The U.S. Clean Water Act was inspired in part by the Blackstone River, which runs from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island. It was really the home of the industrial revolution in the U.S. because of the 500 foot drop in the River’s elevation between Worcester and Providence. It was dammed no less than 49 times along the way, to create water wheels and power for the many, many mills that began to populate the region in the early 1800’s. That was a long time ago of course and the mills have largely disappeared, chasing cheaper labor first to the south, and then globally. Meanwhile, the River, which was once known as the hardest working river in the U.S. became known as the most polluted. Keep in mind that the Clean Water Act was signed into law by a Republican President. There were other equally polluted rivers of course, but the Blackstone was up there.
Things can change. Out in the River, “rebranded” the Seekonk River at this location for some reason, just south of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, with the RiverTours Blackstone (highly recommended by the way, hit the link if you’re interested) we could see evidence of the change all around us……fish and lots of them. Hard to see at first because of the sand stirred up by the boat, and the fact that I didn’t have a polarizing lens with me to cut down the glare in the water, but they were there.
Their relative invisibility however, was also defensively useful. They were far from alone. The bird activity was intense and impressive. I’m not a bird photographer, but though I’d share a few examples.
The fish now face the challengers that they have always faced, as it should be (I’d include fishermen and women on that list as well, but not yet. You’re not supposed to eat fish from the River, yet.)
During these extraordinarily difficult times I think it’s very important to keep in mind a few successes. We can make things better, if we care to. The Blackstone River is getting cleaner.
Over this past six months I’ve been exploring a variety of ways of getting imagery out there in product form in a fashion that represents some of my thinking, beyond the single image. The first of these presents a series of images from the east coast of the U.S. on a topic soon to be of importance to everyone, the rising seas.
Click on the link here to download a pdf. You can view the pdf on either a tablet or a computer. Alas, the navigation buttons work only on a computer. However, on a tablet, you can just swipe. These images are also available as a folio with images and colophon, printed on archival matte paper, 8.5″ X 11″, boxed for $60.00. Contact me at email@example.com for more information. Thanks.
Like many, I’ve spent considerable time reacting to the thoughtlessness with which our elected officials in Washington ignore the truth. Most recently, we were told by our Secretary of Energy that carbon dioxide has nothing to do with the warming of the planet, which is fine because he also feels the planet isn’t warming. But of course it is. The growing season is longer, ice out is earlier and far worse things are happening to places like Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay (it is disappearing) and all over the world. Carbon dioxide and methane are the two gases in our atmosphere responsible for the warming of the planet. That is not a particularly controversial scientific statement. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that the assault on reality seems overwhelming. What does it mean to “resist” that assault?
I have always experienced the power of nature as inevitable which explains my interest in erosion among other things. On a recent trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, thanks to the advice of a friend, we drove along Ocean Blvd., Rt 1-A, new Odiorne Point State Park. New Englanders are pretty used to two kinds of coastlines: sandy beaches and granite. This beautiful stretch of highway has both, in the same location. You can see eroding sand, and massive granite formations touching one another. That granite isn’t going anywhere. Sure, granite can be moved, by glaciers. Anybody, other than the Secretary of Energy expect to see one of those in these parts anytime soon? Probably not. It will indeed erode over very very long periods of time, but so slowly, the water doesn’t represent a tremendous threat. It faces into the sea and the wind, regardless.
I remember once hearing Pete Seeger talk about resistance. He was reflecting on all of the painful times and threats he had witnessed over the course of his life. He didn’t seem to be the least bit deterred by the persistent nature of the forces with which he was engaged. He also didn’t seem fearful or likely to succumb to hopelessness. “We shall not be moved.” (based on the Biblical text, Jeremiah 17:8-9.) Perhaps we expect it to be easy.
On display in the Winter Solstice Exhibition at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, Massachusetts, from December 8 through January 1.
Blackstone Canal, Uxbridge, Massachusetts – 2016.
It is very hard if you’re out in nature in New England on a routine basis to not develop a fascination with herons. These wonderfully large and patient birds are actually quite easy to photograph. Working stiffs, they only get annoyed with you if you get so close that you screw with their fishing. Can’t say that I blame them. Their markings and scars give each bird a distinctive purpose. For whatever reason, it has been a great year for heron along the Blackstone River. I thought I share a few environmental and reflective portraits as the season wanes.
Blackstone River Heritage Park, Upton, Massachusetts
Blackstone Valley Bicycle Path, Millbury, Massachusetts
Woonsocket Falls, Woonsocket, Rhode Island
Blackstone Valley Bicycle Path, Millbury, Massachusetts