Category Archives: Fall

Adventures in the Lowell Cemetery, Part 1

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The weekend before Halloween, Yang and paid a visit to the Lowell Cemetery.  It isn’t the oldest burial ground in the city, but it’s probably the most Gothic, designed in the Romantic style, after Mt. Auburn in Cambridge, MA.  The fall colors were uneven in Lowell, as in most of central Mass.  However, we were able to get some lovely background shots, as you can see here.  Yang took this photo of the gate and a beautiful sugar maple next to it, from the inside of the cemetery.

 

The combination of fall colors and crypts and monuments made some wonderfully seasonable shots, especially since the cemetery has some unique and beautifully crafted monuments.  I love the  highlight the orange-flame gives to this crypt.

 

 

 

 

I was especially taken by this pillar topped with a kind of medieval church spire.   The burnt oranges and reds of the scenery create beautiful surroundings in the amber autumn sunset.    I was so impressed with the top of this monument, that I had to get a close up of it.  Definitely reminiscent of something out of the High Middle Ages.
Of course there were also some shots of the trees that were absolutely enthralling, too!

 

 

I was particularly taken with this relief carving of an angel ministering to penitent soul, on a stone nestled by a green pine against a background of soft  orange and golden foliage.

 

 

 

The relief carvings were some of the most striking and beautiful monuments that we viewed in the Lowell Cemetery.  One of the first ones that I noticed was of this angel presiding over the tomb with a cross.  Like many of the statues and monuments, it revealed its antiquity by the way mold, lichen, and moss had blurred its features. I love the way the sinking sun lends an gleam of divinity over the guardian angel.

 

 

The Parker crypt is guarded by two figures carved on either side of the entrance.  I’m not sure who or what the two figures represent beyond sorrow at death. Since we have a major thoroughfare in Lowell called Parker Street, and this tomb is on the elaborates side, the family must have been quite a powerful one in Lowell. No one named Ben, May, or Peter was listed on the site.

 

 

This stone combines media, stone and bronze.  Does the figure represent Death or Fate, quieting our questions and fears about what comes next with a finger to the lips.  I’m not sure if the form is male or female.  It’s more solemn than reassuring – a sober warning to the living that no secrets, hopes, or words escape from those who’ve passed beyond this vale of tears – or vale of soul-making if you’re into Keats.  Or maybe even this is a warning to give up asking questions when you enter into a realm beyond thought and languages as we know them.  Perhaps a close up will help us better read the warning of this eerie being, shroud ethereally encircling it.

 

 

Arguably my favorite monument is the verdigris-bronze piece on the front of this stone monument arching up from the hillside.  Who is buried here?  What is the person’s past?  Beliefs? to inspire such a powerful and eerie figure.  She seems like a sybil spreading her capes in warning – or is she an embodiment of Death come to sweep down on us and enfold us in her flowing, boundless cape?  I really need to do some research on the history of these wonderful works.  Are there any sculptures by famous or venerated artists in this cemetery?  At any rate, she definitely deserves a close up.

 

I have lots more photos to share, however, I don’t want you to succumb to cemetery overload.  This is enough delicious melancholy for now.  But don’t you think this place is so perfect a setting for parts of a Gothic novel?  I already have some ideas “haunting” my brain.  Anyway, I promise you another blog with more pictures soon.

Return to Pittsfield for Fall Beauty

 

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 A week ago Saturday, Yang and I had the pleasure of biking on the rail trail from Pittsfield to Adams, MA.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day with the sunshine, pellucid blue October skies, and mild weather.  Fortunately for us, the foliage was just moving into peak, giving us some lovely sights.  Here I go!
The following photos start at the end of the trail in Adams because we wanted to make sure we could get that far, so we didn’t stop for photos on the way down.  To our surprise, the trail had been extended by about two miles along the new rail tracks and the Hoosic River.  After 12.5 miles, we had to take a little break.  The sun softly and warmly lit the surrounding hills, but I don’t think my camera could quite capture the magic.  Still, I think the image is pretty neat.  Also pretty neat is Yang taking a break and noshing on a Honey Crisp apple.  We’ve got way too many, since I accidentally bought a bag of them instead of Macs for apple pie.

 

 

 

 

Coming back through Adams, we saw a gorgeous Great Blue Heron skim by along the Hoosic, but we couldn’t catch up to him to get a shot.  Nevertheless, as we came back through town, I managed to get this picture of the twin spires of a Catholic church rising between the town buildings and the warm seasonal colors of the surrounding hills.  What must it feel like to live nestled in the arms of autumn glory?
Going into Adams, along the trail, you rush down a steep slope, accompanied by the galloping river.  It’s a kick to ride down.  Going back up it is a kick in the pants!  What an incline!  I still managed to charge up to the top without stopping.  This old gal can still make it without having to walk her  bike.  Yippee  for me!  Once you get to the top, there’s a bridge over the pooling river where you can rest – and fish!  We met a young dad taking his son fishing.  They were after trout, but further toward Pittsfield I had talked to a young guy who’d caught a pickerel.  Didn’t think to get a picture, though.  Anyway, here’s the other side of the bridge with the handsome Yang looking profound and happy.

 

 

 

 

On the ride back, we luxuriated in watching the surrounding hills changing into their fall vestments!  Lovely, right?

 

 

 

There were other trees that created a wondrous concert of colors:  blending with one another or even displaying a deliciously complimentary palette all in one tree.  Delighting in these gorgeous crimsons, oranges that flamed or shone a gentle peach, yellows pale or startling, I thought of the fourth novel I planned in my Jessica Minton series. It will be set in a Maine in a vibrant autumn show of color.  The beauty of this season, the liminal sense of freedom and haunting adventure draws me to create a tale of delicious mystery and spirit.

 

 

 

 

We rode toward the end of our journey, with visions of crepes and tea dancing in our heads – 25 miles works up an appetite!  But the beauty of New England fall never deserted us.  So, enjoy the ride  along with us.

 

 

A Breath of Autumn

 

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Here’s a melange of interesting autumn images that I’ve come across this past September. One Friday afternoon, while riding the bicycle trail from Coventry, Yang and I came across these funky caterpillars. We’d seen them last fall on the same trail, so apparently these are their main stomping, er crawling, grounds. Does any one know into what they ultimately metamorph? Notice how they have prongs on their derrieres, no doubt to confuse predators as to which end they are biting. We wonder what these guys are.

The following weekend, we did 22 miles on the Nickerson Park Trail on the Cape. What should we see on the trail but this adorable quail! I suspect s/he is domesticated because the little critter did not seem at all unnerved by passing cyclists or walkers. I’ve seen pictures of domesticated quails on line, and this little guy seems to match up. Nevertheless, I’m counting him/her as one of my bird sightings for the year. I hope you can see the little guy in the center of the picture to left on the trail, almost in the leaves. Click on the image for a bigger picture.

 

Though not nearly as cute, here are some pictures of me in Brattleboro, VT. Every year this house creates a tunnel of enormous sunflowers. We went up last weekend and took these shots. The house used to also have a hutch for chickens and bunnies, but alas, those adorable creatures are no longer kept there. I’m not quite so adorable as a bunny, but I like to think I have some charm. Yang staged the photos nicely, don’t you think? Is there anything he can’t do?

 

 

 

Finally, Natasha desires to send you the best of autumn holiday greetings!

 

Rosie wants to photo bomb Natasha’s greeting – and Natasha is NOT amused.

 


 



Fall Preveiw

People have been a bit sad over the ending of summer, but we’re forgetting the glorious colors of autumn.  Already some of the trees, vines, and bushes are shifting into hues of scarlet, maroon, gold, orange, brilliant yellow.  And don’t forget the breathtaking contrast with the pellucid blue skies of the season.  So, I thought you might like a little preview of the beauties in store for us, courtesy of the reservoir in West Boylston and the hills around my home.

 

 

Right across the street from the stone church in West Boylston are some wonderful trails through the woods and around the reservoir.  You can enjoy the calming umbers of fallen leaves in this flowing brook, with just a highlight of pine and hemlock green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe you’re looking for something to make your eyes pop!  Like the scarlet magnificence of this beauty, exquisitely contrasting with the greens shading into yellow, blending with the fiery oranges bursting from yellow – all against the compliment of that pure October sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 Here is a more individualized look at one of those green-morphing-yellow tress. A maple, maybe?  First the long shot.

 

 

 

 

Now, she’s ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille!

 

 

Perhaps most beautiful of all is this panorama of the brilliant hues on the opposite shore, across an arm of the reservoir.  Breathtaking, right?
And of course it’s no fun to take a walk through all this gorgeous scenery without someone to share it!  Here’s my special companion.  I’ll bet you can guess who.And look at that warm coat!  Do you still remember how it feels to have a little nip in the air?
I don’t even have to go far from home to enjoy the fall finery.  Look at some of the trees surrounding where I live.

 

 

Finally, there’s that wonderful October sky, pure blue with the graceful swirl of silver, grey, and white clouds.  So, the coming autumn isn’t that bad, after all, is it?

 

Autumnal Woodlawn Cemetery – No Blinking!

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Three years ago, Yang and I took an autumnal visit to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.  This was our second visit.  Our first was in the summer, and we took many woodlawn1photos of the gorgeous sepulchres with their ornate carvings of lions and sphinxes, as well as beautiful stained glass inside.  This time, with the fall leaves beginning their metamorphoses into vivid colors, we concentrated on the outdoor imagery.  I love the way this angel is framed by the flaming curve of the branch and leaves above it.

 

 

woodlawn4I also found this figure fascinating, straining for freedom, emerging from his marble prison – perhaps to burst the bonds of the body’s clay and fly away on the sharp wind of the north to eternity.

 

 

 

woodlawn10We found this image especially beautiful, the soft orange of the tree leaves providing a brilliant background contrast to the soft grey/white of the stone and  the gentle and flowing draperies of woman portrayed here.

 

 

 

 

 

This woman draped meltingly over the tomb stone in her anguish was a deliciously melancholy image to ponder.woodlawn2 I actually manged to find a piece similar to this monument from Toscano to add to my own Halloween graveyard in my front yard this year.

 

 

 

I’m fascinated by this monument.  My guess is that the chap memorialized in Roman senatorial garb must have been a judge or a  high political figure. woodlawn3 I hope he met a better end than Julius Caesar!  I thought the warm orange of the tree behind his imposing statue made an appealing contrast.  Stern but not harsh features on this chap.

 

 

 

 

Happily, we found a wonderful living denizen in the cemetery.  woodlawn9Woodlawn also contains a beautiful reflecting lake, and this Great Egret found it just the ticket!  Of course, he was probably more up to fishing than reflecting – a bird’s got to eat!
There were other typical Victorian monuments, wonderfully complemented by the fall colors.woodlawn6  Here is a mother with her children.  One hopes this is not a comment on the high mother/child mortality rate but rather a celebration of deep feelings between parent and children.
I was intrigued by this praying woman, high atop her monument.  woodlawn11She almost has an aspect of the Catholic Virgin Mary, not what you would expect in a seemingly predominantly Protestant cemetery.  Again, the autumn trees provide a pleasurable contrast to the cool white and grey-aged stone.

 

 

This cemetery is indeed a pleasure to stroll through, just be sure to bring your camera – whatever season you visit!

Here’s a link that gives you a virtual tour.

 

October Images Part Two

It’s December today, but we have no glittering snow icing, cool blue in the shade or soft pink in the sunset.  Just dead, crusty leaves and bare, scraggly branches.  So, how about one last lingering look at October’s brilliance?  These shots are from two trips, one afoot and one a-wheel!
Yang and I found a new bicycle ride outside of Boston, The Neponset River Trail, which runs along the river out to the Blue Hills.  Here is a portion that cuts along and across a canal (via a bridge of course!).  Neponset1The trees look striking, reflected in the water, and must provide a lovely view to people living in the mill converted to apartments.

 

 

We started the ride from Pope John Paul Park, Neponset2where the river is almost an estuary.  If you ride away from Milton, the river broadens and becomes tumultuous as it races toward the ocean.  Neponset4

 

 

 

 

 

 That’s not in any of these shots, though.

 

Neponset3Yang had a good time! We both had to pause for a rest on the way back!

 

 

 

 

Our other recorded trip was to the wilds of the forested hills of Leicester.Spidergate1 It was a lovely Friday afternoon, shortly after Yang got out of classes.  The colors here were a blend of yellow and toasted orange. Spidergate2

 

 

 

 

 

Spidergate4The red golds of autumn were not yet lying in the gutter dead (tip o’ the hat to Graeme Edge).
The hat in this shot would be my marine blue beret, which I bought in France last spring.  Spidergate3As long as we’re on international wardrobe, my in-laws from China gave me the coat when I visited them last autumn.

 

 

Delving into the woods, we came across the backwash from a pond.  Spidergate6The autumn sky’s pellucid blue is such a striking complement to green pines and the fall colors.

 

 

 

Hiking back to our car along the road, the evening began to close in, so that the last flare of the sun created a vibrant flame of color in the  trees.Spidergate7

 

 

 

 

 

All that tramping and beauty makes a body hungry.  So Yang and I repaired to Le Mirage for sustenance. As you can see, Mr. Piranha made short work of his meal.
Spidergate8 Sadly, this was the last night of this wonderful restaurant.  Le Mirage is now closed, and so  lovely meals, good times, and good friends are now relegated to memories. Much thanks to Diane, her family, and her staff.

Halloween on Beacon Hill

This year, like many others, we went to Beacon Hill in Boston for Halloween.  I don’t know how many years the residents have been celebrating with elaborate, creative, undeniably SCARY decorations, but we have been enjoying their eerie creative edeavors for  close to ten years.  This year was, Wait For IT! – SPOOKTACULAR!  BeaconHill7Forgive my channeling Shawn and Gus from Psych.

 

 

 

The picture above doesn’t give you an idea of how packed the streets are with people of all ages, most in some form of costume.  You wouldn’t believe all the Imperial Troopers, Princess Leias, Spocks, robots, zombies, witches, vampires, Stay Puff Marshmallow Men, etc. we saw. The picture below gives you a better idea.

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That’s me in the gold coat and a sparkly green witch-hat fascinator.  The little kid in the tiger costume was too quick – I couldn’t take a snatch at her candy bag – Heh, heh, heh!

 

People also elaborately, artistically carved pumpkins.  Here are some of my favorites.BeaconHill8

You never knew what you’d see peering out a window

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or climbing out grates:

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arms, legs, projections of ghosts and zombie.BeaconHill12

 

 

 

 

 

All that tramping around worlds of terror BeaconHill5requires a moment to relax my tootsies.  I hope that hand coming out the window isn’t going to push me off the steps!  Or worse, grab something out of my wallet.

 

The prime display was in a courtyard between two buildings.  You need to stand in line to get in and look around.  BeaconHill9This family has projections on the walls, fake fog, human-sized creepy mannequins, and folks dressed in scary rat costumes (including one “caught” in a giant rat trap!)  Natasha and Rosalind would have been terrified! BeaconHill10These folks even give candy to adults!  Unfortunately, this was the last year they will be doing the super display.  Will someone else be able to “resurrect” such creative horror?

 

People giving out candy also get into the “spirit,” with elaborate costumes.  You see witches, mad scientists, zombies.  One year, a woman was Cruella Deville.BeaconHill14I love this woman’s Snow Queen or Fairy Queen ensemble – complete with a matching (real live!) poodle on her lap! She was kind enough to let us take her picture – and her dog agreed, too.

At the end of this journey into terror, we bopped down the street to our favorite restaurant Caffe Bella Vita.  It was fun seeing all the folks, young and old, pass by the window, some greeting Yang and I with mock threats of horror, while we returned the favor by responding with playful terror.  BeaconHill13As usual, Yang finished off my sandwich – my chai was all mine, though!  How do you like my little green fascinator? Can you see Yang reflected in the mirror, taking the picture?

 

 

At the end of the evening, we turned to a designated driver we found onBeaconHill1 Beacon Hill to get us home.  As the Three Stooges would say, “Nyaaaaaaahhhhh!”

Natasha and Rosalind Give “Monster” Therapy

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the creature created by Frankenstein  demands that humanity take their fair share of responsibility for their abusive treatment making him as much a monster on the inside as he appears on the outside:  “Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humanity sinned against me? . . . .I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, kicked, and trampled on.  Even now my blood boils at the recollection of this injustice.”  How different things would have turned out for him (and most of Switzerland!) if, after his “father” Victor spurned him, the creature had been taken in paw by my cats Natasha and Rosalind.Halloween14a  They have nothing but tenderness, friendliness, and courtesy for the “monsters” – although mice are another matter.  Look at this adorable face!

 

 

Here is Natasha proudly keeping company with her new monstrous acquaintance.  Halloween2No contumely or spurning can be seen on her furry countenance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course ‘Tasha is always solicitous of her companion’s Dscn1231well-being.  A well-timed nuzzle is just the thing to make a creature forget all about those nasty villagers and their pitchforks or flaming torches!

 

 

 

 

Most important of all, Natasha Rose knows that it’s important to listen and learn from others. Halloween3You can expand your horizons, and you build others’ confidence by validating that they have something valuable to teach you!  Here, she attentively follows the observations of a friendly Halloween death’s head.

 

 

 

And of course, sometimes it’s nice just to have a relaxing sit down with a screaming good guest in the parlor.

Hallowee11Or perhaps Natasha is giving him therapy.  “Tell me how you feel about people chasing you with flaming torches and pitch forks.”  Dr. Bob Hartley would be proud.

 

 

Not to be outdone by her big sister, Rosalind (aka Rosie Roosevelt Yang) makes the Scream feel at home with a lively game of hide and seek.  Play therapy?Halloween5

 

 

So, whatever kind of human or inhuman you are, try not to be too quick to call those you don’t understand monsters. Instead,– follow the leads of Rosalind and Natasha – except when it comes to mice.

Happy Halloween!Hallowee14

C.A.T.

 Blog 16

The C.A. T.   Cat Assistant Teacher

One of my cats, Rosalind, has decided that I work too hard, so, she has elected to join me in returning to the classroom.DSCN2181  She will be my C(at) A(ssistant) T(eacher).  See, she’s already to head out the door.

I think she initially intended this as a surprise, as you can see from her surreptitious insertion of herself into my book bag.DSCN2178

She may also figure that this is a clever way to check up on people who may be cheating during quizzes. DSCN2179She’s good at catching mice and moles, so cheaters are probably in her repertoire as well.

Whatever the case, she will probably be grading some papers for me.  So, if you decide to complain about your grade, remember that she has not been declawed – and her fangs are pretty darn sharp.  have a nice day.DSCN2180

 

 

 

 

Beijing Arboretum

One of my favorite places on our trip to China in November ’14 was the Beijing DSCN1267Arboretum next to Xiang Shan (Fragrant Hill, 香山).  We arrived there after a long, traffic-packed drive from the city and got a second dose of autumn colors.

There were plenty of paths to hike amongst the trees and plenty of critters and birds about, including the ever-present magpies and azure winged magpies.  There were also many Great Tits (like our Chickadees) and sparrows – is there ANY place that isn’t over-run with sparrows?  Unfortunately, they were all too quick to allow any Dscn1270picture taking.  However, here’s a picture of Yang, who as just as charming to behold as any of our feathered friends.

The trails wended through wonderful pine and willow forests and up slopes of jagged rocks, at times past pavilions and monuments to students who had camped out and trained here to prepare to fight the Japanese during WWII. Dscn1277 Yang and I weren’t quite so tough.  Here, I’m giving my knee a rest (gardening injury), well-pleased with the scenery and the hiking. Aren’t the seats made from old red wood trees interesting?

There was also some unexpected forms of “wild life” in the park.  We came acrossDscn1273 well-fed dogs and cats, just chilling in the forest, part of the families of people who worked and lived at the park.  Here is a cat with a surprising resemblance to Winston Churchill.  He even miaowed gruffly!  Dig that expression.  Could it be a reincarnation?

A young Chinese girl and I had a laugh over how unique he appeared, and how nonchalant, in a gruff way, he was with humans.  When she said in English to me, “It’s a cat!” I meant to say “Dui” In Chinese, but my default mode slipped and I concurred, “Oui!”  We both had a chuckle.  Dscn1275I actually managed to converse a little with her in Chinese, saying that I liked cats and we had two at home.  That was as far as I could go in Chinese at that point, so we switched to English.  She and her boyfriend were a cute couple, so we took a picture of them with their camera and they took a picture of us with ours!

 

 

Dscn1278 When we came down the hill, we enjoyed the beautiful fall colors around us.

 

 

 

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Surprisingly, though there was lots of traffic coming out here, most people were visiting the nearby Xiang Shan parks.

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This little guy is called a Little Grebe (if you click on the picture, you can see him much better).

 

 

 

Here’s one more neat shot of the wonderful fall colors.  I understand that when there hasn’t been a drought, the colors are really gorgeous.

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Finally, I have to insert a picture of a creature we saw which really knocked Yang and I for a loop.  Like dopes, we didn’t take the camera out until he had scampered away.  So, this creature climbed out of the tangle of a twisted pine.  At first, I thought I was seeing a big black crow.  Then he settled on the ground and sat up.  I was flabbergasted!  It took a moment to figure out we were seeing a squirrel.  He poked around, looking for food, then sat eating for a bit, and finally scampered away by the time I realized we had a camera.  When we got back to the hotel, we checked him out on line.  I knew I’d seen pictures of this critttree squirel1er before, and discovered he was a Eurasian Red Squirrel – except he’s black.  Go figure.  Interestingly enough, I read that the black variety of squirrel thrives in pine forests better than its red brethren.   There’s plenty of pine in this place! tree squirrel4 Also, in China, the name for this type of guy is “Satan’s Squirrel.”  He is rather demonic looking, isn’t he?  Apparently, they are also bred commercially and sold as pets.

Getting home was almost as much of an adventure as the hike, what with overpacked buses – when they finally came.  What the heck!  When you have great company and beautiful weather and everyone’s in the same boat, er, bus, who cares!Dscn1272

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No copyright infringement intended, noncommercial use of photosTree Squirrel Photo 1: http://cutterlight.com/tag/hiking-near-ulaanbaatar/
Tree Squirrel Photo 2  Squirrel, Photo © Tim Edelsten on http://www.birdskorea.org/Birds/Birdnews/BK-BN-birdnews-2009-02.shtml