Every year, daffodils become the centerpiece of the gardens at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden as well as the rest of New England,. And this year was no different. According to their website, the peak time of the daffodils is the 3rs week of April until the first week of May. So, I chose the last week of April to visit.
Unfortunately, it was raining during my visit. The rain did let up a bit during my visit. But it did rain during my entire visit. And the rain did make for some pretty photo opportunities with the droplets on the flowers.
Ironically, it wasn’t the daffodils that stood out the most. It was the tulips that really caught my eye.
The decor of the gardens at Tower Hill Help to accentuate the beauty of the flowers.
Unfortunately, I could not stay long due to the rain and the difficulty taking photos while I tried to keep my camera dry. But I did my best to capture the beauty there as best I could. But daffodils will be there again next year and so will i!
Summary: Built in 1810, Old Scituate Light is the 11th lighthouse lit in Massachusetts. The lighthouse is on the registry of historic landmarks in Massachusetts and is reportedly open for tours during certain periods of time during the year (see link above for more info). A rock jetty and rocky beachhead is a popular spot for sunrise watchers and tourists. The lighthouse has a rich history dating back to the early 1800s.
New England has no shortage of lighthouses and breath taking views of seascapes. In fact, due to the plethora of beautiful destinations along the water, some destinations seem to get overlooked. Old Lighthouse in Scituate, MA, is one of these overlooked destinations.
Built in 1810 for $4,000, Old Scituate Light played an important, but little known, role in the War Of 1812. After observing two British barges approaching the Scituate harbor, Abigail and Rebecca Bates, the daughters of the original keeper of the lighthouse (Simeon Bates) hid among a cluster of cedar trees which were once prominent in the area and played their fife and drum in an attempt to ward off the would be attackers. The two girls created such a loud din the barges were said to have retreated fearing an army was preparing for their attack. Their efforts are said to have saved Scituate from being sacked as there was, in reality, no standing army ready for a British attack. The girls went on to become known as the “American Army of Two.”
The 25 foot lighthouse (70 feet above sea level) has a natural/emplaced foundation. The light is a replicated lantern and the keeper does stay in the attached home. A bell, perhaps more for decor than function, stands outside the housekeeper’s residence. The lighthouse keeper is a teacher at nearby Marshfield High School.
There is also a memorial dedicated to the grounding of the Etrusco and the rescue efforts from that accident. On March 16, 1956, the ship came aground at Cedar Point during the St. Patrick’s Day Blizzard (it is New England after all). After the grounding of the freighter, five Scituate residents (all members of Scituate’s Civil Defense Communications Team) sprang into action and, despite blizzard conditions, kept in communication with the Coast Guard, providing key details and information to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard would eventually rescue all 30 men from the grounded ship.
The surrounding grounds of the lighthouse provide for great photo opportunities.
The highlight of the lighthouse and the surrounding area is the beautiful views it offers which are especially spectacular during sunrise and sunset
As I was about to pack up and head to my next destination, I noticed this group of painted rocks with hopeful messages. Many of them seemed to have a special personal meaning. But, I think we call can derive some inspiration from their messages.
Location: corners of Taylor and Hedges Ave, Westfield, MA
Summary: Massachusetts based artists Shannon Chiba and Sarah Kinne honors the heroes of the Coronavirus pandemic with a mural in Westfield, MA that incorporates many of the places and things the area is known for.
Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. The “Heroes Are Everywhere” in Westfield, MA, pays tribute to the different heroes in our midst. And, especially if you’re from the area, you may notice many little tributes to the city.
The mural, which is painted on both sides of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail Tunnel, includes paintings of doctors,
And everyone else lending a helping hand to others during these difficult times regardless of their age or size.
If you look closely, you may see such fixtures of western MA such as a black bear, the Whip City Whip Museum (the prominent brick building in the painting), the Great River bridges, the Westfield River and other staples of life in western MA such as blooming flowers and a birdhouse. The roof of the tunnel shows 4 F-15 jets buzzing by which is a common sight for anyone living near the Westfield based Barnes Air National Guard Base.
The tunnel where the mural is painted, which was painted in 2020 by Massachusetts based artists Shannon Chiba and Sarah Kinne, is part of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail which is a popular spot for cyclists, hikers and joggers.
Hopefully, as time passes on, there will not be a need for murals like this.
Location: Boston Seaport Common, 85 Northern Ave, Boston, MA
Hours: Open to the public 24 hours a day until March 30
Summary: nearly 2,000 pink flamingos have been set up at the Boston Seaport Common until March 30
Flamingos have invaded Boston.
Over 1,900 flamingos (some of them a little tipsy) have been planted at the Boston Seaport as a way to brighten up the area and make people smile. This fly by night installation, which is the work of Massachusetts-based developer WS Development, won’t last long though. The birds are expected to stay at their location at the Seaport Common through Tuesday, March 30. Then, they are migrating to the Street Chestnut Hill (MA) and Market Street Lynfield (MA) from April 1-12.
Contrary to popular opinion, these flamingos are not new to the area. In fact, these flamingos have a long history in MA. Don Featherstone designed the first flamingos for Leominster based Union Products in 1957.
They won’t be here for long! So make sure to flock to the Seaport before they fly away!
New England is known for its stormy weather. But, there was a very different kind of storm at Tower Hill gardens. Yarnstorming, often referred to as “graffiti knitting” or “yarn bombing” is an art form that uses knitted and crocheted yarn as art instead of paint or water colors.
More than 25 works of art and over 2,000 pom poms were draped upon benches, trees, statues and poles around the garden.
I was able to use my 35 mm lens for these photos and I really like the way the colors popped and the crispness of the shots from the lens. It’s technically not a prime lens since it is an 18-35 mm (1.8). But it’s much easier to lug around than a telephoto.
Some of these artistic displays have signs next to the displays. These signs had bar codes you could scan with your cellphone to get more information about the display and the artist who made the display.
Spring was in the air and in the yarn at Tower Hill Botanic Garden’s Yarnstorm event.
Forty artists contributed to the artistic Yarnstorm exhibit at Tower Hill. The designs ranged from the colorful
to the creative
There were also some famous people along the trails.
This display, made in honor of the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, included her answer to “when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?”
Some of my favorite exhibits were along the stairwell near the edge of the gardens.
But it’s hard to choose just one from the colorful garden.
The knitted art isn’t just on the trails outside of the botanic garden. Castor and Pullox were also dressed up for the event.
Just a friendly reminder that if you do go don’t forget to wear your hat and gloves. Because you never know what the weather will be like in New England!
Parking: Metered street parking is available and there are two big parking garages on New Liberty St and Congress St
The Downtown Garage (New Liberty St) costs $1.50 per hour.
The Waterfront Garage (Congress St) costs $.75 per hour on weekdays and $1.50 per hour on weekends
Both garages operate from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM Sunday through Wednesday and from 7:00 AM to 2:00 AM Thursday through Saturday.
Public Transportation: The MBTA’s Commuter Rail has a stop which deposits its passengers right at Washington St. $15 for a round trip ticket from North Station (fares vary depending upon where you leave from and where you are going)
The snow, ice and cold weather didn’t prevent countless revelers from heading to Salem for the annual Salem So Sweet ice sculpture celebration. In fact, it made for the ideal conditions.
For the past 19 years, Salem has been brightening up the winter days with a ice sculpture festival, highlighted by a special illumination show on the day they arrive.
Much like everything this past tear, everything seemed different and not just because of the obvious. The crowds were smaller, there was a less jovial feel to the event and it wasn’t as festive as in the past. While smaller crowds can be a plus for visitors and especially for visitors with a camera, it didn’t feel right. I’d rather wait and even jostle for a photograph and feel a more fun atmosphere. I suppose that is to be expected these days though. The crowds seemed to ebb and then gather sporadically. But it did seem to be a much smaller crowd this year.
The sculptures were delivered around noontime on the 6th. But, the celebration really heats up during the late afternoon and early evening. From 5 pm to 9 pm on Saturday the sculptures were illuminated. They are only lit up for these 4 hours. So it does attract a busy night time crowd. Although, of course, with most bars closed or operating with heavy restrictions, the night crowd was noticeably smaller.
Unfortunately, the ice sculptures are removed on Valentine’s Day, February 14. So you’ll have to wait until next year, when things are expected to be closer to “normal” to see the sculptures in person.
There were also fewer ice sculptures this year than in the past. Last year there were 26 sculptures. This year 17 sculptures adorned the streets of Salem. However, a few of them were either damaged, had melted substantially because of the warmer weather and sunlight during the day or, in one case, completely broken.
But, I did my best to photograph the sculptures that were available.
I have skipped a few that were too damaged or completed destroyed and one I forgot about because it was too far away (# 17 “Bakery”)
1 “Owl And Moon”
This owl, which was located near Witch City Wicks on Essex St probably looked better before it was illuminated since the sun helped to melt it and obscure some of its features. That was a common theme as you will see in some of these photos. It’s a trade off. Either take the photos of the sculptures when they are fresh and haven’t melted and haven’t been mutilated or wait until the are illuminated when they look, in my estimation, much prettier. I may take photos of the sculptures before and after illumination next year to avoid this from happening again.
2 The World
If you attend the ice sculpture festival each year, you may notice some of the same companies or organizations use the same type of sculptures each year like this sculpture also on Essex St. The Journeymasters, a travel agency company, usually has a sculpture of a globe with a star or some other kind of fanciful design around it.
3 “Thanking All Alumni On The Front Lines”
This sculpture, sponsored by Salem State University whose sports teams are named the Vikings, was located on Essex St near the Bewitched statue at Lappin Park. It was dedicated to the front line and first responders who graduated from the university’
4 Kids In Snow
Located in front of Salem Cycle on Washington St, this ice sculpture depicts two children sledding.
This sculpture of a fish was appropriately located next to Turner’s Seafood on Church St
6 Joan Of Arc Sword And Shield
Located outside of Coon’s Card & Gift Shop on Essex, this sculpture was dedicated to Joan of Arc.
This sculpture, located on Front St, had an actual rose near the top of the sculpture. It also accurately depicts how, while the sculpture look even more stunning at night, they can be much more difficult to photograph the darker it gets even with a tripod and careful photoshop editing. It wasn’t even that late either. I think it was close to 6:30 pm when this photo was taken. But it does get dark pretty early in these parts during the winter.
8 Rocking Horse
Nothing anything different or weird about this rocking horse sculpture which was located on Front St? Don’t lose your head trying to think.
Yes, this rocking horse is missing it’s neck and head. Although it was a little warm (by winter in New England standards) and the sun was beating on the sculptures during the day, this sculpture’s head didn’t melt off. It was almost certainly the act of vandalism or damaged during delivery.
11 2021 Picture Frame
Located on Central St, this sculpture was famous for people and sometimes their pets posing in together
12 Gingerbread House
This sculpture, located neat Witch City Mall (formerly Museum Place Mall) on Essex St, looked goof enough to eat.
13 Hello Kitty Phone
Unfortunately, the writing on the wall of the Peabody Essex Museum on Essex St made it a little hard to show all of the features of the cat.
This was the only sculpture that wasn’t illuminated. As you can see the sun had caused it to melt quite a bit.
This sculpture was appropriately located across from the oldest candy company in America (Ye Olde Pepper Company) and in front of the House of The Seven Gables, this sculpture depicts a train with a cargo of candy canes.
There were helpful guides at the event to hep you find the sculptures and distribute maps showing where all the sculptures are located, although most people used the map on their map from the event’s website. Some of the helpers got into the spirit of the event.
Although she didn’t say much, Samantha was also dressed up for the event.
Although they weren’t part of the actual event, there was some other decorations that lit up the event.
This house on Derby St is famous for decorating its property for major holidays and events.
You may notice a little critter walking up the pathway. When I was photographing the decorations I noticed this little animal approaching me. Having seen cats there during previous photo shoots at this location, I thought nothing of it until it got right in front of me. Yeah it’s a skunk. Fortunately there was a fence between us and the skunk didn’t spray. He or she just turned around and walked back the way he or she came from. It was a very close call!
The famous Jerry the dinosaur of Salem.
The city of Salem has also put up year round lighting displays that made the event even more Decorative than usual.
And this business on Derby St got into the Valentine’s Day spirit.
I look forward to photographing this extravaganza next year when things are more “normal.” But hopefully not too normal!
You can view photos from previous Salem’s Too Sweet Events that I have photographed in the past by clicking on the links below:
Summary: An illuminated art installation on Boston’s Seaport District lit up the otherwise bleak winter sky.
Decorative lights during the winter are no big deal, particularly during the holiday season. But one decorative light display stood out. The light display, named “Entres Les Rangs” consisted of hundreds of sticks with reflectors that lit up intermittently.
Entre les rangs, which translates to “between the rows” in English, first debuted in Montreal. It was such a hit, the display was taken over the border all the way to Boston. It has also been displayed in Georgetown, MA and London, England.
Different sequences of blue, pink and purple lights lit up the installation. The reflectors were actually being lit up by bigger lights that you may see in some of the photos which changed the colors of the reflectors.
I was hoping to photograph the display while it was snowing or just after a snow storm. But, uncharacteristically for winter in Boston, there wasn’t much snow in Boston while the display was installed, especially on the days I was available to photograph the installation. This is just one of the things that can go wrong when you’re trying to get that “perfect photo.” But it’s not always possible to control the weather. In fact, it’s pretty darn hard to do this. Another time I went to photograph the display one of the sets of lights wasn’t working. I (and I imagine a small army of visitors) emailed the DCR who was in charge of the upkeep of the display and a few days later it was up and running. Such is the life of a WordPress photographer.
It is unclear if this or any other display will be in the area next winter. But, if they are I will be sure to photograph it. Hopefully it will snow this time!
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Open weekends as well as some holidays such as Labor Day & Columbus Day
There is a vehicle entry fee. However, cyclists and walkers can access the park for free. Also, those with a military ID or handicap placard can enter the park at no cost.
Universally Accessible: Yes
Dog Friendly: Yes
Summary: 4 tree sculptures sculpted by Harold Grinspoon have been donated to Look Park in Florence, MA, a village in Northampton. Grinspoon and his team of artists, who operate out of nearby Agawam, MA, carved the sculptures.
Look Park has always been known for the trees that tower above the visitors who come to cycle, jog or play at the 150 acre park, But, there are a few unique trees there this summer.
If you want to avoid walking far at the park, the trees, which the park politely asks you not climb (wish I had known this beforehand), can all be found within a half mile distance and three of them (Entwined, Windows and The Beauty Of Nature) are clustered near each other. The only sculpture which is located only a little farther away from the first three is “Chroma Quartet.” Or, you can walk the entire loop (about a mile) and see them all while taking in the beauty of Look Park.
Four carved trees, carved and donated by Longmeadow resident and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, are meant to bring some additional beauty to the park which is an especially welcome addition to the park during these times. They will be on display at the park for two years.
The first sculpture titled “The Beauty Of Nature”, which was sculpted in 2014, was made out of a cherry tree that stood behind Grinspoon’s home in Longmeadow, MA. The tree was already dead but remained standing. Grinspoon thought it was too pretty to cut down. So, he repurposed it as a work of art.
The title of the work of art reflects Grinspoon’s belief in the ever changing possibility of nature reinventing itself. The tree, which is part of his private SculptureNow collection, has also been displayed at The Mount in Lenox, MA.
This sculpture can be seen as you enter the park is located just past the main entrance.
The second sculpture, “Windows”, can be found a short distance from “The Beauty Of Nature.”
Created in 2017 as part of Grinspoon’s natural series, “Windows” is composed of one reclaimed branch of a live oak tree. The one long branch was quartered, separated and rearranged. Grinspoon derived the name from the shapes and views you can see by walking around the sculpture and looking through the different frames of the sculpture.
“Chroma Quartet”, which was reclaimed from a live oak tree, can be found along the way to the children’s play area and, fittingly, the music venue. It is named for its lively painted design and structural quality the artist felt evoked music. The sculpture is meant to look as though it is vibrating with the pulses of background sounds.
“Entwined”, which was sculpted in 2017 from a reclaimed live oak branch, can be found by the tennis courts and main parking lot by the main entrance.
The branch that was made into “Entwined” was cut in half lengthwise. The twisted form of the sculpture created the overlapping design.
This sculpture was previously exhibited on the front lawn of the Agawam Corporate Center in Agawam, MA, for two years in a natural finish before Grinspoon decided to paint it before it was installed at Look Park.
Look Park also has a wildlife sanctuary, fields to play in as well as a train that may be in operation soon! So, pack up the kids or dog and take a trip to Look Park and take in these beautiful sculptures!
Location: Salem, Commons, Washington Square, Salem, MA
Universally Accessible: Yes
Dog Friendly: Yes
Summary, 18 placards tell the story of Wizzil, a horrible hag who wants to add some excitement to her life. Without giving away too many spoilers, her parrot suggests she amuse herself by making someone else suffer. Hilarity ensues.
It definitely seems like this whole “socially distancing” thing is working. During my quick, socially distanced visit to Salem, MA, there was hardly a soul in the area. In fact, many people were probably curled up with a book.
Salem Public Library has brought the best of both worlds to the Salem Commons. The Storywalk, which was based on the children’s book Wizzil by William Steig and illustrated by Quentin Blake, was created so that families could enjoy the outdoors while still reading and laughing as a family.
The 18 signs are placed within the socially distanced spaces recommended by the government. They were prepared by the Children’s Room staff at the Salem Public Library.
If you do go, there are some ground rules. First, you must give each visitor a 6 foot zone of space for social distancing purposes. Visitors are also discouraged from touching the signs.
You can read the story below. I have I have posted the photos of the placards in the order of how they were placed at the common. You may have to expand the screen to read the lettering since it is so small. Or, better yet, go to the Commons and read it for yourself!
Below are some photos of Salem Saturday morning. It was very desolate and I was half expecting a zombie or some other undead being to come around one of the corners. I was in Salem after all. It was just me and this very hungry squirrel.
Summary: As part of their Fall festivities, Yankee Candle’s flagship store in South Deerfield, MA, held a celebration of all things fall. A costume contest, ice carving, a haunted house and dancers were just some of the attractions at this event.
Yankee Candle thrilled everyone with a Halloween/Fall event for all ages last month.
Dancers, costumed visitors and even a haunted house were just some of the highlights of this celebration of all things fall!
Yankee Candle decorated the grounds and store in proper fashion.
Meet Leona, a 1,732.5 pound pumpkin grown by Dan and Holly Boyce of Vermont. Leona is the second largest recorded pumpkin grown in Vermont!
Many visitors and workers got into the spirit of the season by dressing up in their very own Halloween costumes! The black and white photo pays homage to George Romero’s classic 1968 black and white movie “Night Of The Living Dead.” The zombies would later dance to “Thriller” as part of the dance performance. There was a costume judging contest as well. But I had to leave before the winners were announced.
The dancers at Kasaks Dance Academy performed during the Pumpkin Ball. The half hour performance included dancing by each age group (starting with the youngest to the oldest).
Crawling out to the dancer floor, the last group of dancers danced to Halloween themed music ending their performance by dancing to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.
There was also face painting and a pumpkin decorating contest.
The fun wasn’t just in the store, though. On the grounds of the shop there were alpacas, horse drawn rides, ice carving and a family friendly haunted house.
Joe Almeida of Sculptures In Ice carved a spooky ice sculpture at the beginning of the event.
But, one of the more popular attractions at the event was the haunted house. All of the proceeds from the haunted house ($5 admission) went to Dakin Humane Society, an animal shelter in Springfield, MA. Inside the haunted house there were pumpkins, spiders, and other Halloween related decorations.
After going through the haunted house, there were masks for visitors to put on for possible photo opportunities. Two of the little visitors were nice enough to pose for me.
Dogs celebrate Halloween too! Scrappy, a year and a half old Chihuahua, was enjoying the unseasonably warm Fall weather.