Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fall Landscapes at Mount Auburn Cemetery

Here in my home town is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the United States. The Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts blends beautiful landscape vistas that take full advantage of a post-glacial terrain of hills (drumlins) and ponds (kettle holes).

The official website summarizes its history: "Founded in 1831, it was the first large-scale designed landscape open to the public in the United States. Today its beauty, historical associations and horticultural collections are internationally renowned."

"Our founders believed that burying and commemorating the dead was best done in a tranquil and beautiful natural setting at a short distance from the city center. They also believed that the Cemetery should be a place for the living, "embellishing" the natural landscape with ornamental plantings, monuments, fences, fountains and chapels. This inspired concept was copied widely throughout the United States, giving birth to the rural cemetery movement and the tradition of garden cemeteries. Their popularity led, in turn, to the establishment of America's public parks."

I took a late fall day off from work and spend part of the mornning strolling around and capturing some of the scenery. Below are some of them, featuring the last fall colors. (See other photos in my post from last year: El Día de los Muertos.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Late Fall Foliage in Boston's Public Garden

The Public Garden never fails me! Four seasons a year, it is always photogenic. I am so lucky, working a couple of blocks from this historic park. Many a lunch time I find an excuse to stroll through its pathways, and take a few photos.

Last week started out cold and rainy and feeling like winter was trying to break into the city and hold us in its chilly grip. But, by the end of the week, the sun returned and temperatures rose. After a morning meeting that ended too late on Friday, I took a spin around the park, capturing the beauty of the late fall foliage.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Byways in the Fall

One of my favorite contexts to view the bright colors of the fall foliage is in the linear context of byways, be they pathways, streets, or highways. Following are a few of the views I captured early during that period when the early hints of color mix with summer greens.

Below: Returning home from New York in early October, just a touch of fall colors tinge the wooded hillsides along Interstate 84 in Connecticut
Below: A mix of fall color lines the pathway in the urban wilds near Belle Isle Marsh in Winthrop.
Below: Early colors in the mature canopy along the pathways of Boston's Public Garden.

Below: Sun streaking through the foliage above a country lane in the midst of urban Cambridge.

Below: A fall view along a path on the campus of Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mills along the River

Many New Hampshire towns grew up along rivers, where mills took full advantage of the available water power. Milford retains a little bit of urban character with its little active business district near the river, including some attractive old mill buildings in restored condition built right on the banks of the river.

We stopped at the Red Arrow Diner in Milford after our climb of Pack Monadnack Mountain. Very good sweet potato fries and nice coconut cream pie.

Below: the nicely restored mill buildings line the river. The Red Arrow is just out of the view to the right.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Urban Evening Concerts

Last weekend I was fortunate to attend open air concerts on two sucessive nights up in Lowell, Massachusetts. Lowell is one of several old mill towns in New England. Fortunately, there has been a lot of reinvestment in the city, resulting in a lot of adaptive reuse of the old mill buildings. Lowell also tries hard to attract visitors to the city with cultural events including the Lowell Folk Festival and the Summer Music Series.

Last Friday, I caught two women singer/songwritters/guitarists. Patty Larkin, a fantastic guitarist and based locally in Mass., opened the show. Suzanne Vega followed, and I just loved her music ... a perfect blend of creativity with a dark edge and a joyousness bordering on just a little crazy at times. And her lead guitarist was great, adding not only lines and textures but all sorts of just the perfect noise and distortion to complement the mood and lyrics of the songs! I'm a bit of composer and guitarist, but how I wish I could write and perform like Suzanne!

On Saturday, it was Herbie Hancock (see photo above right). Not only is he a great pianist, but equally great at composing and arranging. He played a good bit of material from his current CD, The Imagine Project, which was a delicious blend of jazz, fusion and traditional music from all corners of the globe. He and his band played for about 2 1/2 hours, and we could have all enjoyed another couple of hours of it.

So here's a few photos from my two nights listening to music in Lowell.

Below, the stage is ready for Friday night's show.

Below, a tall smokestack rises above one of Lowell's many preserved mill buildings.

Below, sunset, as we all wait for the music to begin.

Below, Patty Larkin playing on Friday night.

Below, Herbie taking an extended piano solo on Saturday night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dawn on the Charles River

Usually, it's at sunset when I find myself riding my bike home from work along the Charles River in Boston. (See these other posts: Sunset on the Charles, Part 1 and Part 2, and the Twisted Willow at Sunset).

But a week ago, during a spurt when my cat decided that breakfast must be served at 4:45 am, I used the time to go out and enjoy the cool, quiet of dawn. I just loved it. Almost no one around, so quiet and peaceful. Especially along the banks of the Charles River here in Cambridge, the temperature was pleasantly cool at this early hour. So, here I am (at right) looking barely awake just before 6 am after sunrise. Below are some of the scenes of the peaceful dawn on Sunday, July 18th.

Below: The newly risen sun, about to be obscured by cloud cover, is reflected in this view downstream right at the famous "head of the Charles."

Below: the sun peaking through the canopy of a sprawling willow.

Below: The view downstream after the clouds had fully obscured the sun.

Below: Looking upstream at the graceful triple arch Eliot Bridge. Charles Eliot was a famous landscape architect who was instrumental in the creation of Boston's Metropolitan Parks System, which included the linear parks lining the banks of the Charles River Basin.

Below: Early morning sunshine reflects off the boathouse next to the Eliot Bridge.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sunset at the Beach

Sunday, July 4th, we spent the evening walking Revere Beach (north of Boston) and stayed to enjoy the sunset. We were treated to the visual effect of an ever shifting palate of colors, both in the sky and clouds over the water (in the east) and over the marsh (to the west). We call this the "pink moment," inspirted by a friend from Ojai, CA, who introduced us to that term.

Above right: A rainbow in the sky points to a couple walking along the ocean's edge.

Below: The clouds above appeared like a giant watercolor, maybe by someone influenced by Monet.

Below: Dramatic steaks of light and shaddow across the cloudy sky to the west.

Below: Two views to the west. I love the dramatic contrast of light and shadow.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Churches of Santa Fe

In the end of May I found myself in Santa Fe, New Mexico, attending a family wedding. Santa Fe has an interesting history that weaves Native American and Spanish cultures into the ethnic stew of the present-day southwest in the US. Perhaps most unexpected was that Santa Fe was settled by Europeans before my hometown of Boston. The City of Santa Fe was founded in 1610 while Boston dates from 1630.

The architecture of the churches particularly caught my eye. Typical of the southwest, the palate of the facades consists of earth tones, reflecting Spanish architecture and local materials. The results are a very appealing simplicity in these sacred spaces. Following are samples of these churches.

Above right: Simple interior of the Santuario Diocesano de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe).

Below: Exterior of the Santuario Diocesano de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

Below: San Miguel Mission Church, recognized as the Oldest Church in the United States San Miguel Mission, dates from the early 1600s.

Below: The St. Francis Cathedral Basilica

Right: The famous spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel. It was constructed in the 1870s. As the taped recording in the chapel tells the story, the chapel was built without a stairs to the choir loft, and this required climbing ladders. This was ok for men, but this chapel was used by nuns. As the referenced web site states, "many carpenters were consulted for a solution, but all of them felt that a traditional stairway would take up too much room." What to do? "The Sisters sought divine guidance, and on the ninth and final day of their Novena, a mysterious carpenter appeared who designed and constructed a circular stairway to the loft. His 'miraculous stairway' contains 33 steps in two full 360-degree turns, with no center support, nor is it held from the sides. Upon completing the stairway, the carpenter disappeared without receiving payment for his work." It still is a mystery to architects and structural engineers as to how it is self-supporting. In recent times, they added braces so it does not collapse with the vibrations on traffic on the street outside.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunset on the Charles, Part 2

A few more views from my bike ride home along the Charles River in Boston. Always seems I'm heading home just around sunset. These views are from June 17, 2010.