets?

My husband researched white squirrels after I pointed out our visitor. This squirrel could be either an albino gray squirrel or a mutation. I think I have the mutation. Very aggressive, by the way.

The new bird feeder has provided terrific entertainment ever since it went up December 16. The sharp-shinned hawk seen on the backyard bench agreed that the feeder was entertaining, although his enthusiasm was not as innocent as mine.

Kristina took the next two pictures: one of the gnome she made over Christmas, and the other of her bright and cheery plants.

My oldest grandson took the picture of his sister next to a big New Year’s ice sculpture in his town.

Finally, I hardly ever miss a chance to shoot a photo of nice shadows.

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A dripping icicle.

Although officially it’s still fall, there are many days it feels like winter where I live. We are not yet at the point that the dogs are sticking to the sidewalks, but some days it’s pretty cold. Even the chickens at Codman Farm in Lincoln seem to shiver.

The snow we had a week ago froze into a hard and slippery crust, and we put on cleats to take walks. But what is going on with that yard? you ask. The pattern is the result of my husband’s wish never to use a leaf blower. He puts out a net, rolls up the leaves, and carts them to the town’s composting site.

I took a couple red and green photos on warm days, but they made me think of the holiday to come.

Hellabore uses any break in the weather to flower. So welcome.

In another picture, you see where someone made a child’s game with chalk. It was actually quite intricate, featuring a variety of tasks and awards for getting to certain squares. A more elaborate version of hopscotch.

Most of the other photos speak for themselves, but the lovely dove design is by artist Kristina Joyce, a commission for one of her clients. That photo is followed by a painted door from one of the Umbrella artists.

The last two pictures were sent by Stuga40 and were taken on walks in Stockholm.

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In the summer, I stayed away. It gets very crowded at Walden Pond, a state park popular with swimmers, and since March I’ve been worried about picking up coronavirus in a crowd.

But on a cloudy weekday morning in fall, I thought I’d give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did. It’s lovely, and I was mostly reassured by signs reminding people about masks and social distancing. Moreover, for the pandemic, the path is one-way, counterclockwise around the pond.

It wasn’t quite as empty as my photos make it seem. There were ten or 20 swimmers, gliding quietly with their orange bubbles attached for safety, and a few kayakers, paddeboarders, and fishermen. I even ran into a neighbor who was out for his constitutional.

At the farthest point from the beach house is the railroad track for the train to Boston. I remember visiting with the class when Suzanne was in second grade and studying Henry David Thoreau, and we learned that train whistles would have been a sound Thoreau heard when he lived at his cabin. (But not airplanes, the teacher reminded us.)

I have stuck the photo of Thoreau’s lodging next to the hut-site photo with his famous quotation and the memorial stones, but in fact the cabin is a replica and is located over by the parking lot across Route 126.

I loved the wavy curve of the shore in one shot. Also the woman meditating by the quiet water.

There weren’t any turtles, unless that street sign refers to me. I’m a very slow walker. Fortunately, slow walkers can turn on flashing lights to cross the road and get back to the parking lot safely.

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1963-looking-out-windows-BMC

I’m no artist, but once in a blue moon I try watercolor because I find it relaxing. The watercolor above, a view from a window in my college dorm, reminds me of how I learned that Kennedy was shot one sad November day. A girl was running frantically across the campus crying, and I went out of my room to see if anyone knew what was going on.

In the coronavirus era, I feel I’m looking out windows a lot — you know, keeping my distance. Fortunately, outdoor meetings with friends or family and FaceTime can make one feel connected for a bit.

The first photo below shows a tiny vase Kristina gave me the other day. It attaches to the window with a suction cup. After that, I think you will recognize white hydrangea and smokebush. The blueberries belong to a neighbor and the grapes to a local business.

I was glad finally to check out the old shack by the Sudbury River, but the trail that got me there had so much mowed poison ivy, I decided to put my shoes in the machine when I got home.

Next we have a tomb inscription — about a window, in a way. It’s from Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. I went up for a closer look when I saw the word “Pilgrim” because I thought it might have something to do with our New England Pilgrims. No. It reads in part, “The Pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber, whose window opened towards the sun-rising. The name of the chamber was Peace.

Two plaques follow and testify to the fact that we are loaded with history in these parts. Next, “Owl’s doorknob” has been joined by an additional decorative touch. Wonder what the mystery elf will do next. Then we have photos of day lilies at dawn and purple clematis.

I’ll wind up with some armchair travel. Caroline sent the breathtaking rugged mountain vista from her home in Utah, and Stuga40 sent four pictures from Sweden. First of those is a woodland in Stockholm where she likes to walk and wildflowers she picked. Her last two photos are from the Dalecarlia region a bit further north, where you can get a red-painted wooden Dala horse if you want a souvenir.

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062920-Margareta-walks-in-Stockholm

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