Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Church
the steeple in better days
It's the Christmas season: I always wonder about Sacred Heart Church as I walk past it on my way to the river. In advance of selling it, the owners had the crosses removed from the main steeple and a smaller side steeple. It looks strange without the gold crosses and the general lack of care is starting to show as bits fall off, steps crumble and woody weeds sprout out of cracks in the foundation.
For a long time after the cross removal, I never saw birds perching on the bare steeple and I figured that they were as disturbed as I was about the change (I'm not very religious but the circumstances surrounding the status of this church are sad and aggravating). But now I see that the birds (starlings mostly) have returned to perching on the tiny real estate up there. They've also even begun using the copper wire that grounded the cross during lightning storms. You can't see it in this drawing but the wire sticks out, like a tree branch from the side of the steeple near the top. The birds don't mind but I think as time goes on and the birds continue to sit on it, that it will gradually bend down, lower and lower until it's impossible to perch on.
Different uses are proposed for the building but there are logistical and financial problems. I imagine the birds would have a few things to say about it too.
Happy New Year to you. Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A few December thoughts

I'm as ready as I'll ever be for winter: I just add another layer of clothing or put on more sensible shoes.

Usually, I'm in a hurry to get outside in the morning. It looked okay but I didn't factor in the sneaky breeze that turned the moment from cool to cold. I did bring some gloves: a ratty pair of florescent orange fleece ones picked up at a hardware store. The cuffs are frayed and falling apart and they are spattered with charcoal and ink. I also brought a small bottle of magenta red ink. Maybe this combination would keep me warm?

There was one lone merganser circling the choppy water above the dam. The duck would distract me from the biting wind. Or the biting wind would keep me focused on the task at hand and I'd make a better drawing. Hmmm… all drawing is a series of challenges engaged head-on or cleverly sidestepped (or abject failures). Imagine: the simplest errand always requiring the construction of a map and a simultaneous post-mortem. This is drawing for me. --And I enjoy drawing!

Charles River above the South Natick Dam
When I draw outside, I like to do more than one drawing usually. I need to reassure or redeem myself. So I tried some blue chalk on the next one instead of pink ink. Using the same logic (red gloves, red ink), I should have turned into an icicle but the drawing went surprising well (I think!) and I didn't feel the cold as much.

It's all pretty silly isn't it? People are starving and killing each other. We pollute the planet with little sense of hopefulness that we can make a positive difference. I still haven't fastened the button that's about to fall off my shirt…
And I worry about my fingers getting cold. We're all beggars in this Life. Lord have mercy!

The island and the bridge below the dam

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pleasant Street Bridge

The Pleasant Street Bridge (or Eliot Bridge) is part of the South Natick motif that I visit on a regular basis. This, and other local geometry provide me with enough interesting angles and vantage points to keep my curiosity going. There's an engraved stone on one end of the bridge that commemorates the wise people who donated the land to the town for a park:
"The plaque on the south end of the river states that in 1934, eight acres were donated by descendants of Isabella Pratt Shaw to the town of Natick. The South Natick Dam was built in 1933, and, since the plaque is embedded in the bridge, it is a reasonable assumption to make that the bridge was built in 1934." --source
A bridge of one sort or another has existed here for centuries. Bridges are little noticed until they fail or need maintenance. This one sustains an ever expanding river of morning and evening commuters. When the noise of the cars disturbs me, I try to head out earlier in the day or closer to the roar of the river as it flows over the dam.

One final thought, the river has been somewhat low this Summer and Fall. But in years past, I have seen the river in flood when the water level was almost touching the tops of the arches!

A view from the upstream side: there's a quiet pool away from the main channel. I've seen a fox, raccoon, herons and ducks back in here.

This view is from the downstream side of the bridge. You can just make out some jottings in the central arch: the island and the dam are visible.
A view looking downstream from above the dam. The trees that grow on the island are reflected in the calm water formed by the dam.
The river flowing under the bridge
Rocks in shadow below the bridge
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