I’m happy to announce the start of an exhibition of my work at the Westborough (Massachusetts) Public Library, “Constructing Quabbin.”
Tbe exhibition reflects my latest thinking about the experience of working at the Quabbin and the difficulty of reconciling all of the feelings that one experiences there. The Quabbin is not just a beautiful location. It raises quite issues that are relevant to all of us. I’ve been thinking more about what it takes to make a society work, and in particular the sacrifices that you find whenever you scratch the surface. The Quabbin area we know now represents a marvel of engineering and design, an incredible natural comeback going far beyond what anyone human could accomplish, a wonderful and amazingly cheap source of water, a carbon sink sucking up CO2 and spewing forth oxygen, a home for wildlife, a place for spiritual contemplation and even healing and at the same time a symbol of enormous imposed loss and sacrifice. The individual and collective collided. Some good came of it, and some bad. Too much to deal with it seems but I feel drawn to try. Simply put, the exhibition is about now and then with a focus on observable artifacts and experiences. The observer will have to draw their own conclusions.
Westborough Public Library is located on Route 30, just south of the Westborough rotary. Unfortunately during much of the day the exhibition space is not supervised and as such the librarians may lock the door. If you visit, just go to the main library desk. The folks who work there are extremely nice and they’ll let you in. The Library is closed on Sundays.
On August 28, beginning at 6:30, I’ll be giving a slide show and talk about the images, their history and my experience of photographing at the Quabbin. Refreshments of the non-alcoholic kind will be available, so if you’re interested and in the area, please stop by.
I want to thank the Westborough Public LIbrary and the Art and Frame Emporium, located in Westborough, for their support.
I beg your pardon? Must be some mistake.
No, not really. In fact, during World War II the Reservoir (which was still in the process of filling) was used for a variety of forms of target practice. Gate 52 is actually inside Quabbin Park, just west of the Goodnough Dike. It’s a short walk from the Gate to the Reservoir itself but along the way, you will see platforms for, you guessed it, artillery.
Thankfully, the stewards of the Reservoir have seen fit to leave them be. Perhaps as a reminder. Your next question may then be, “is it wise to pump artillery shells into public drinking water?” Didn’t those things contain all sorts of chemicals? I don’t have enough details to respond to the question. J.R. Greene says the following in his wonderful book, Historic Quabbin Hikes. “The shells were fired into the flooding valley and their effectiveness (and the gunner’s accuracy) were checked. Many guns made at the Springfield Armory were tested here.” Here’s the powder house where ammunition and firing powder were stored. There was a war on, after all and I don’t say that sarcastically. The way we make decisions is influenced by a host of factors. And we’re always making trade offs.
The reality is that we know so much more about the vulnerabilities of the environment now than then. Lead for example was everywhere, particularly in paint. What we didn’t know is how easily children could be poisoned by that lead. Many were and some died. Policy leaders in governments at all levels have made it much more difficult for our children to be exposed to lead in the same way, thankfully, though the danger still exists. In this case, the Reservoir is so vast, that perhaps it could absorb whatever toxins might have been involved. I think the lesson here is that we need to be respectful of what we don’t know. Hubris is not indicated.
This is the end of the trail at Gate 52. Old State Rt. 109 which used to run from Belchertown through Enfield to Ware goes underwater here.
I’m proud to make available a new collection of imagery from the Quabbin in PDF format. This is available for download at no charge. If you are interested in prints, please contact me. Thanks. Update: Iphone and ipad users, I’m sorry what you’re seeing doesn’t look right! please go to this link, where things should look a bit better.
Bad weather actually offers some of the best photographic opportunities. Several weeks ago we were at Hanks’ Meadow in the Quabbin Reservoir Park. It’s a very accessible place, lovely for a picnic. It’s clearly marked if you ride through the park road off Route 9 (Belchertown, Massachusetts, USA) in either direction. Deer and turkeys frequent the place, along with who knows what else. It’s an easy walk down to the Quabbin waters from the Meadow. On this particular day, however, the temperature dropped a good ten degrees in that 100 meter walk. The Quabbin Reservoir has its own weather. Down at the shoreline it was cold and windy, felt like a good old New England nor’easter. (Click the images below for larger views.)
The sky was nice, but it’s interesting to play with the water as you might if photographing ocean waves or rapids in a river. Well these aren’t ocean waves but they are waves nevertheless, so a slow shutter speed made for some interesting results.
Zooming in for a bit of detail:
Detail shots are everywhere of course. In this case, rocks and water were no problem. Other details presented a more difficult challenge. We always like to take note of the small signs of life one encounters everywhere. Along the beach we noted these interesting little yellow wildflowers in great abundance, in spite of the rather rough terrain.
Repeated efforts resulted in one semi-decent close up. Strong wind creates beautiful effects in the water, but really undermines you’re ability to shoot a decent close up of living flowers.
So when all else fails, there are those scenes that reflect the end of life. Every natural site is also an eco-archeological site as well. The history of nature is there if you take notice.
It’s not easy being an urban tree. They don’t live all that along, on average around thirteen years. These trees have lived longer. In winter, you can see how great they are, though some are past their prime. You can also see how fragile they are.