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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

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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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Whenever the sun peaked out this spring, I tried to take a picture. Not that you can’t take photos without sun, but I’m obsessed with shadows. Blogger and photographer Milford Street had a good idea for taking advantage of all the rain. He chose this time to shoot some waterfalls. Check out this shot from Ashby, Mass. (Where is Ashby, Mass.? Will I ever learn all the names of towns in this state?)

Moving right along, I loved the way the writing on the glass door below repeated itself on the interior wall. The very high wall that comes next is in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a magical place that no wall, alas, could protect from human error and theft.

Sunshine also brings out the vintage cars. I couldn’t resist shooting this red one, even though I am not especially into cars.

The curiosity you see after the car is a piece of bark hanging off a tree that is on conservation land. I have been finding walks in the woods very calming lately, especially since my sister’s cancer returned. If I don’t find ways to calm down, things start breaking or spilling or overheating in my vicinity. Not on purpose. They just happen.

Next is a decorative gate standing all alone without a fence, like the random street lamp in the middle of a Narnia woods. You don’t know what its purpose is, but you’re kind of glad to see it.

The gate is followed by my neighbor’s weeping cherry, which by this date has lost its flowers. The beauty of a weeping cherry is so short-lived. The apple tree by the swamp seems to have planted itself. It beautifies an ordinarily messy area I often pass on my walk.

I will close here with photos from the amazing deCordova Museum in Lincoln, Mass.  The founder’s brick castle is quite dramatic in itself, as you can see, but the sculpture park is the museum’s crowning glory. Even when the indoor exhibits don’t speak to you, the outdoor ones will.

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My first glimpses of snowdrops and crocus blooms in 2019 may not look like much as photographs, but if you’ve ever lived where winter temperatures go below zero, you know what the first flowers mean to everyone in the Northeast. Hooray! Celebration time!

The other joy is the quality of the sunlight, which I have tried to capture a little here. All these Massachusetts rambles feature the welcome, warming sun.

The Paddington Bear birdhouse is from the bookshop collection that I wrote about here. The chimney against the brilliant blue sky is atop the Colonial Inn. The little stone by the Main Streets Café flower box says, “Start each day with a grateful heart.”

The meditative circle of stones on a bench was outside Emerson Hospital’s wellness center, which includes meditation in many of its classes.

Shadows from objects in a window caught my eye on my way down the stairs. The garage door is a favorite photography subject for me, probably because of the light. The cardinal and the bird feeder make me think of the wonderful children’s biography of artist Horace Pippin called A Splash of Red — a reference to one of the self-taught artist’s signature touches. My older granddaughter likes looking for the splashes of red in the book.

The last photo is of a quiet street in early morning light.

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Spring sunshine and blooms provide opportunities to take the kinds of photographs I like best. Here I share blossoms that I believe are quince, things I saw in the woods (baby oak leaves in mud, foam flowers, ferns, Sessile Bellwort, and a garter snake), murals in Cambridge, Mass., and a random indoor shot from the past month.

The carpet of cherry petals was shot in Providence.

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Photo: Bryn Mawr College
Students dance around the May pole as part of an ancient spring tradition. A local men’s college used to try to steal May poles in the dead of night. One year a May pole ended up in a swimming pool.

As important as International Workers Day is, please don’t forget about the ancient May Day, the one that welcomes spring with flower baskets deposited at doors and with dances that weave ribbons around a May pole. It’s sweet and fun.

My children used to leave little bouquets of violets and daffodils and tulips on neighbors’ doorsteps. A babysitter showed us how to make baskets using wallpaper from discontinued sample books and a stapler. The kids would ring a neighbor’s bell, then run and hide. If anyone asked us later whether we knew anything about the nice flowers they found outside their door, we always said we had no idea what they were talking about. Which made it pretty obvious, actually.

I remember Mrs. Pulhamous saying to me, “Oh, I’m going to be so sad when your children grow up!”

Recently, I was sorting through files and was reminded that when Suzanne was in Girl Scouts, we made baskets for retirement home residents and received very sweet thank-you notes. I still think the Girl Scouts would be a good organization to carry on the tradition.

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March 8, 2018, New England. Beaten-down dogwood blocks the back steps.

After the blogger behind Jnana’s Red Barn posted 10 things he liked about March, I thought, “Wow! What a challenge!” New Englanders often find it hard to think of even one good thing about March. Winter hangs on and hangs on and hangs on, the snow no longer seems magical, and activities get canceled that you thought for sure you would be able to do in March.

Could I possibly think of 10 good things? I knew it would be good for me to try.

1. Daylight. I definitely like having more daylight.

But although I thought about Jnana’s challenge for days, daylight was the only thing I could think of that I liked about March.

Should I mention how quiet it is at Suzanne and Erik’s house when they take the family off for March vacation? (I stay at the house when I volunteer in Rhode Island.) It’s much more entertaining when the grandchildren are there, but quiet can be nice once in a while, and I’ll never get to 10 if I don’t include this.

2. A quiet house.

A couple items are comparative — that is, they start to happen a lot more in March.

3. More walks in the woods.

4. More sightings of neighbors.

Once I got this far, I began to think it might be possible to get to 10.

5. The first spring flowers.

6. Four young cousins playing at my husband’s birthday.

7. Decorating Easter eggs.

8. John and Suzanne planning their two families’ New Shoreham summer.

9. Irish music by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

10. Return of the redwing blackbirds.

Yaay! I’m feeling more positive already. How about you? Can you find 10 things you like about March?

 

 

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As spring belatedly decided to show up in our neck of the woods, a Hollywood movie crew turned the town into a Christmas set, building a crèche in front of a picturesque church, decorating store windows with candy canes, snowmen, and plastic poinsettias — and spreading fake snow on lawns that had barely recovered from an April 1 blizzard. It was a little weird. One friend said she looked up from washing dishes at her kitchen window and saw what looked like a gigantic spaceship hovering over the trees. It was the boom for the cameraman.

In more seasonal news, spring flowers began to poke out. Woodland walks were taken. Mushrooms and lichens were admired.

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It is not really spring yet although a weird February tried to fool us with several warm days before handing us back to single-digit temperatures.

There is a period in New England when the weather teeters back and forth between winter and spring — and inevitably brings to mind the e.e. cummings poem “[In Just-].” It’s a happy poem reminding one that as long as there are springs, there will always be excited children running outdoors to play, hollering back at someone in the house, “I don’t need a coat — it’s hot!”

Here is the poem:

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s
spring
and

the

goat-footed

balloonMan whistles
far
and
wee

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Photo: Big Belly
Foot-pedal version of Big Belly for those who are squeamish about handles. (That would be me.)

Those Swedes! What will they think of next?

Are you familiar with the Big Belly solar-powered trash compactors sprouting up in public places? Well, in Uppsala, Sweden, the trash compactors have been taught to sing.

From a company post on Youtube: “Bigbelly International Partner, EWF, introduced an innovative and inspiring campaign to raise awareness of the Bigbelly Smart Waste & Recycling system in the metropolitan city of Uppsala, Sweden – home to one of the largest deployments in the world.

“The Uppsala ‘Waste Choir’ had their first performance during the Valborg celebrations on April 30th. Valborg is an annual holiday to welcome spring in Sweden. …

“The beautifully wrapped Bigbellys – each as a unique character and voice in the choir – stood together in front of 60,000+ visitors to the city and sang traditional Swedish songs in celebration of spring! …

“As noted in a press release regarding the campaign: ‘Citizens and visitors could for the first time listen to a garbage choir during the famous celebration of Walpurgis in the University City of Uppsala. The choir consists of 20 so called smart dust bins run by solar energy. Uppsala and Sweden are known for their many choirs.

“Maria Gardfjell (MP), chairman of the responsible municipal board had the honor of introducing the choir and informing the audience about other commitments to diminish littering.

“Fundamentally, it is an issue of changing attitudes and to encourage all of us to put our litter where it belongs, in a dust bin. … Since Uppsala introduced smart dust bins in 2013, the visible litter in the City Park and other main parks has decreased by 20 percent. The work environment for the sanitary workers has improved and the usage of plastic bags has decreased by 80 percent.”

Read the press release in full, here. And listen to the singing trash cans here:

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Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers! This mother is indulging her interest in photography today (the simple kind: pointing and shooting with a phone). So here are a few recent pictures and explanations for the less obvious.

For example: I went out for a walk one evening and was surprised to encounter Morris Dancers on the steps of the library. They seemed to be practicing, not performing. Where would Morris dancers be performing in late April, after Patriots Day? That was a mystery. Another mystery to me was how young men and boys get drawn into performing Morris Dance. I’m sure it’s good exercise, but …

I include shots of a clay bird’s shadow on my wall and hedge shadows on a sidewalk. The fence with the stage coach and other old timey images painted along the railings is in Providence — easy to overlook when walking past.

Providence plaques and memorials. The one of Martin Luther King Jr. is on a bridge with a view of Water Place. The monument to an event Rhode Island celebrates as the real first engagement of the American Revolution — the colonists’  clash with Brits on the HMS Gaspee — is partly obscured by bushes.

Little old Rhode Island gets no respect. It was also the first colony to sign on for independence, May 4, 1776. Who knew?

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It rained hard at noon, but the stalwarts opening booths for the first farmers market of the season hung on and before long the weather cleared, and it was sunny and warm.

Today I’m posting some recent outdoor photos from Massachusetts and Rhode Island and thinking particularly how seed pods, the smell of lilacs, and small landscapers make me happy.

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At Global Envision, Seth Heller blogged about an organization that provides inexpensive eyeglasses to poor people in the developing world.

“We often take clear vision for granted,” writes Heller, “but Peter Eliassen knows that eyeglasses can be the difference between financial security and poverty for many in the developing world. As the chief operating officer of VisionSpring, Eliassen travels the globe making reasonably priced eyewear available for people who cannot otherwise afford them. …

“VisionSpring estimates more than 703 million people around the world need eyeglasses. Without vision correction, people are unable to secure employment during their prime working years, and supporting a family becomes almost impossible. …

“VisionSpring’s eyeglasses are priced around $4 and typically boost the wearer’s wage by an average of $108 per year – a significant amount in many developing nations. …

“However, a worker’s clear vision can be life-changing to many people outside their family. …

“The correlation between good public health and economic growth in developing nations is strong. If developing nations can reduce unemployment by solving ongoing public health problems such as impaired vision, the socioeconomic benefits can improve the lives of a nation’s entire population.” More here.

The story came to me by way of the Christian Science Monitor‘s Change Agent listserv.

Photo: Thatcher Cook/Mercy Corps
Eyeglasses from VisionSpring.

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It’s April 1st, and I have been looking for spring. There was a nice little surprise in my front yard — snowdrops next to the snow (still not melted). But when I went looking for spring in Fort Point at lunch, there were no flowers or even leaf buds. I’m happy with the blue sky, anyway, and the angle of light. Here are a few photos.

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These photos are mostly from walks in Concord, although one is from Blithewold in Bristol, R.I. I’d like to develop my eye for good shots in winter, but there are so many more reasons to take pictures in spring! I especially love old, blasted trees with delicate, young flowers. I include one, a dogwood. The lilac in the graveyard is another tree that doesn’t know it’s not as hale and hearty as ever.

On Nashawtuc, a hundred different bird calls replaced the sounds of traffic.

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Photo: Bryn Mawr College

Happy May Day, the old-fashioned kind that involves surprise flowers and dancing around the May Pole.

This year’s came in like a lion, with icy rain, and is going out like a lamb. Spring can’t be stopped now.

Here are a few photos of the season.

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