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I remember that evening in the small one room cabin, probably an old sugaring house in another life. A wood stove kept us warm. It was late winter.

Four, maybe six of us, tucked into the “living room”, communing with spirits that rose up in the stories and songs and laughter we shared deep into the night.

We were young, and locked in tight to “being here now”. Who knew the season would pass? Who knew there would be other, different ones, to follow? Who knew back then there was a future?



Abandoned, Norwich, CT

March 11, 2017

Norwich Hospital opened its doors in October 1904 as the “Norwich State Hospital for the Insane”, and remained operational until October 10, 1996. At its height, the patient population, individuals who were deemed “mentally ill”, reached 3184 in 1955. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, with over forty contributing buildings.

Many community based agencies picked up the task of caring for these individuals as treatment philosophies (and medications) shifted over the years. Sometimes, a court order was necessary for the states to begin “deinstitutionalizing” patients, that is, providing the resources to effectively treat mental health issues closer to home.

I was with one such CT agency in the 1990’s (and also did similar work in MA in the 1980’s), that helped some of these Norwich Hospital residents settle back into their home towns. It was oftentimes difficult work, made easier by incredibly talented colleagues, and in the end, richly rewarding.

So here I am, driving by this hospital today, and of course I had my camera, so I visited some of the buildings. Might be worth the effort to continue photographing there, though I’m sure many people have recorded the fallen grandeur of the place. Matthew Christopher for one has some amazing images at his website here, which are also compiled into one of his books here.


Mud Season, Colrain, MA

March 8, 2017

This was a day that hit 60 degrees, and, not coincidently, ushered in the beginning of mud season. Another harbinger of Spring – when the sap starts running – began a few days earlier. That usually happens in mid to late winter when daytime temps move above freezing.


Bookcase, Wilmington, VT

March 6, 2017

Meanwhile, on the other side of the living room: a rustic bookcase with classic editions of English literature. I never actually opened any; the muted colors of the bindings were enough on this day.


The portrait on this living room wall is of the poet F.D. Reeve, who lived here with his wife, the writer Laura C. Stevenson, from 1994 until he passed away in 2013.


By way of comparison (and to illustrate how good smartphone cameras are), this was taken at about the same time as the previous shot, but on a Samsung Galaxy S4, which by no means has a top of the line camera. But the shot holds its own with the previous one, taken with a good Canon camera and a very good Canon lens (except perhaps in making a large print).

I like how this photo gives you more ready access to the buildings, even though I didn’t think I stepped in closer than on the other shot. Could just be that the Samsung has a 31mm lens, which brings you closer than the Canon lens, which was set at 26mm.


The Boyd Place, Wilmington, VT

February 26, 2017

Jeff Cox builds his wonderful 1985 book, Seasonal Celebrations, around the Chinese lunar-solar calendar, which divides the year into twenty four distinct periods. They begin with the Winter Solstice, and are then demarcated by the new or full moon, (or the equinoxes and remaining solstice). The names given to the periods are pure poetry; right now we are probably in The Period of Awakening of Creatures (Ching Che), which in 1986 ran from the full moon on Feb. 24 to the new moon on March 10.

I think of that book now, because it’s where I first found a reference to “the most delicate pastel pinks and blues” in the skies at dawn and dusk in the heart of winter. Skies like I had a couple of days ago when I took this photograph. He writes about it under The Period of the Greater Cold, (Ta Han), beginning on the new moon on January 10 to the full moon on January 26 (1986).

I’ve seen those pastels mostly in early March, maybe because I’m out more at that time of the year, the weather being warmer. As it was on this day, about 55 degrees when I took the picture.

Tomorrow, for comparison, I’ll be posting a smartphone picture of this same scene, taken at the same time of day.


Ward’s Cove, Wilmington, VT

February 24, 2017

Two months out from the Solstice, and nudged along by a couple of sunny days in the 60’s, winter was bound to recede, even with the two feet of new snow recently. And the sap, right on cue, just started running a couple days ago. Can’t help but feel a little giddy, and reassured, watching Spring unfold.