Picture
Fall in New England is generally short, but this year the show has gone on and on. Maybe it was the tropical weather pushed forward by a few hurricanes. Or maybe, the weather gods just went on vacation and forgot to flick the switch. Whatever, thanks!

Color up here starts out slow in mid- to late-August and picks up steam in September. One week, you’re swimming in the lake; the next, night temps hover slightly over freezing. That water cools down nicely.

Peak color was in late September in southern Vermont, but it is just now peaking in parts of western Massachusetts. Last week, we had our first few nights of hard frost in VT, ending the color show for good and warning of what’s ahead. One night, we got more than frost on the pumpkin (or truck). 

Massachusetts is enjoying a brief reprieve, but it’ll catch up to Vermont real soon.

Picture

 
 
Picture
September 1 has come and gone, marking the unofficial end of summer. It could go on, but somebody flicked the switch! Night temperatures have dipped down into low 40s, cooling off water and land, if not the inhabitants.

Blessed rain came just in time, but nothing dampens the spirit of those determined to wring out everything they can from what’s left of the warm days of the year.

Now is a good time to catch an afternoon on the road or on the water. Take the kids to a downtown street fair, a ballgame or out for a hot dog at the drive-in that soon will shut down for winter.

Fruit growers have started bringing in their crops and cleaning them up for town and county fairs that go on, rain or shine.

Here are some shots taken in southern Vermont, western Massachusetts, Boston, Washington DC, Lake George and Long Island, NY.

 

 
 
Picture
Adams Reservoir, Woodford, VT
Water holds a mystical power over me, more today than when I was younger. I swim, I kayak, I soak in a hot tub, I take showers whenever my joints cry to be soothed or my soul needs an energizing boost.    
Picture

In Vermont, ponds and even pools are cool, almost cold, even on the hottest days. Once you’re in and moving, the crisp temperature is all you could ever ask for, but don’t go in one toe at a time.


I have access to outdoor swimming pools and a dozen ponds or reservoirs in two states, so I carry gear in the back seat of the car that lets me swim on a whim. Rubber-soled “lake shoes” keep my feet safe from rocks and muck. If the sun is high, I wear full-length rashers to block UV from my ultra-sensitive skin and wacky immune system. Kids gawk at the sight of an old lady in surfer garb, but I just smile and, on the way out of the water, I comment on how the waves suck at this beach.

Sometimes I don’t even swim, but  just go out up to my neck, letting let currents pull me from side to side. If I need to build up strength in my severely arthritic lower body, I cross country ski in the deep stuff, or bicycle back and forth across the pool. Then I do side stroke and back stroke, both very meditative forms of swimming.  

Picture
Green River, Halifax VT, Spring 2010
A doomed Piscean, I’d rather be IN water than not, but if I’m on land, chances are I’m looking at one body of blue stuff or another. Our walls are filled with artwork I’ve collected over the years, most of it involving something aqueous. After all, I spent some years living and working on Long Island, New York, where I wrote a book about life on that (very crowded) Atlantic sandbar. 

My husband loves boats, so we’re drawn to coasts and marinas when we travel. Up here in the mountains, we can always find streams or lakes to play in or photograph, any time of the year, frozen or liquid.  

Picture
Lake George NY, August 2009
Picture
Monterey Bay CA, May 2010
Here are some photos and video I took in and around the Monterey Bay Aquarium this spring.

Picture
Pacifica CA, May 2010
Picture
Tuna at MBA, May 2010
Picture
Leafy Sea Dragon at MBA
Picture
Moon Jellyfish at MBA
Picture
Black Sea Nettles at MBA, May 2010
For mesmerizing video of jellyfish and sea nettles, go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's own video at
http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/efc/efc_se/se_jellies_mv_blue.html

If you want to swim with the fishes without getting wet, go to the MBA kelp forest exhibit and sway with the water plants and animals to hypnotic music. Try not to go when it’s busy, like we did. Too many people making too much noise, but click on the arrow and enjoy the show anyway. See the shark?
For more in this series, click on Swimming as Meditation in the index on the right.
Also, see Cari Shane Parvin's Zen of Swim at http://www.usmsswimmer.com/200511/zenofswim.pdf 

 
 
Picture
Sunflower field in southern Vermont, August 8, 2010

 
 
Picture
Can any place be greener than Vermont in early summer? Maybe Ireland. Maybe not.

Here's a peek at what we see from the deck and windows.
Today, after a hot spell, we got up to a steamy 73 degrees at 3 p.m. A crisp Canadian high moved in and pushed all the muggy air out. The weekend should be stellar, perfect for the Fourth of July.

I stopped off at a farm stand yesterday afternoon. They had lettuce, beets, radishes, strawberries, blueberries and CORN! Everyone is talking about it. No one remembers ever seeing corn in time for the Fourth of July in New England. But this was not a typical year. We had an early thaw followed by persistent rain, with just enough sun to get things started. Now, we’re reaping the benefits. Who says there’s no global warming?

Below are a few seasonal sites in and around southern Vermont/western Massachusetts. Photos were taken yesterday evening and this afternoon. If you look carefully, you'll see a pileated woodpecker making salad-bowl sized holes in a tree.

The bears are out and about, but we haven't seen any yet. Lots of other people have. One friend stepped out on her front porch to shoo away a bear from her bird feeder. He responded with a deep growl, and she high-tailed it back indoors.

 
 
Picture
We just got back from our annual trip to sunny (but cold and windy) California, where we visit relatives and friends in the East Bay-Sacramento area.

As you’ll see, this year's vacation included a wedding, a few birthday parties, scenic drives along the Pacific, walks through Monterey and Sacramento, plus a morning at the Monterey Aquarium. It was fabulous!

I’m always struck by the beauty of California plant life, as well as the intensity of light along the coast and in high desert. When you live in the rainy northeast woods the rest of the year, West Coast light is very big thing.  

Here are some photos, for your enjoyment. If you have two minutes, slather on some sunblock then click on the video for a virtual vacation. You’ll hear waves, birds and children. What could be better?

Cheers,

Paula


 
 
Here’s a little show and tell. Below are photos of my husband and myself, our siblings,  plus my brother-in-law's significant other and my brother's wife. We’re a pretty typical American family, at least in terms of our own generation.

But, we're the old generation, destined for extinction. Fortunately, we have 11 grown kids among us, which means we have a pretty good toehold on the future. 
 
Skip ahead to our children’s children and two of their cousins. Some of these darlings have parents from Mexico, Germany or from Philippine or African-American ancestry. Soon, there will be more grandchildren. And, there is the possibility for even more cultural diversity when the last few kids finally marry and start families.

If you want to see what the US population will look like in the near future, just look at our next generation  -- a rainbow of colors, languages and traditions, all within one ordinary US family.

Are they beautiful or what? This is tomorrow, folks, taking the best from us and our ancestors, and putting it forward. 

Yes, the face of the US is changing, but that’s not a bad thing. Nations evolve just like living organisms. Life goes round and round. Don’t fight it,! Just sit back, click on the video below, and enjoy.

 
 
Picture
Spring crept in a little early this year in New England, then took a return flight back to wherever it comes from, letting the cold air drift back in over us.

By March 20, the first official day of spring, the snow had cleared enough for us to pick out a spot to plant a lilac bush. By last week, the lilacs were available in nurseries, so we bought two different varieties and one low-bush blueberry (for the bears). 

By May 1, all the white stuff had melted, even pretty far north of us. On Mother’s Day, however, we awoke to fresh coating and icy windshields. Imagine! 


All that being said, here are a few things I noticed over the last few weeks that tell me spring is here to stay:
The sugaring season came and went, as it always does.
At least a few salamanders made it across roads to vernal pools for mating season. I saw them (cross the road).
Morris Dancers danced on May 1.
Young people stripped down to the essentials for a picnic on the first warm day. 

Water rushed over the falls, as the snows melted up north. 
Bulbs burst forth with colorful blooms. 

Teenagers took out their guitars for a folk concert. 
The earth greened up all around us.  
There were kids in church! And kids played with kids in church!  

 
 
The hilltowns are still covered in snow and in the valleys dirty piles of old snow remind us it’s  March, not May. But in Smith College’s conservatory and orangerie, the bees hum while you soak in the smell of hyacinth and gardenia. Glorious spring has arrived!

 
 
Picture
Dear Friends,

We had it all this year at Christmastime – holiday music, get togethers with friends (at their homes!), a lovely tree, a grandchild to play with, snow, family and more snow. Hope you were equally fortunate.

Happy New Year to all!

Cheers,

Paula