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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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Massachusetts got a tree-bending snowfall October 30 while leaves were still attached to everything. I don’t know if we should call it an October surprise or a Halloween surprise, but it’s likely to add to the reasons kids will long remember this year’s mask-required Halloween.

For today’s photo round-up, let’s start with what autumn looked like in these parts before the snow. Amusing, colorful, thought-provoking.

In an annual event on the library lawn, people put up scarecrows to represent their favorite storybook characters. I love the face-shield wielding Wild Thing below kicking a coronavirus soccer ball.

As pumpkins came out in yards, flowers continued to bloom on fences, and sometimes the woods seemed to bloom like flowers.

One day I got it in my head that the white-pine needles on our yew branches looked like wishbones, so I set up a silly shot.

The carved stone marker is located near a retirement home in town. I had never noticed before that it has a word about local celebrity Henry Thoreau.

The mother-baby sculpture is a peaceful one outside a hospital in Boston, where I had to go for an annual checkup. Overall, it wasn’t a peaceful experience because there were so many people. The safety protocols were good, but I am definitely not used to crowds.

OK, the luscious dahlia is not mine. Melita sent it from Madrid, where she reports a State of Emergency has been decreed until May 9!

After the dahlia is my attempt at creating a Maxfield Parrish.

Stay safe, stay warm, but try to get out in the fresh air for a bit every day.

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On this rainy, indoor day, I’m sharing photographs from recent walks. I have been so surprised lately by how much is blooming late in the season. Look at the color of those roses and the vitality of the daisies! I want to get some autumn daisies for my own yard.

As you may have guessed, the flower basket at the street crossing memorializes a death on that spot. The woman who was hit was devoted to nature, so her friends have not been putting anything plastic up. Yesterday I noticed a small pile of smooth stones such as one sees in Japanese gardens.

The next shot, of an old tree stump, was taken on a trail that branches off from our local cemetery. I often walk in the cemetery because it is so beautifully landscaped, but I had never taken this path along the wetlands because it’s usually too swampy. I enjoyed trying to guess where the trail would emerge and I was almost right.

I was also drawn to a tree stump by a stone wall on the Codman House grounds in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Sometimes there is beauty in decay. Some might regard the old formal gardens with the ionic columns as representing a different kind of decay, although I must say, the statue looks pretty alert and energetic to me.

The farmstand and a homeowner’s gourd-and-pumpkin display speak for themselves. They remind me I should add a bag of candy to my delivery order on the off-chance we actually get a trick-or-treater this year. It’s been years. But a toddler just moved in next door, so I have hopes. Maybe his mother would prefer something other than candy though. What do you suggest?

Next I have two of the pieces of art from this year’s Umbrella Art Ramble in the town forest. I liked the hanging rowboats and the fishnet strung between trees. The theme this year was “Water Change: Where Spirit, Nature, and Civilization Meet.” Some works spoke to the different ways we use water. Some spoke to increasing shortages. In our own town, we have been suffering from a drought, so the pieces were especially relevant.

Finally, beautiful clouds. I don’t need to tell anyone here that some of the best art is not of human device.

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Bike path, Lincoln, Massachusetts

If you’re not traveling, you get to know your own neighborhood really well, both how it looks and sounds and smells, and what people are thinking about.

It can get complicated. People on the same side of an issue can disagree. Today for example, a small group of people is holding a rally to condemn our church, of all things! Another group, which I ordinarily admire, plans a counter-demonstration, even though the church has requested that no one show up to give the extreme talk show host the confrontation video she seeks.

Some days, you just have to turn to nature.

Above is a bike path I especially love. It goes past a farm with pigs and cows. I learned the farm has an honor-system, 24/7 shop in a big, airy barn. The food I got there was great. We had it last night for dinner.

I took the first picture of dahlias, and Kristina took the one from a Western Massachusetts dahlia farm. Did you know you have to bring dahlias in every year and replant them the next year? Whoa!

At the nature preserve Great Meadows, I was astonished by lotus leaves as far as the eye can see. Next year, I will definitely come when the plants are blooming.

The flowers in the next three photos — asters, clematis virginiana, and a wild bouquet — are mostly from our yard. Then there’s a local jewelry shop, which has wonderful window boxes in every season.

After the pumpkins, there’s a painted door called “Walkies,” by Kayo Burmon, located on the Bruce Freeman bike trail.

In the picture after that, my neighbors are holding up their pink voting slips at the coronavirus outdoor town meeting. Signs of the times.

Literal signs of the times, below, need no discussion, although I do wonder if any of you know the code in the sign copied from Tolkien: “Speak, ‘Friend,’ and enter.”

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John takes my grandchildren on a paddle-board trip. Guess what happened when the youngest decided she wanted to stand up.

Here we are in September, and already August is seeming like a long time ago. So I want to share summer photos, mostly from my walks.

The first one below, however, shows a lighthouse painting by Ben Cummings. It was sent by his son Earle,after my last photo post, which featured a lighthouse. Everyone loves lighthouses.

Next is a picture of chicory, which people in New Shoreham and other parts of Rhode Island call Ragged Sailor. It has many names, in fact, depending on where you live. The turtle art is also from New Shoreham, one of my favorite Painted Rock images this year, and one that actually lasted more than a few hours. (The rock is a local billboard and really gets a workout in the summer.)

Back in Massachusetts, Kristina shared a photo of a sunflower from Verrill Farm’s pick-your-own-sunflowers day, a benefit for Emerson Hospital. Kristina gave me one of her sunflowers, and I was worried when I left for a few days that it wouldn’t survive. So I put it in the birdbath, and it did just fine.

Woodland scenes and the farm along the Lincoln bike path come next. I continue to be fascinated by fungi and by bits of art in unexpected places. The pig, an Old Spot, is one of the varieties raised at Codman Community Farms.

The frame on a pedestal and the amoeba-shaped sculpture were next to a construction site near a conservation trail. I wasn’t sure what to make of them. Perhaps you have a thought.

Meanwhile in the town, a second-floor shop’s staircase says, “Whatever you do today, do it with the confidence of a four-year-old in a Batman cape.” I thought it was excellent advice.

The last photo speaks for itself.

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Photo: Shadows on the Southeast Lighthouse

Time to share a few more photos from a summer in isolation. Four island photos come first. The dishrack photo is to show how I spend my time there. (LOL. I am the one, alas, who said we should protect the groundwater and not have a dishwasher. Sometimes it’s better to be pragmatic than idealistic.)

Back on the mainland, the photos reflect my appreciation of colorful summer meadows, cows, and outdoor library fun for kids. No pictures of people. I do sometimes meet a friend at a safe distance for a sandwich and a chat, but masks never make for good photos. And in my walks, I generally aim for places where people are scarce, like graveyards.

I really liked the spooky-looking crypt and wish I could be Edgar Allan Poe for a minute and invent a reason that a lock was broken.

The long shadow in the next photo is in front of a local senior-living building.

Next comes a sign at Emerson Field that struck me as funny. No golfing? There was never any golfing there. What’s the story? Someone must have tried to get around the governor’s rules in coronavirus Phase One and gotten in the way of dog walkers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in our town it’s you don’t want to mess with dog walkers.

I wonder what memories we will take away from this weird time. For me, a sign forbidding golfing where there was never golfing might be one.

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Sunflowers are wonderful on gray days or sunny, but they seem happiest on sunny days. Gardeners in the local community garden plant a lot of sunflowers, probably to keep the birds busy and away from other plants.

I took the second sunflower photo on a gray day when I happened to notice how prettily this lady’s hair was arranged around her face. I haven’t been to my hairdresser for many moons. Although I’m concerned for her and her coworkers, who need to make a living, I’m still too afraid to go in buildings where coronavirus droplets might linger in the air. I’m hoping my hair ends up with a sunflower naturalness — but a scarecrow look seems more likely.

Going deeper into the garden to capture the first photo, I noticed an arbor I hadn’t seen before. All Morning Glories!

In other walks around town, I was drawn to a stark tree skeleton in a quiet swamp and Purple Loosestrife crowding around a footbridge. The Balloon Flower (or Japanese Bellflower) I suddenly started noticing in local yards after studying a painting on a calendar that a friend in Hokkaido sends me every year. I had never zeroed in on those balloon-like buds before.

Next are yellow roses, a bizarre fungus, and good advice on a small, wise stone. The old seafood sign was outside an antique shop. I’m also sharing a picture of produce that the grocery store delivered the other day, and a blueberry-raspberry cake I made for our very quiet 50th anniversary.

The sheep were sent to me by Stuga40, who sees many wonders on her walks in Stockholm, a city that knows the value of nature.

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Summer heat means taking walks earlier and earlier.

Today I’m sharing a bunch of my recent photos, plus three from friends. It’s great that so many self-isolating people are sending pictures to each other now. Have you noticed?

Kristina sent the red flower below, which I believe is a Chinese Hibiscus. She lives in my town, but we don’t get to see each other as regularly as before Covid. The next two photos are from Melita, who is currently living in Madrid. Spain was hit hard by the virus, and Melita says she’s grateful for the relative safety of the gardens she can walk to.

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The rest of the photos are mine. For weaving bloggers, I took a picture of the handsome dishtowel a childhood friend made and sent me out of the blue. I positioned it on top of a pillow cover her parents wove many years ago. She carries on the traditional craft.

My local community garden is coming along beautifully and providing a temptation to more than birds. Hence the sign.

Funny to be regarding as art the commuter train that was part of my working life for decades.

Louisa’s grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is never short of writing utensils. I love checking it out. And every day that I take a walk near there, I see more gravestones I want to photograph. Shadowed ones for example.

The next four photos show art on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, courtesy of Umbrella Art Center artists. The painted doors are by Sophy Tuttle, and the woodland shelving is by Rebecca Tuck.

The various lilies belong to neighbors, and the bright pink flower is, according to the app PictureThis, a rose mallow, apparently a relative of Kristina’s flower.

The last three photos are from New Shoreham and include the historic home where the song “Smilin’ Through” was written — a fact, I fear, that only an islander would consider worthy of note.

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When my summertime neighbor opens her front door in the morning, I know it’s OK to go over there even if it’s only 6:30. We like to take our walk early, before there are too many mopeds and before it gets hot.

In this plague year, we put on our masks and walk six feet apart. If there are no cars or other people, one of us walks in the middle of the road. Otherwise, one is in front and one six feet behind.

A few other people prefer the early hours, too. It can be a good time to paint the rock and have the work last more than half an hour.

We always check to see if the lotus on Lakeside has any buds. This year looks bad. Sandra notes the little pond is almost dry.

The marker honoring New Shoreham’s early indigenous residents, the Manisseans, is near their old burial ground. We usually pause and turn around here.

On the way home, we check on how the potential ingredients for Sandra’s jellies are coming along. Will the wild blackberry crop be good this year? How many many jars of beach plum jam is this spot likely to provide?

Last year, in between hunting for Monarch caterpillars on milkweed, we picked a lot of Queen Anne’s Lace, and Sandra made a batch of “Jelly a la Thelma,” which has a slightly lemony flavor.

You can probably tell our walk is not aerobic exercise.

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Hello, summer clouds — so beautiful! I was discussing them with my friend Nancy yesterday, and she told me she had signed up some years ago with the UK-based Cloud Appreciation Society, which sends her a daily cloud picture and a few words on cloud science or cloud mythology. Consider joining if you need a daily pick-me-up in quarantine.

The next two pictures reference my growing appreciation of fungus. Then comes a bright red intruder in the forest, reminding me of the lamppost that Lucy found in the wintry Narnia woodland after emerging from the wardrobe.

The doorknob in the tree made Suzanne think of a handy panic button (I think she is tired of lockdown), but I’m pretty sure it leads into a home. Probably not a hobbit home, since they prefer burrows underground. Maybe it belongs to Owl.

I love the little red squirrels that have started to appear in our region. John thinks global warming may be bringing them up from the south. Clue me in if you know.

The decidedly unscenic bug repellent had been abandoned along the bike trail. I didn’t touch it as I am a Covid germaphobe, but I got a laugh: I’d been slapping mosquitoes for the whole walk.

In the town of Lincoln, yarn stretched between trees caught my eye. A bit further along the conservation trail, there was a helpful explanation.

The tippy old wooden building is next to Orchard House, a childhood home of author Louisa May Alcott. The building was named the School of Philosophy by Louisa’s hippy father Bronson and continues to offer presentations and lectures in normal times. (I put up my photo of Louisa in her coronavirus face mask for yesterday’s post.)

Speaking of adapting to the times, you will note that the Colonial Inn (founded in 1716) has marked off six-foot segments on its brick walk for safe distancing.

The Art Deco frieze on the old Emerson school building welcomes visitors to what is now the Umbrella Center for the Arts.

I don’t think I need to explain the last three. Sometimes readers give me their reactions to one or two pics. I do get a kick out of that — should you feel moved to comment.

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I take pictures with my phone, and some are better than others. Don’t expect too much.

These shots are from recent rambles in my neighborhood: I don’t like to go so far these days that I might have to use a public bathroom! Actually, there is one photo that is not mine. It was taken by my friend Kristina’s Arizona cousin. So adorable! I don’t think we have quail around here.

Let me start with a few oddities: a lily that had a tough time waking up, the first possum to visit my yard in 38 years, and a whimsical tombstone (the more traditional family of the deceased had their way with the other side).

From there we move to the baby quail, hatched in a flower pot, lovely shadows early and late, and kindness rocks. I think initially the young artists started making the rocks just to cheer people up, but now they have set up a way to sell them for the benefit of the Boston Food Bank. Outside the front door of their house, they have a poster of a giant thermometer to mark how they’re doing with their donation goals — the way one might do for Community Chest. I’m impressed.

Moving along to the community garden, I love one person’s tidy plot with a woven gate. In fact, I love all the spring scenes I’ve collected, including skunk cabbage and ferns unfurling. The spring photos could illustrate the children’s book I’ve been rereading, The Secret Garden — so full of joy about nature! Don’t laugh when I tell you why I originally thought about asking the library for the e-book: all those people dying of cholera in the beginning, followed by a happy life for the survivors.

The last picture is from the elementary school’s playground. At most times of day, there is no one on the school grounds, and unless I can keep a steady six-foot distance walking with a friend, going where there is no one at all is pretty much my favorite thing these days.

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As usual on sunny days, I’m paying a lot of attention to shadows, and thinking about shadows often calls to mind these words from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended—
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.

Although Shakespeare is referring to the characters as shadows or perhaps the actors, I’m wondering whether we’re the ones who are shadows. But if so, who is slumbering and seeing visions? When I go down that path, I get all snarled up. Better back off.

Today I was planning to share light and darkness in the form of photos going back to Easter (which seems a long, long time ago for some reason), including photos of shadows. Doesn’t the picture above make you think of a New England painter best known for projecting loneliness?

Sandra M. Kelly sent pictures of the Easter Sunrise Service in New Shoreham and a statue that the folks on the island call Rebecca. Please note she’s wearing her mask.

I used a Sharpie for my hard-boiled eggs this Easter as I had no dye. There were 8 other Easter eggs representing the people who would have come here but for coronavirus. We ate them. 🙂

Kristina Joyce shot the cactus. It bloomed for her twice this Easter. She told me that had never happened before.

On April 18, we had snow, which surprised the flowering bushes at my neighbor’s. The Trout Lilies persevered.

There follow random items that caught my eye on my walks. The mystery vegetable arrived with my farm produce order Thursday. It turned out to be ramps (as in the awesome history of Appalachia called Ramp Hollow) and we sauteed the whole thing, minus roots. We saw online that you don’t cultivate ramps. They need to be foraged. They tasted like a very sharp onion.

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Time for a few more photos sent to me by family or gathered on a walk. What would I do without the outlet of walks?

Above I am bundled up in front of the Melvin Memorial at Concord’s Sleepy Hollow cemetery. It commemorates another bad time in US history, the Civil War. A heartbroken man whose three brothers never came home commissioned the famous Concord sculptor Daniel Chester French (who created the statue of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in DC) to make this lovely recognition of his brothers’ service.

French, by the way, is buried not too far from this, near authors Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.

In the next picture, I’m photographing John’s adventurous neighbors from the bridge over the Sudbury River as one of them photographs me. The bridge is near the next scene, a meadow that the river floods every spring.

A walk on conservation land can turn up a fox if I’m lucky. Or maybe a bathtub.

What to make of the bear? I did read somewhere that folks in another town were putting teddy bears in windows to make a safe scavenger hunt for neighborhood children, but this was the only bear I encountered on my walk. He looks like he is being held for ransom.

In the last picture my Rhode Island grandchildren are making flags of countries they have invented where there is no coronavirus. According to Suzanne, my grandson’s country is “a mountainous island off of Norway [and my granddaughter’s] is filled with rainbows, unicorns, and — LOL — dolls.”

Laurie, I know you’d like a country with unicorns.

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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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021720--small-Racine-Holly-painting

021720-exhibit-in-Providence-church

021720-no-idea-but-I-like-it

021720-artist-Wendy-Edwards-likes-fruit-with-seeds

021720-Brown-U-art-prof-shows-where-you=-come-from

021720-Brown-U-Design-carved-pedestal

020320-bring-your-own-container

020320-sign-in-Providence-about-a-horse

021320-rose-petal-path-to-florist

021420-bouquet

020620-Magritte-in-the-neighborhood

020820-Magritte-moon

 

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