Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Day Spring Broke

Gloom will soon turn to glow, according to the weather forecasting set.

We'll finally be clear of cloud, wind and rain...

Not that I minded it. A good weather event is good for the soul, if not good for the neighborhood.

Long stretches of rain have a way of slowing things down a bit, and seem to allow more time to pause and reflect on things usually lost in the every day shuffle.

Combined with a day off from work, stir in a trip to majestic Quabbin, and you have ponderer's paradise.

But sun and warmth have their qualities too; qualities we intend to take full advantage of this coming weekend.

We now have increased baby mobility: with both a jogging stroller donated from sis...

...and a new baby seat mounted to Kelly's bike. We took a couple of test runs during those brief, 60+ degree teaser days we had recently...

...and made a long awaited resurgence back into the easy breezy world of rail trail cruising.

Scenic as always...

...and healthy as always.

Also sorely missed and welcomed in return was taking a break in the nearest, teaming city.

Theyr'e saying temps will be in the eighties this coming weekend. Brush off the cobwebs...

...let's hit it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Marching In March

We were ready to get out just in time to race back up to Holyoke on Sunday so Kelly and the bloggerette could get their first views of the 'big one': the annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade.

We had to park about a half mile down the road from the parade route and huffed it to the Yankee Pedlar intersection on route 5, where we squeezed ourselves into a small opening we found between the shoulder to shoulder spectators lining the route.

We were just in time as the parade came marching around the corner, horns a-blasting.

The Colleen was in a fantastically colorful float...

And this kid helped churn out the strains of some ancient Celtic ditty.

The music is an acquired taste to be sure.

Classic but more familiar were the tunes coming from the horns of the Hot Tomales, which got some of the spectators grooving.

I'd only managed to get to this parade once before, many years ago, and had forgotten just what a huge event it was. There were so many people that it was impossible to contain them all on the sidewalk, and they overflowed onto the breakdown lanes; milling about and crossing back and forth between the parade groups at will.

Cinderella had her delicate and opulent ride out, delighting the bloggerette who strained to take it all in from her shouldered perch above the fray.

The Sabis Charter School Bull Dogs had sent in their talented crowd-encouragers.

Not that much encouragement was needed. Everyone was in high spirits, and some spectators higher than that. A few unlucky officers strayed too close to this particularly spirited group of revelers, to find public respect and decorum severely tested.

The police (most likely friends of theirs) were finally released and new targets were obtained by the rowdy crew.

The revelers couldn't be blamed; no one was immune from the green tide sweeping through the streets of this ol' Irish town.

A green tide of a different sort had taken hold of this young lady's sense of fashion; who sported a trully eco-friendly design.

The wave of the future? You saw it here first, folks...

Back to the music:

Health care workers brought metaphorical umbrellas...

And the Mummers from Philly provided a professional explosion of color and dazzle.

Their troupe had passed way too soon.

And what's a parade without remembrance? These vets recall battles of the past...

...closely followed by representatives of our present day battles.

And the people who we send to Boston to make choices for us came by: a former republican congressman, or at least as republican as can be attained here in the Deep Blue...

The hero of the North End...

And the man who shocked this Blue State with a dose of Brown.

(sorry Steve Buoniconti, the memory card read full just as you passed by. Respect but unfortunately no pic this time...)

A new card was in the camera just as The Haired One, Ray Hershel shot a wave my way.

I remember seeing Ray on tv back when... well, as long as I can remember watching tv. I'm talking about way back when. Back when there were only three stations to watch, four if you could get the antenna just right. In color if your folks had the money. There's something constant and comforting about seeing that he's still around...

These guys rivaled the Mummers in color, music and pizazz...

The parade was indeed big. We had been there for well over two hours, and still they were marching by and coming down the street as far as could be seen.

But we were out of time, and unfortunately had to make tracks back home.

We'll try and get another look next year...maybe bring some chairs...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Green Within The Green

In what's becoming something of a tradition here at 'in the valley' headquarters, we made a run to Holyoke to get our third look at the annual 10k Holyoke St. Patty's Road Race. It's always a big turnout for the race, in the thousands; and I'm always fascinated to see so many people together at one time, especially united in the same task. Our first viewing three years ago tallied in at over 3000 participants, the next year was over 4000, and true to form, this year's would be over 5000 runners.

We forewent our usual South St./Route 5 viewing intersection and tried to get a little closer to the starting line, but that turned out to be a destination for the earlier birds, because it was major traffic lock up by the time we got there. With only a few minutes before the start of the race, we ended up backtracking a little and staking out a viewing spot in a raised parking lot just outside of downtown. We were set up just as the long wail of the starting horn could be heard in the distance, and just a couple minutes later the lead elements came trotting by, thickening by the minute.

Being nearer to the start, the main mass of runners were still relatively bunched together and soon caming pouring in, thick as gravy. Mostly green gravy.

Within minutes it was the sea of humanity we had come to observe.

One thing we noticed this year were several war veteran tributes, sprinkled in among the mass.

They recieved an extra volley of applause from the side line crowds. Some appeared to be veterans themselves or otherwise in the service, marching in uniform with their rucksacks; while others appeared to speak for their family members or friends.

...some kept their war messages in keeping with the day's events...

With race three in the bag, we continued on north for a Saturday afternoon of biking on the rail trails (a blog post on that coming up) with Sunday seeing our return to Holyoke, for a look at their big parade (ditto on that)...