Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ice Sounds

Around the Oxbow along Rt. 5 in Northampton, Mass, the ice begins to take form.

The morning sun creeps over the mountain.

The ice begins to growl as if it is hungry.

Pancakes, anyone?

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eyebrow Clucking

Overheard in the living room:

Your eyebrows look different. Have you been getting them done?

"Yes, for the last 6 months. You mean to tell me you've only just noticed?"

I guess. They look good. Even, like. Who's been doing them?


Doesn't that hurt?

"No, she waxes them."

Oh, that's good.... Can you pass me the remote? Anderson Cooper is on.

-- photos from McCray's farm, South Hadley, Mass.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Urban Walkabout: Chicopee

I grew up here. It was here I learned to read and write, add and subtract, ride a bike, play soccer, basketball and baseball, learn piano and trumpet and drive a car. It was also here that I learned to smoke and drink beer, fight, kiss girls, manipulate my way through high school and avoid the police. I’ve been away most of my adult life and walking though this city seems strangely foreign to me. The sights and sounds are unrecognizable. The memories seem like something I read in a book or seen in a movie. Like all those things happened to someone else. In some other place.

Let’s take a walk:

Cabot Mill. Just one of the places I never really noticed. The old mills are beautiful artifacts related to the history of the city. Dad says a few German POWs during WWII were housed in these mills. There was also a camp at Westover AFB. Although a good portion of them were taken to upper-state Maine.

Chicopee High School. The absolute worst years of my life were spent here. I nearly didn't graduate because I refused to take gym class. Spending 3 or 4 hours a day after school at baseball or soccer practice was enough exercise for me, I thought. The vice principal thought differently. My cousin, Miss Pula, a gym teacher, saved me. Although I didn't deserve it.

I often played pool here. I got into a fist fight once that spilled out into the street. It was over a girl, of course. When the cops came I got away. I always did.

I scored a few goals here. Our team won the state soccer championship in 1984 against some team from eastern Mass. But our highlight was beating Ludlow in the Western Mass finals.

Szot Park. After snapping this photo a young boy and his dad approached me. "It's decommissioned", the boy said. "So am I", I countered.

The Collegian Court is for sale. Looking through the windows I notice the tables are neatly set, bottles of booze adorn the bar, menus are stacked and waiting, cloth napkins are folded neatly. But the doors are locked.

The old Fisk/Uniroyal tire plant still stands proudly. I recall buying sneakers here. PF Flyers. I guess they made the rubber soles.

I'm sure I bought beer here. I looked old for my age. When I was 15 I looked at least 18. Although the drinking age was 21.

The old Rivoli theater. Saw many movies here. Recently, there was hope that some Russian entrepreneurs would renovate the building and create a night club. Many dreamed of a new Brighton Beach dinner club scene. It never happened.

I always joked with my Mom that she should be careful. She might end up here one day. Those days are coming closer.

Typical 4 floor walk-up in the center of town. I've been to this house many times. But not lately. The clothes lines are a nice, new added feature.

I must have walked past this building dozens of times. But only now do I take time to notice its uniqueness.

The entrepreneurial spirit is always alive here. Bob's bakery: keeping Chicopee nice and happy. And fat.

Author's reflection in the window of Chicopee Savings Bank

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wachusett Mountain State Reservation: The climb and views are great. The beer? Not so much.

I often notice 12 packs of blueberry beer from Wachusett Brewing Company in the case at my local liquor store and think, "one of these days I’ve got to go up to that mountain."

The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built wonderful stone steps along Pine Hill trail which led to the summit. This made the ascent a breeze. I love those guys.

If there is a fire, they'll see it first, probably.

I spoke to a kid who drove up the ski trail on an ATV. He asked me if I wanted a ride down. Although it might have been fun, I politely declined.

View into New Hampshire. I haven’t been to Mt. Monadnock in quite some time. Glad to see it’s still there.

Looking east. The Boston skyline faintly in the distance.

Place to sit and enjoy the view. Looking northeast towards Fitchburg. I snacked on some almonds here.

The visitor’s center had a fire going. It was peaceful to sit and reflect on a nice walk. On the drive home I stopped and bought a mixed 12 pack of Wachusett beer. Thumbs up on the hike. Thumbs down on the beer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Iceman Cometh, Ed Asner, zip lines and riding in cars

(Southampton, Mass.) We drove up to Crooked Ledge rd. to explore an old unmarked road. It's always mid-afternoon when I end up at these places. Who knows what the best light is? Who cares?

Stone walls and foundations. "Look here," I say. "That rock under there? Who knows when the last time it was touched by a human being? 300 years ago? Amazing, right?"
But I only pretend to say it. I keep it to myself and just sigh.

Whispered, I hear, "I think Rob is looking tired, and was he mumbling about being an iceman and how icemen could make a comeback, and you have to capture the opportunity or something. Being an iceman? Do you think Rob looks tired?"
Leave him alone, he's fine, I hear countered. Complemented with a sharp burp.

Brush with fame is the game. Go: Ed Ansner is named. "He was rude at an event I coordinated but later found out he was just bored and messing with me because I was new." Lots of snappy responses, including: appropriate ways of dealing with the Ted Knight laugh, Mary, Betty White. Lots of laughing. Good times.

"Nice cold storage. Drag ice here from the pond. Or put it up on your wagon. Either way you could get it here. If I had a block of ice here in July or August? I could get some syrup and make a fortune..."
I turn and realize I'm talking to myself.

A walk up an old unmarked road wouldn't be complete without an old car. Not sure of the make of this but I'd guess the late 60s or early 70s. First car I drove was a '72 Cadillac.

Has a UMass parking sticker on the bumper. Maybe Tommy Devine rode in the back seat at some point? Hubba hubba!

Turns out this was Edwards Rd., which lead into a residential neighborhood.

Trail description:

Rocky and can develop into a small stream after a decent rainstorm. 90 mins up and back to car. No dramatic incline. A zip line was discovered (below).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trees of Peace: Mohawk Trail State Forest

The weather forecast indicated clear skies. But we ended up sitting in the car for about 45 minutes waiting for a snow squall to pass. Although it was late in the afternoon we stuck it out.

Cold river. And it was.

Built by the CCC. Cabins are available all year. We'll come back for snowshoeing and spend the night here.

We like tent camping but this might be a little warmer in the winter months.

Lots of different trees having a meeting. The United Nations of the Mohawk trail.

Trails in the woods lead to an open meadow.

White pines are very tall. It is reported the tallest tree in Massachusetts is here someplace.

Old stone walls. There are ghosts here.

This sign was off the trail. I noticed it by accident.

Walking down to the natural trail and meadow.

Old truck from the 40s. Who doesn't love finding old cars in the woods?

Monday, September 13, 2010


Here are some places around that are not here, still here and modified a bit:

Taken at my grandparents' house on Lyman St., in S Hadley in 1968. Probably while Dad was experimenting with his coffee treatment. Poppy was the caretaker for the Notre Dame cemetery for many years. The house was located on the cemetery and was moved, eventually. Not sure where.

20 Grandview St., S Hadley. Babcia and Jaju had this really cool pool. It was seasonal.

Brand new house at 91 8th avenue in the Fairview section of Chicopee. Nice placement of shrubs, I think. Here's a modern day walk through this neighborhood.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mighty Tasty

The tomatoes look pretty good. And the raspberries are huge. Let's get some!

(Oliver st., Easthampton, Ma.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Field of Ferns

Walking along Blue Meadow Rd., Belchertown, near the Quabbin.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Making new friends

I'm determined to be more social and get out there and meet some birds. Here's some folks I met over the last few weeks. Some were chatty. Some didn't say much.

(Quabbin Reservoir)

Mr. L decided to drop in. He was being noisy. But I like it.

Some of us have more to say than others.

(Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Lenox, Ma.)

Lunch with Mr. Blue Heron. I already ate my rodent, but please, dig right in!

(Around Bassett Island, Quabbin)

We were invading this young eagle's turf. So we moved on. He was nice about it, though.

(Connecticut River, Holyoke, Ma.)

We chatted about the Patriots upcoming season. Then Mr. 'GBH had to fly off.

(Canal Park, S Hadley, Ma.)

Mrs. E has got the itch for more cowbell, probably. We chatted about bugs.

(Canal Park, S Hadley, Ma.)

(Lower Pond, Mt. Holyoke College)

Mrs. D told me she can't wait for the day they can drive themselves around.