Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lowell Folk Festival, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

The 25th Annual Lowell Folk Festival was held this weekend. It is the largest (or maybe 2nd largest) free folk festival in the nation attended by hundreds of thousands.  This year featured continuous music on six outdoor stages. Performers represented folk, bluegrass, gospel, world music and dance. It is a family friendly event with an international array of folk music, ethnic foods, craftspeople and artisans, as well as kid’s activities.

This year's weather was beyond extraordinary - mid 80's with low humidity and a good breeze blowing.  Past year's have often been hot, humid, no wind, and too many people too close together.  It was a glorious summer day in New England.

A western swing and Texas fiddling band at one of the six performance stages.  Notice all the hats in the audience, more on hat/ no-hat later.......
The crowd at the Boardinghouse Park stage awaiting the start of an Irish band........

A popular group from Rajasthan in northwestern India.

Here's the hat/ no-hat debate in living color - I think the hat wins.

I have been to a number of festivals in my life but seeing a Burmese food booth is a first.

Thai food is always a popular option.

Another unusual booth.

When one considers the range of wonderful tastes represented from around the world, it is interesting to note our North American contribution is Fried Dough - even the British have more exciting cuisine.

This was the largest dog seen at the event and he was quite the hit.

You won't believe how many times the mother of this child shrieked at him to get out of the fountain - he was not persuaded and she could not physically reach him so she shouted many empty threats to the great entertainment of the other bemused adults watching (including me).  Whatever consequences he may have faced later did not outweigh his fun at the moment - ahhh, to be a kid and live in the moment.......... 

And last but not least, I must note the obvious violation of the expected human male dress code:  black knee socks with velcro-closure black shoes on spindly white legs are not authorized when wearing shorts -EVER!! - regardless of how old you are (except at Halloween parties).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer in New England, White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach looking north. "Flag Rock" is visible in the water at center.

White Horse Beach looking south. Manomet Point is in the distance.

The globe thistle is a spectacular metallic blue perennial summer plant.  Looks like blue fireworks.

The individual shoots begin to bloom and then the bumble bees just love to visit......

Ever notice sometimes a big colored lump on a bumble bee's leg?

Bumble bees have a great feature for when they are collecting pollen. They have little "pollen baskets" on each of the two rear legs into which they pack the pollen until they have a full load.  You can see that feature very clearly in the above photos. And  we humans think we're so smart with our backpacks, fanny packs, shoulder packs, etc........  The humble bumble bee, who has some challenges flying anyway, seems to do pretty well even carrying full pollen baskets big as Harley-Davidson saddle bags. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hyannis, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA

Learning to sail in the waters of Hyannis harbor is a rite of passage for some fortunate New England youth.

The ultimate in recycling - here's a great practical and artistic use for a rowboat that has finished its life at sea.

In case you've ever wondered where all the marker buoy floats attached to lobster traps and crab pots come from - here is the secret - they are grown in gardens like this one at Hyannis harbor. These marker buoys are members of the species Scirpus lacustris, commonly called "bulrushes," a grasslike cyperaceous marsh/wetland plant. Selective genetic breeding now produces different colored and striped heads suitable for differentiating among traps. (Since you're reading this on the internet it must be true, right?)

I'm not telling who owns this boat but, having this much power on such a small boat says something about a particular physical attribute of its male owner - it's either way too big or way too small........

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bunker Hill, Charlestown, Massachusetts, USA

On June 17, 1775, the first major confrontation of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Bunker Hill,  was fought here on Breed's Hill just outside Boston, MA.  Although the British won this battle, it marked a moral victory for the patriots by demonstrating that they could and would stand up against the might of the British soldiers.  The rest, as they say, is history.
The 221 feet tall monument was constructed of local Quincy granite in the early/mid 1800's. Access to the top is via an interior winding staircase of 294 steps.  If you make it to the top you will see the city of Charlestown in the foreground and Boston to the south......

......... Charlestown in the foreground and East Boston and Logan Airport to the east...... 

.....and Charlestown in the foreground and Somerville to the west.

The patriots were led by Colonel William Prescott.  He is famously reputed to have said to his soldiers, "do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes," so that his troops would shoot at the enemy at close range,  more accurately and successfully, and also to conserve limited supplies of ammunition.

A typical street scene in Charlestown located just below the monument.  Note the gas lamps.

A fountain in City Square in Charlestown. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Long Beach, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

I had the opportunity to accompany a small group from the  Plymouth Digital Photography Club (PDP) for a walk out to the tip of  Long Beach in Plymouth.  The good news is it was led by an expert young birder, Ian Davies, in association with the Goldenrod Foundation.  The bad news is it just happened to take place on the hottest day of the summer when the entire East Coast of the United States was locked in a 100+ F heat wave. Nevertheless, a good time was mostly  had by all.

Long Beach is a narrow peninsula that juts out into Plymouth Bay.  It is accessible only by 4-wheel drive vehicle.  There are no municipal water, sewer, or electrical services so -  the dozen or so homes must use solar, wind, or propane to provide power; they must drill wells or haul water in; and they must use an individual septic system or composting toilets.

Here members of the photo club jockey for position to capture just that perfect angle for the magic of Plymouth's very own 'stonehenge'.  If everything is just right, they can photograph the perfect shadow before it disappears at sunset - if they are not successful, the aliens who built 'stonehenge' may send a horrible ray that either eviscerates the photographer or, at the very least, takes away their big fancy lenses and gives them Kodak Instamatics with film instead - they are motivated to succeed.

Much of the dunescape above the high tide line is protected habitat during parts of the summer when the literally thousands of pairs of terns and plovers nest to raise their young.  The furrows shown above are either: mountain ranges as seen from outer space or, plowed crop fields as seen from an airplane or, carefully sculpted sand barriers made by the tern and plover parents to protect their young or, something else entirely.

As you can tell from listening to the audio/video clip above, the birds are not happy that humans walk by on the beach anywhere near their homes (even though the humans are well outside the restricted areas).  The actual sensation of being surrounded on all sides and above by these squawking birds is only marginally captured in the audio/video clip - ya' kinda' had to be there.

But all things must come to an end...... a hearty thanks to PDP and the Goldenrod Foundation.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA

I have always wondered why it was necessary that  the entire "arm" of Cape Cod was completely severed from the mainland of the state of Massachusetts.  That separation was achieved when this seven mile long Cape Cod Canal opened in 1914.  Pictured above is one of the two automobile bridges in use today that connect the areas.

The idea for a canal goes as far back as the mid-1600's but it wasn't until the late 1800's that the impetus reached critical mass to get it done. 

At the other end of the Cape farthest away from the canal, one of many spectacular beaches, Race Point Beach in Provincetown is pictured above. Much of the coast's natural beauty on Cape Cod is now part of  the Cape Cod National Seashore. The beauty and pastoral calm throughout the Cape is renowned but, there is more to the story.....

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, hundreds of vessels with thousands of lives and tons of goods were lost in shipwrecks along the outer Cape.   The last surviving and restored Life Saving Station is pictured above.  It was one of the  thirteen established and staffed by the U.S. Life Saving Service from the 1870's until 1915.  All were located along the Atlantic side of the Cape to respond to shipwrecks.

This tragic and cumulative loss of life and property was the driving reason that led to the construction and opening of the canal in 1914 (it also shortened the trip by water).

So now, any overage, overweight male tourist with flabby pecs can stroll the beach without worry about shipwrecks offshore (and no - that is not me in the picture) . 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dexter's Grist Mill, Sandwich, Massachusetts, USA

This is Dexter's Grist Mill on Cape Cod in Sandwich, Massachusetts. The original mill on this site began milling corn in the mid-1600's. Early settlers would bring their dried corn here and the miller would grind it into corn meal.
There have been grain mills for perhaps two thousand years or so on this earth. Think about that - someone decided that if you take dried up corn, hard as small stones, and crush it fine enough, you could eat it and survive. How hungry must people have been to consider and then arrive at that conclusion.

Corn is the number one field crop in the U.S. It is also grown on every continent except Antarctica and eaten throughout the world in various forms.  The dried corn kernels go into the hopper.

Then this mechanism feeds the kernels into the grinding stones which are powered by the stream water turning the water wheel.

And out comes 100% pure cornmeal - no additives.  You can make bread, cookies,  pancakes,  muffins, scones, polenta, tamales, tortillas, and countless other foods and products.
It is truly "a-maize-ing" the things we've figured out to do in order to survive on this planet.

Cape Cod, Sandwich, Massachusetts, USA

The cluster of tiny people on the boardwalk at the center of this photo is the quintessential collection of kids daring each other to jump off the bridge into the water.

Lots of them jumped - and the visionary builders of the bridge had included ladders built into the bridge structure knowing this annual rite of passage for kids would be needed every year into the future.  Instead of fences, they built ladders - think about that.  It's encouraging and heart-warming to see that we haven't let the lawyers strip us of every last human behavior from childhood just because something might be dangerous.

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Personally, I'm not much into any religion but, the main church of Christian Science and the offices of their news publication, the Christian Science Monitor, are located in downtown Boston. They have a spectacular property and it seems largely open to the public.  Here is a glimpse:

South End, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Union Park neighborhood of the South End boasts the traditional townhomes of  red brick, black wrought iron, and broad stone steps of yesteryear, ......

....a sun-dappled park....

...complete with a gurgling fountain.