Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Before The Cloudburst

Some pics from a recent kayaking glide down the Swift River; crystal clear as always and splashingly cool in the humid afternoon.

Putting in at the Belchertown boat launch, I didn't go the whole way downstream into Bondsville as is usually the case, but rather stuck around the boat launch area, gliding a little bit upstream this time. Under the low overpass and towards the fly-fishermen area where the river crosses route 9.

The humid afternoon was threatening to give way to thunderstorms, so it was best to stay relatively close to the vehicle, should things get all lightening and hail-ey.

Luckily, there's no need to paddle for miles on this river to get a good dose of nature. There's plenty on the nearest bank and overhanging branch, if you look closely.

And look closely I did.

The dragongflies were all over the place. Sunning themselves between grabs for smaller bugs on the wing, or dive bombing the surface of the water for nymphs and such.

They seemed pretty preoccupied with their endeavours, and didn't seem to notice me too much as I got right up in their grille (as it were) with the camera.

Pretty relaxed in these fattest of days. It's summertime, and the livin's easy.

Higher up the food chain, some humans nearby were busy setting up a swing rope.

While man and beast glided by underneath in both directions.

A slight darkening of the sky, a few last minute bobs....

...and the first drops were being felt. Time to head back, and quick.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Love And Rockets

Proving it's never too late on a hot summer day to get out and do something, we moved out for an ice cream, lo' about 8 o'clock.

Help me, Mr. Cone in Chicopee.

We grabbed a table while Kelly went up for the ice cream. The Bloggerette is old enough now to know exactly what type of product can be found at such an establishment, and watched with bated breath for mommy to return with the goods.

Wait for iiiiit....

Wait for iiiiiit....

Here it comes!

While messily scarfing down some coconut-hot fudge and carmel ice cream, there could be heard in the distance the crackles and pops of backyard fireworks off in the distance, another icon of summer. Then I remembered reading that Chicopee was having a festival of some sort going on this weekend. A Chicopee-ite munching on a cone at a neighboring table alerted us to the fact that the real fireworks were going to be on at about 9:30.

We hurried up with the eating, packed up and scooted across town, soon cramming one more vehicle into an utterly jammed Szot Park parking lot. Then it was a short stumble in the dark towards the brightly lit commotion that was Chicopee's Fest-Of-All.

To say it was crowded would be an understatement.

We toured the expansive set up spread out all around the park, with many many tents and much food and spirits for the so inclined. But time was getting tight. A policeman directed us down to the playing fields, which we found covered wall to wall with folk revved up for the show.

We grabbed a seats just as the lights went down, and the fireworks went up.

It was a darn good display.

From what I've seen over the years, Chicopee's pretty much always delivers.

As the finale died down the lights came up. And the scramble for the exits began.

Most people were heading back to the main festival grounds, where food and drink were still flowing.

We held back, and waited for it to clear out a bit before mixing into the fray.

We had plenty of time. After all, we just got here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sunset People

Having stole up to Arcadia for a freezing cold Winter Solstice celebration last December, the bloggerette and I book-ended the extending daylight of the past six months with a visit to the UMass Sunwheel, for a balmy Summer Solstice gathering.

The gathering was gathered by the the time we got up there; and we made haste to find our spots on the grass amid the circle of stones that make up the Sunwheel.

At the center of the wheel was Astronomist Dr. Judith Young, armed with a globe and Jar Jar Binks action figure, in mid-lecture about the cycles and angles of light dancing between Sun and Earth.

The crowd was mostly laid out on the grass and basked in the glowing, golden twilight of the longest day of the year, rapt with attention to Dr. Judith's teachings...

While behind us, the sun quietly completed it's mission for the day.

The final moments of light had arrived.

An impromptu strain of "You are my Sunshine" broke out as Dr. Judith formed the crowd up into a line. Most everyone took a turn standing in the middle of the wheel to line up their own eyes with the Solstice marker stone and setting sun...

...and really, to take a turn welcoming back the Summer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tastes Of Summer

Summer is on tap for the weekend, starting NOW. We launched up some back roads to cool off just as the evening began to set in. We stopped in Granby for ice coffees and proceeded further, up Amherst way, where their 'Taste Of Amherst' is going on all weekend, on the common.

The weather was perfect for it, and the common was pretty packed with food getterers and music listenerers.

Oh, and many Hula Hooperers.

Kelly found her dish in the Paradise of India; a rice and curry chicken mixture that she raved about, but I found a little too exotic for myself.

My expansive palette craved something more... continental. Like American-continental. Like chicken wings from Amherst's Alpha Pizza, to be specific. The Bloggerette's tastes run somewhere in the middle and she had a bit of both our dishes. Here she is stuffing her face:

A perfectly mild night was settling in by the time we finished eating, and we took one more walkabout before heading back.

It was almost 9:30 now and the band was pumping out fine stick-in-your-head song craft to a receptive crowd relaxing on the grass,

...while the many booths were winding down for the 10 pm closing.

A short visit but a perfect destination for our evening drive. Now, time to head back and turn in early.

A beach visit is in order for the morning...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rain Event

We took advantage of a temporary let-up in the rain Saturday to check out the nearby Granby Charter Days fair, going on all weekend.

We're suckers for these country bumpkin events, and modern as the modern age may be, I still find watching heavy work done via brute strength a fascinating sight.

Beast compared to Machine is usually part of the fare at these fairs, and Granby has their own oxen pulls like many others.

It's a tradition going from way back...

What exactly they compete for I'm not sure, besides ribbons and bragging rights. Maybe it's just the upholding the tradition and passing it on that keeps it going. Maybe a combination of all three.

But one thing is for sure, they bring their best competitors to the fight.

Here's a short motion-view of the proceedings:

We got our fill of that before setting out for other sections of the fair, spread out around the grounds of Dufresne Park. The visitor count was sparse, with only some die-hard fair goers venturing out in the afternoon rain.

But the fair exhibits were all in effect, and what small crowd there was mostly centered on the small petting zoo section, with lots of cute, cuddly and not so cute and cuddly petting specimens were found.

From there, it was 'round the park's freshly fishing derby'd pond...

...and to the main fairway. Where umbrellas were propped up everywhere.

All the usual spinning, tumbling, rocking and bobbing rides were available and waiting, including some old classics...

...but not too many takers this afternoon. Idle ride attendants gazed wistfully into the horizon.

While at the games trailers bored carnies had taken to wrangling amongst themselves.

Hopefully Sunday will bring back better weather and more teaming crowds. The culprit rain was now picking up again and we began heading back, making a quick stop at Ludlow's Lupa Zoo (a loooong overdue blog post, btw) tent. Some interesting critters were there, including a massive scorpion, a healthy sized chameleon, and this guy.

Hedgehogs are pretty cute, and if there's any truth in video gaming, fast as the devil.

The increasingly familiar, joking jargon of B'wana Jim began blaring over the speakers nearby, and rain or not we had to check out one of his hilarious and informative animal shows.

We've run into his exhibits more than once on the fair circuit, and it's always an entertaining sight.

Time to go? Wait, Kelly hears the clicking of a gambling wheel. She needs her fix. For charity, ahem, of course.

Ok, NOW it's time to go...