I’m honored to have had two images chosen by the Blackstone Heritage Corridor and National Park Service for inclusion in their 2018 Calendar. Both are from the River Bend Farm National Heritage Corridor in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. I’ve mentioned this location before. This portion of the National Heritage Corridor explores the Blackstone Canal, which was constructed in 1827-28 running from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island. The Canal was open for only two decades and was considered a business failure. Inspired by the success of the Erie Canal in New York, the Blackstone Canal was to provide relatively inexpensive and fairly rapid transportation along this developing corridor. It’s history turned out to be torturous as it was initially thought to be a boon for the growing cotton mill industry along the Blackstone River. Soon however, the Mill owners were suing the Canal owners over the use of water from the River. This on the heels of the conflicts between the areas farmers and industrialists over water use.
This section of the Canal has been restored. The tow path runs along the Canal and was used by Ox and Mules to power the boats that navigated the canal. For July:
Both of these images show an unusually wide portion of the Canal which was for the most part extremely narrow. For November:
The work of the National Park Service as well as the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts here in the Blackstone Corridor helps us to try and grapple with the very complex intersections between the natural environment, entrepreneurship, social policy and social justice that took place and still are in play in the Corridor. As I’ve pointed out, the Blackstone River was one of the Rivers that actually provoked the Clean Water Act, signed by that noted environmentalist, Richard Nixon…(hey, he signed it, so good for him). The lessons from the Corridor are lessons that evolve over hundreds of years. It is not easy for us to understand those lessons for that very reason, but by holding the discussion, we can perhaps make progress.
Yesterday, we had the pleasure of attending the second annual Biodiversity Festival hosted by the Corridor, in Lincoln, Rhode Island. It was inspiring to see so many people, including our wonderful daughter Molly, who are engaged in trying to protect our environment. Molly works at the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District. These folks engage in a wide variety of environmental and educational activities with the goal of protecting the drinking water for a large number of Rhode Island citizens. Drinking water….kind of important I think. One lesson is clear: protect that which is essential to our lives.
Congressman Jim McGovern and colleagues did a nice job of nurturing hope and resistance at today’s March for Science held in Elm Park, Worcester, Massachusetts. I have studiously tried to avoid launching into rants on this blog in recent years, largely on doctor’s orders. But, as McGovern said, and I have to paraphrase rather than quote, if you asked me twenty years ago if I would have to help stage a march in favor of science some day, I’d say, ‘what are you, nuts?’ But here we are.It is worth reminding ourselves that the E.P.A. was created during the Nixon Presidency. You remember Nixon, the well loved republican. Oh, wait…. Even that guy, expletive deleted that he was, couldn’t hold a candle to our current expletive deleted. Trump’s efforts to lower the collective IQ and fire up the coal industry have left me feeling a sense of deja vu and I have finally figured out why. He’s building up an industry for which there is little or no market. It reminds me of the golden days of the U.S.S.R., which is probably no coincidence. In that centrally planned economy, they would crank out concrete that wasn’t ever going to be shipped anywhere. No customers. So we mine coal and further screw up an already vulnerable planet while the UK celebrates their first day of using no coal, anywhere, for anything. I would not call the UK a bastion of liberal thought. Perhaps they just know how to do business. But, here we are.
It was encouraging to join the assembly today. The weather was dreadful. There is a far bigger march taking place in Boston. No matter. Sometimes you just need to rant. Sorry doc.
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
Last week I posted a series of images of the water flow at the South Natick Dam, along the Charles in Natick, Massachusetts. Using long exposure techniques I’ve enjoyed studying the way the water flows around its various obstructions. My interest in the water, and enjoyment of being at the water is hardly new or unique of course. The flow of water has been providing sustenance and soothing to humanity for as long as we’ve been here (though it doesn’t seem to help us much in weeks like this one). Focus on water is of course also not unique to humans. I was reminded of this recently while continuing to photograph here.
Of course this fellow does it for a living. Note that these are long exposures. But he’s not moving. Those who photograph wildlife routinely will generally confirm that wild animals never actually stand still. They may be quite, but not still. He’s staring at the water and continued to do so for a good 20 minutes. He then changed positions and continued his focused attention. A young couple nearby struck up a conversation and reminded me that he’s doing that because he has to. We listen to the water because we like it. How did it all start? We’ll see this fellow again soon.
Technical note: These images were shot on film, TMAX 100 and Pan F 50. Both are wonderful films, still available. There is very little grain visible except under a magnifying glass. I sometimes shoot with film just to make me think about things in a more contemplative fashion. I found it most helpful here.