New England Flood of May 2006

Ten years ago it started raining on Mother’s Day and continued raining for days. Many communities in this area, especially Peabody and areas along the Merrimack River, experienced serious flooding.

Here in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, it wasn’t too bad, but as you can see from these photographs, Patton Park experienced some flooding. The small pond seemed to grow until it took over most of the park, in some places extending right to the sidewalk.

Gone But Not Forgotten: Sweetheart Cottage

Asbury Grove in the Snow

I first fell in love with this little red cottage in Asbury Grove in 2008. It looked so cheerful and tidy, with the fancy white woodwork and the heart-shaped decorative elements. It looked like something out of an old cartoon, like a honeymoon cottage for Mickey and Minnie Mouse, or Popeye and Olive Oyl. It was empty and for sale, and I hoped someone would buy it soon, because it looked sad sitting empty.

I took a picture that day and I drove by several times over the next few years, always wondering if it was still empty. Of course I had crazy thoughts of buying it myself and using it as a guest room, but real estate in Asbury Grove is complicated. It’s a religious community and you buy the cottage but are leasing the land from the community, and I don’t think I would pass the admissions process. Also, if I had the money to buy something like this, I would probably be better off using it to expand my present home.

Over the years, the For Sale sign stayed up but the phone number faded, and there were some minor signs of damage. The wooden heart gable decoration apparently fell off, but I could see it inside in the front window. One day I saw a Private Property sign, which made me wonder if someone had seen me there and wanted me to stop taking pictures. I felt like maybe it was time to stop anyway — I felt like I was cottage-stalking. So I stopped going by.

I happened to be driving by the Grove today and decided to take a quick look. I knew the roof of the place across the street had collapsed under the weight of snow during the winter, and was curious to see what was left of it. I found a big pile of rubble, but the real surprise was that my little red cottage was also gone, leaving almost no trace, just a little clearing in the woods. From what I can see online, a tree fell on it and it had to be taken down.

I’m sorry it’s gone, but I am glad I have my photographs.

Past and present in Beverly Gas & Tire mural

I’m a great admirer of artist Philip Coleman’s murals around the area, and I especially like the one he did on the side of the Beverly Gas & Tire building at near the intersection of Cabot and Rantoul Streets in Beverly. The subject matter appeals to me — I like diners, old cars and factory buildings. I also like the fact that it’s at a location by the railroad tracks that’s best described as utilitarian, quite a way up Cabot Street from the galleries and coffee shops near Montserrat College of Art, the Beverly Public Library and Beverly Common. The wall of the tire business, bordering a Rite-Aid parking lot, didn’t strike me as a great place for a mural, but the artist certainly knew exactly what would work here. Rather than ignoring the parking lot and just paint on the top half of the wall, he created a mural that works perfectly with the parked cars, incorporating them right into the picture.

Pasrt and present: Beverly Gas & Tires mural

Pasrt and present: Beverly Gas & Tires mural

Escape from Appleton Farms

Escaped from Appleton Farms

Some excitement on Route 1A in Ipswich this morning! I was at the entrance to Appleton Farms when I saw a Police car across the highway with the lights on, and the officer outside trying to guide an escaped cow back over to the farm. The cow kept running in and out of the road, coming right to the entrance of the farm at one point but then running back out to the road, heading for the Hamilton line. I hope the cow eventually returned home safe!

Swampscott Railroad Depot

Swampscott Railroad Depot

I’ve admired this building for years, but this is the first time I have photographed it. I decided to be a little more intentional about my photography, and started making a list of places I want to capture, and this was the top of the list for nearby places.

This beautiful 19th century railroad station always looks to me like it belongs on the Island of Sodor with Thomas the Tank Engine — it’s almost too cute to be real! It’s all closed up and no longer in use, but the train still stops here. The train I take to and from Boston stops at this station, and I always find it a thrill to see the old Swampscott sign and all that great gingerbread wood trim out the train window.

Swampscott Railroad Depot
10 Railroad Avenue
Swampscott, Massachusetts

Built in the 1860s in the Stick Style by Boston Housewright George W. Cram
National Register of Historic Places #98001106

Appleton Farms

Appleton Farms

“Rolling grasslands, grazing livestock, stone walls, and historic farm buildings are part of this pastoral landscape – a rare glimpse into New England’s agricultural past. A gift of Colonel Francis R. Appleton, Jr., and his wife Joan, Appleton Farms is one of the oldest continuously operating farms in the country, established and maintained by nine generations of the Appleton family.” — Source: Trustees of Reservations

Appleton Farms
219 County Road
(Route 1A)
Ipswich, Massachusetts

Window into Summer

Window into Summer

In the summer, Philip Coleman’s Calle Casa mural blends so well into the Casa de Moda building and surroundings that the black posts were added to keep people from trying to drive down this street and crashing into the building. In the winter, seeing the man in his summer shorts and tee and people enjoying the fine weather at sidewalk tables is like a window into summer. Walking past this today, bundled up in the cold, it brought a smile to my face as I thought of summers past and summers yet to come!

Calle Casa — Summer photo of the mural showing how it fits in with the rest of the Casa de Moda building.

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