Monday, February 28, 2011

Praising the bridge...

"Praise the bridge that carried you over." ~George Colman
When my friend Darlene saw my blog about barns on facebook, she commented, “Maybe you could do a group of covered bridges.  Please!”  Well…I happen to think that probably 93.72% of all people who will stop to look at an old barn most likely will go out of their way to see a covered bridge.  At least, I am in that percentage.

Greg and I have seen what is purported to be the World’s Longest Covered Bridge in Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada.  The Hartland Covered Bridge reaches 1,282 feet over the St. John River and was officially opened in 1901.  It’s an impressive sight, to be sure.  There are more than 60 covered bridges still standing in New Brunswick.  Most are operational.

We have traveled down State Route 26 in southeastern Ohio, a scenic route known for the covered bridges (and Mail Pouch barns, by the way).  I've read that Ohio has 2,000 covered bridges.  We sure have a lot left to see.  But we will go out of our way to see one if we notice one in a guide book or see a road sign pointing one out.

We like to drive through them if it is feasible, but when it’s not, we will often get out of the car and walk through taking in the old wood, the graffiti and the wonderful man-made workmanship.  I admire the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the people who built these structures and feel much appreciation for the people who work
to keep these wonderful bridges intact.

Maybe I could do a group of covered bridge photos, indeed!  Here you go, Darlene…

The Knowlton Bridge along SR 26 in southeast Ohio.  One of the two longest covered bridges in Ohio.
The Sanborn Covered Bridge, Lyndon, Vermont.

Inside the Sanborn Bridge.

The Gilbertville Covered Bridge (aka the Ware-Hardwick Covered Bridge), built in 1886 and restored and reopened in October of 2010.   My personal favorite.

Inside the Gilbertville Covered Bridge

Covered bridge in Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts

The Hartland Covered Bridge, New Brunswick (during restoration in 2008) 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The barn was a witness...

The other day when the sun was shining, Greg and I took Olive our dog for a ride.  Sometimes, you know, dogs just need to go for a ride.  We are fortunate that we live in a place where just about any road you want to take takes you to someplace beautiful.  This time our ride took us a little bit northeast of our house and into the country. 
I always take my camera when we go for these rides.  It just wouldn’t be right not to.  I seem to gravitate to old barns as we travel along.  I love the way an old barn looks and often wonder how long it has set in place.  I love the distinguished decrepitude of the ones that seem to be standing against all odds.  And I love the utilitarian beauty of the ones that are carefully cared for. Old barns make me reflect on the way many of us used to live in this country so many years ago…life closer to the land where we used what was available to us. Barns make me think.

For sixty years the pine lumber barn
had held cows, horses, hay, harness, tools, junk
amid the prairie winds... 
and the corn crops came and went, plows and wagon
and hands milked, hands husked and harnessed
and held the leather reins of horse teams
in dust and dog days, in late fall sleet 'til the work was done that fall.
And the barn was a witness, stood and saw it all.
~From The People, Yes by Carl Sandburg

Monday, February 21, 2011

Withstanding the Assault of Sustained Thinking...

Voltaire said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”

Voltaire obviously wasn’t thinking of digital photography…or any type of photography… when he said that.  Because when you are taking a long time trying to figure out your best aperture and shutter speed on a camera, the eagle has most likely flown away, the magic hour is probably over or your kid has stopped being cute and has gone off to play video games.  That’s why it is so easy to fall back on automatic settings on a digital camera and to turn the thought process off.

But knowing the basics is a really good thing, so I have started attending a Basic Digital Photography class to get back to those basics.  Heck, I used to know about aperture openings and shutter speeds back in the day when I had my old Olympus OM10 but as the years have passed and my cameras have gotten more and more sophisticated and automatic, my mind has not been exercised and my memory has failed.  Most of that information has gone the way of my high school French… dans la couche d'ozone.  Bits and pieces have stuck but much of it is gone.

This past week, I have had my camera set on manual and I have not fallen back on the automatic setting.  Whether or not I will continue in this primitive world, I can’t say.  I do know that if I do, many sins can be forgiven through digital processing.  But I think I will post some of the shots I took on manual this week.  No, they are not SOOC (straight out of camera).  I did have to mess with them a little bit.  I can’t quite help that.  After all, even when we shot with film, the photos needed to be processed…

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Importance of Whale Poop…

It’s kind of a tradition in this family whenever we get anywhere near the ocean. One of us has to start spouting quotes from America’s great ballad, “A Horse with No Name.”  The ocean is indeed a “desert with its life underground and the perfect disguise above.”  For some reason, every time any of us Hales look at the spectacle of the sea, this particular phrase falls into our brains like rainwater.

I grew up in the Midwest and don’t have the same draw to the ocean that many of my New England friends do, but I will never turn down an opportunity to stare at it. I was thinking about the ocean the other day while I was poking around on the internet.  I came across an article about ocean ecology and the importance of whale poop as an essential component to sea life.*  Whale poop, it seems, can actually help “temper the damage humans have done to the environment…”  Just one more good reason to save the whales!

Well, it all made me think about the trips I have taken to the ocean with my family so here are some of the pics I took along the way.

My sincere apology if you have “A Horse with No Name"
stuck in your head for the rest of the day.  You have to admit, it is much more pleasant than having “It’s a Small World After All” stuck there.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Color Speaks....

“I found I could say things with color and shapes
that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.” 
~Georgia O’Keefe

Yes, folks, Florida was great for the time we were there.  With temps in the 70s and no rain, I had no complaints.  One of my favorite things about being down there this winter was that it is colorful.  Color is one thing I miss in the wintertime.

We do have nice, sunny days in the winter here in New England and it can be very beautiful, but out of doors it’s hard to find any red, orange or yellow or even green that isn’t part of a pine tree.  What we have here are lots of browns, blues, greys and whites.  It made me happy to get a little color onto my retina and into my camera while in Florida.

We spent our time in the Keys, which I like very much.  Life is funky, colorful and cool in the Florida Keys.  Taking a cue from Georgia O’Keefe, I’m going to just shut my mouth and let the colors speak for themselves.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Returning home...

“Most of American life consists of driving somewhere and then returning home, wondering why the hell you went.” ~ John Updike

I think I know why we went to Florida this past week.  I have to admit that it was nice to get away.  While we were gone, we had the two plus feet of snow on our roof scraped so that when we returned, the snow around the house was twice as deep as when we left and had turned as hard as concrete and impossible to shovel or snow blow.  That would be no problem if we could get in or out of most of our doors but they are fairly inaccessible.  It is fortunate that we have a porch so we have access to our house through the garage and down the porch.  Otherwise, we would literally be out in the cold.

It seems that this week we are expecting a February thaw.  Sweet!  But all that snow making our house difficult to return to has made our trip a bit sweeter.  Here are a few photos that I’ve managed to work on from Florida:

It's just an empty building....

On the Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon, Florida

Perky Bat Tower, Sugerloaf Key, Florida