Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Football Predictions

Bongi's, Duxbury MA

Thanksgiving is here, and that means Football. Oh, there's also that Pilgrim stuff with the Wampanoags and the giving-thanks stuff, but the day is all about turkey dinners and football to anyone I'd care to hang around with.

Keep in mind, I hang around with some fairly shadowy individuals. It's all good. Whatever their flaws may be (and they are many), there will be turkey on the table and football on the TV. A lot of people only wish they were doing that well.

We won't be doing point spreads and over/unders for the high school games this year, for two reasons. One, I think it may be illegal. Two, the guy I know who knew the point spreads for high school games got murdered. Just another day in the office at Cranberry County Magazine: Sports Desk!

What we can do for you the reader is give you a good idea how the day is going to break down. With knowledge as finely-tuned as ours, point spreads and over/unders become redundant. The scores I tell you are pretty much what the IRL scores will be. OK, sometimes I get carried away with Duxbury.

We're covering what we feel our Cranberry County range is, so deal.

Also, remember that, even if the rain is done, the fields will still be sloppy. That drives down points a bit in a pro game, and it drives down points A LOT in a high school game.

I do think that the Football Gods will end the storm in time for football. "He can surely turn the tide.... he can push the tempest by."

Dennis-Yarmouth at Nauset

DY is 6-4, and has already tuned up 3-7 Nauset by 29 points or o a few weeks ago. Knock off a few points from the DY portion of that score due to the muddy field, and maybe let Nauset score an extra one on the scrubs once the issue is settled.

DY, 28-14

Durfee at New Bedford

Neither team is really lighting it up this year, but New Beige is hosting and that should make the difference. "Durfee" sounds like a particularly dumb Irishman.

New Beffuh, 21-13

North Attleboro at Attleboro

Yes, I spell them without the "orough" at the end, and I fully intend to. I do the same with Middleboro, Southboro, Keep in mind that my home town's name is a bastardized version of "Duck's Burrow."

North, 31-10

Sharon at Oliver Ames

Sharon is 1-9, and-to be honest- there's not really that much need for me to look at how Olly A is doing this season. Let's say that, oh, 17 points is a brutal point spread.

Oliver Ames, 21-3

Franklin at King Phillip

KP is 9-1, and ranked #13 in the state. Franklin, uhm, isn't.

KP, 30-17

Blue Hills at Bristol-Plymouth

If you're going to this game, note that Bristol-Plymouth isn't actually in Plymouth. I think it's in Taunton or something.

B-P, 17-10

Holbrook-Avon at West Bridgewater

I'm trying to word a joke along the lines of the Avon Lady getting married and getting one of those hyphenated last names,like Hillary Rodham-Clinton or Tully Banta-Cain. If I resort to telling you this, it also means that I'm failing.

WB, 14-13

Old Rochester at Apponequet

Guess where Apponequet is? Go ahead, try. I used to know all of this stuff off the top of my head when I covered HS football on a weekly basis, but those days belong to the past. For example, there is actually a New Rochester school, but I also forget what that one is. It may be a Catholic school or something. I think Apponequet is in Lakeville, by the way.

Appo, 34-12

Seekonk at Dighton-Rehoboth

If you live over that way, you are probably well aware of the difference between Dighton kids and Rehoboth kids. One of them is probably wealthy, the other isn't... or maybe one school has black kids, who knows? What I do know is that these differences, which mean everything to D-R kids, mean nothing at all to me,

D-R, 27-19

Hull at Cohasset

If there was a town named Huaven somewhere, Hull should play them on Thanksgiving, even if they are in the Berkshires. Similarly, it would be funny if a rich town like Cohasset or Duxbury pooled their resources and hired a pro coach to run the varisty. Maybe they could give them a seized coastal property to semi-retire in. I'd pay my share just to get John Gruden both at Duxbury High and off Monday Night Football.

Cohasset, 38-14

East Bridgewater vs Rockland

I was never that into crack cocaine, but if I were, I'd try to get it in Rockland.

EB, 20-17

Abington at Whitman-Hanson

Before they took the name "Whitman," that area of Massachusetts was known as "Little Comfort." Also amaze your friends by letting them know that Whitman is where the chocolate chip cookie was invented, while Hanson is where Ocean Spray was founded.

Abington, 24-14

Falmouth at Barnstable

Barney has been a powerhouse in recent years, but this is a good time for Falmouth to steal one on them.

Falmouth, 21-20

Bourne at Wareham

Someone's walking out of this with 10 losses.

Bourne, 9-6

Marshfield at Duxbury

Duxbury, a South Shore powerhouse, is a home 'dog at the new stadium. Marsh Vegas is #3 in the state.

Duxbury, 19-17

Bridgewater-Raynham at Brockton

Massasoit, the guest of honor from the first Thanksgiving, has a junior college in Brockton named for him.

Brockton, 21-14

Cape Cod Tech at Upper Cape Tech

UCT won a Super Bowl recently, and while those days are gone, they still have the moxie to handle CCT.

UCT, 19-12

Middleboro at Carver

Sorry about the not-using-Borough thing, but "Middleboro" shouldn't even be mistaken for rhyming with "cough," Middy is #20 in the state, BTW.

Middleboro, 34-10

Case at Somerset-Berkley

Somerset-Berkley is #16 in the state. Case is #1 in "most likely to lose big to a hyphenated school."

SB, 41-21

Coyle & Cassidy at Taunton

Coyle & Cassidy sounds like one of those 1970s singer/songwriter yawner duos. I won't bet hard cash on someone or something about which something like that can be said.

Taunton, 37-6

Fairhaven at Dartmouth

One half of the team here at CCM is from Fairhaven, which would generally lean towards me selecting Fairhaven. However, Dartmouth is 9-2, ranked 7th in the state, and Jessica never really reads the Sports stuff anyhow.

Dartmouth, 34-12

Greater New Bedford at Diman

Who Diman? You Diman! I hope it's pronounced like that....

GNB, 22-10

Hanover at Norwell

I was very, very disappointed to be in the Hanover Mall a few weeks ago for the first time in like forever, only to find out that they got rid of the fountain. I can recall jumping into it after a quarter when I was like 5 years old, ended our mall trip and everything. I repressed whatever punishment I got for it, I'm good like that.

Norwell, 20-14

Scituate at Hingham

Hingham should, even before today's game, hire some pudgy-yet-agile Korean guy to perform "Hingham Style" at every game for the next forever years. I'd bet that Psy would even authorize use of the horsey dance to such a man. At the very least, the cheerleaders should have a routine for that.

Scituate, 17-10

Pembroke at Silver Lake

I used to date a Silver Lake girl, and she was as mean as a snake. I'd always tell stories about her temper to my current GF, until the former one had almost legendary status. Then, the two girls met... and Miss Silver Lake is nice, friendly, charming.... however, I'd still expect one of them to turn up dead if we shared a neighborhood.

Pembroke, 12-10

Sandwich at Mashpee

Thee are too many 4 loss teams in the top 20 for 8-2 Mashpee to not be there.

Mashpee, 21-7

Plymouth South at Plymouth North

We say it every year, and we'll say it this year, and even end with it..... the Thanksgiving game between the Plymouths should be a nationally televised event, as should be Plymouth's parade. If the right people were running Plymouth, this would already be happening.

South, 16-20

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cranberry Harvest 2014

Mann Farms, Buzzards Bay

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and- let's be honest here- if your table doesn't have cranberry sauce on it, your table is both lacking and losing.

People love their cranberry sauce, and it adds a bit of red to the holiday spread. It even supports the local economy, so you can dine in good conscience.

If the other grandmother in the family ends up hosting every year, it could very well be because your grammy isn't coming correct with the sauce. Your grammy really should know better. She can get a smack for that.

Opening up a can of Ocean Spray will do, although anyone living in eastern Massachusetts has access to fresh cranberries and really should be making their own sauce. That access may or may not be dependent on your willingness to sneak onto someone's bog on a cold November night with a bucket. We'll get to that in a future article.

The Cranberry is one of North America's native fruits that are really huge commercially, along with the Blueberry and the Concord (named for Concord, Massachusetts, the scored-a-win side of Lexington/Concord fame) Grape.

It was originally named Crane-berry because it looked like a crane to some people. They were also called Bearberries because bears in New England would gorge on them. In parts of the Canada, it's called a Mossberry. The English back in Old England call them Fenberries (fen = marsh), of all things.

They were first utilized by Algonquin peoples, who got food, medicine and dye out of the local berry. They were most likely introduced by the Wampanoag people to starving Pilgrims in 1621. Pemmican made with cranberry was a popular trading item that would bring handy English stuff to the Wampanoag people, so the berry was very much involved in facilitating trade (and, therefore, contact) between Native and English cultures.

The cranberry was pretty handy for the English, as well. They were growing wild anywhere in New England that had swamp... which, at last count, was everywhere. You could store them for winter eating. You could sell them to sailing ships, as frequent cranberrying prevents Scurvy.

Captain Henry Hall of Dennis, Massachusetts was the first American to grow them commercially. He is also the one who discovered that cranberry vines do better if they have a thin layer of sand over them during the winter. He was shipping them to England soon after, and it was not many moons at all before the Cranberry was a worldwide sensation.

We'll work some more cranberry facts into the article later on, but we have to talk Turkey first. Cranberries, while welcome at Christmas and Easter, are a Thanksgiving staple.

I'd rank the importance of items on the Thanksgiving table as:

1) Turkey
2) Gravy
3) Sweet or Mashed Potato
4) Stuffing
5) Tie between Pumpkin Pie and Cranberry Sauce, with me favoring Cranberry Sauce while having enough respect for the Pie People not to make it #6.

The cranberry almost immediately became a holiday staple once it was introduced commercially, both in America and Europe. Abe Lincoln probably had cranberries at Thanksgiving, just like you do.

Abe Lincoln didn't have a fridge or a microwave, so he never was able to nuke up the leftovers for a Thanksgiving Sandwich, but you know he would have if he had the technology available to him. If he did, you could bet your Mount Rushmore that Abe would be spreading cranberry sauce on it.

Not a lot of people know how cranberries are grown, harvested, processed and prepared, so we're here to even things out a bit. There is a wonderful 200 acre cranberry bog just outside the Cranberry County Magazine offices.

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and we are already getting morning frosts. It's time to harvest the cranberries!

The good people at Mann Farms in Buzzards Bay were nice enough to let us stroll the grounds and climb around on their trucks with the camera. We go there a lot, so they're kind of used to us by now. We had the run of the place.

Buzzards Bay is pretty much as far South as someone can go in Massachusetts, so I'd imagine that this is about as late as you can harvest cranberries in Massachusetts. You might get some later harvests out on the Cape, or down in, say, Dartmouth, but it's just about Closing Time for local cranberry harvesting.

What you're seeing there is Wet Harvesting, where the bogs are flooded to shake the berries loose. They are then gathered up and loaded into the truck for the drive to Ocean Spray.

The other sort of harvest is the Dry Harvest, where the bogs are not flooded and everything is done by hand. It is very labor-intensive and cost-ineffective. This only accounts for 5-10% of the cranberries harvested, but it is almost 100% of any berries you see sold before processing or/and freezing. Most of your juice and sauce is taken in via the wet harvest.

I'm not sure if Mann Farms does any Dry Harvesting. That was one of the questions I forgot to ask, joining "What do the little blue/yellow/orange/red flags mean?" and "Instead of sand, can you make a thin layer of sugar over them and eliminate a step in the Sea Breeze process?"

Mann Farms also has organic bogs, where no chemicals or fertilizer are used, but they were way out in the back, and we had stuff to do.

Don't worry, that's supposed to be there!

To save time and labor, cranberry farms have a few of these machines around. They thresh, or whatever you call "beating the berries off of the vine."

You kind of have to drive them carefully between the vines, so you don't beat them up too badly. It was designed for that, and I believe it is still called a "Mathewson."

It looks like someone got carried away with modifying the riding mower and that is essentially what you're looking at, but the Mann Farms people have been using that one since I moved into the neighborhood, and they seem quite fond of it.

It has a sister one you can see being operated in some of the other shots, like this one down below.

No, the guys working the bog don't stand there very much and talk to each other with Sarah Palin accents like they do in the Ocean Spray commercials. The Mann Farms people were pretty busy whenever we were over there shooting.

The cranberry harvest guys also tend towards the Irish, with a heavy mix of Portuguese thrown in. This is another aspect missing from the Ocean Spray commercials, which- to be fair- I'm pretty sure are set in a Wisconsin bog.

I say that because Wisconsin- which is a much larger physical state than Massachusetts- is the number one producer of cranberries in America. Massachusetts, representing hard, is ranked second.

People In The Know tell me that Massachusetts cranberries are like wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy better than Wisconsin cranberries. If you want your Thanksgiving to be at all authentic and Pilgrimesque, you aren't trying to see no Wisconsin cranberries. No offense, but I mean, come on now...

Once the lawnmower man and the guy with the big rake get the berries rounded up and brought to shore, they have this big machine that sort of works like the Vampire Squid blood funnel that Matt Taibbi described Goldman-Sachs as. It sucks all of the berries from the water, and sends them off to the Man.

They harvest enough berries that Mann's fleet of trucks (OK, 2 or 3) are moving constantly for a few weeks at this time of year. They would hardly notice if a couple of journalists who are giving them a ton of free publicity went in one night and liberated a gallon or five of Doze Berries.

They'll sell them to Ocean Spray (or Dole, or whoever else buys truckloads of cranberries) for whatever the going rate is. Prices can vary wildly, and any Cranberry historian will come across numerous boom and bust eras in the biz.

Massachusetts farmers did a lot better before large tracts of Wisconsin were devoted to cranberry farming, but that's all water under the bog now. There's no need to hold a grudge, although I do anyhow.

Cool Cranberry Facts!

- That picture above is what a cranberry bog looks like when the berries are ripe but they haven't flooded it yet.

- White Cranberry Juice is made from berries that haven't fully ripened yet. Cranberries will start white, then turn cherry red and then dark red as they ripen.

- Cranberry juice dates back to 1683, and was probably made much, much earlier.

- The first Thanksgiving in Plimoth didn't have cranberry sauce. They couldn't afford the 1:1 berry-to-sugar ratio needed to make palatable cranberry sauce. They may have eaten some cranberries, but not as sauce.

- The Algonquin word for cranberries (and therefore the official name, because they discovered them and named them first) is Sassamanash or something very close to that.

- The prominent Cranberry drink is the world famous Cape Codder, which is vodka and cranberry juice.

- The Cape Codder first turns up in an Ocean Spray cookbook in 1945, named "The Red Devil." It became known as the Cape Codder nationally by the 1960s.

- The cranberry is also prominent in a Sea Breeze, a Bay Breeze, a Madras, a Cosmopolitan, a Red Snapper, and a Sex On The Beach. You can't ask much more from a berry than that, folks.

- If you are planning on drinking enough to vomit, why not finish up with a half dozen Cape Codders? When it finally comes to Hurling Time, you can pretend to be the elevator in The Shining.

- The singer in Christmas Wrapping finally meets the guy because she forgot cranberry sauce and had to go to the A&P. After that, I presume she gets wrecked on the regular.

- In the novel version and maybe the movie version of American Psycho, Patrick Bateman explains away blood stains on his sheets as being from alternately cranberry juice, Cranapple, or Bosco.

- In 1868, a 100 pound barrel of cranberries sold for fifty cents.

- 1953 saw the first million barrel cranberry crop, although a "cranberry scare" nearly wiped out the industry in 1959.

- The 1958-9 Cranberry Scare involved a small shipment of cranberries being contaminated by a cancer-causing weed killer. It got national when a government man recommended avoiding cranberries.

- Between the 1960s (following the scare) and the 1980s, many variations of cranberry products began to appear on the marketplace. This is where we got Cran-Grape and so forth, so it must be viewed as a positive era.

- 1997 saw a dramatic oversupply of cranberries, and a wild drop in prices that wiped out many a bog. If you see a bog reverting back to wild in your town, this (or 1959) was probably what happened to it. Prices have stabilized since, and the industry is relatively profitable.

- Cranberry Sauce is heavily involved in one of the great Rock legends of all time, the "Paul Is Dead" myth surrounding The Beatles.

At the end of Strawberry Fields Forever, John Lennon says something that very much sounds like "I buried Paul."

This went down while Paul McCartney was the subject of a death rumor. The basics of the rumor was that the cute Beatle had been killed in an accident, had been replaced by a double so as to keep the band together, and that John Lennon was issuing confession/hints on various Beatles projects. The barefoot Paul on the Abbey Road cover is part of it, as is "Turn Me On, Dead Man."

The chief clue was "I buried Paul," spoken by John Lennon in SFF.

According to John Lennon, he is actually saying "cranberry sauce." The Brits got a lot of cranberry sauce during the Marshall Plan, and Lennon either loved it, hated it, or just got the words stuck in his mind. He would put nonsense in other songs on the Magical Mystery Tour album, so it's not as odd as it sounds.

Ironically, Paul just has to outlive Ringo to be the last surviving Beatle.

- Contrary to popular belief, cranberry juice doesn't stop urinary tact infections.

- English sailors coming ashore in Virginia were met by Natives bearing gifts of fresh cranberries.

- The "bearberries" name is from Roger Williams.

- New Englanders sent King Charles ten barrels of cranberries to assuage his anger after he caught them issuing their own currency. Charles was later beheaded, so *uck him.

- Thomas Jefferson liked cranberries enough to use up a favor with James Madison to get some shipped to him in France.

Cranberries, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy46 kcal (190 kJ)
12.2 g
Sugars4.04 g
Dietary fiber4.6 g
0.13 g
0.39 g
Vitamin A equiv.
3 μg
36 μg
91 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.012 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.02 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.101 mg
0.295 mg
Vitamin B6
0.057 mg
Folate (B9)
1 μg
Vitamin C
13.3 mg
Vitamin E
1.2 mg
Vitamin K
5.1 μg
Trace metals
8 mg
0.25 mg
6 mg
0.36 mg
13 mg
85 mg
2 mg
0.1 mg
Other constituents
Water87.13 g

- Ocean Spray was formed in Hanson, Massachusetts during the 1930s. Part of the team was A.D. Makepeace, who has bogs all over the South Shore and South Coast (I think AD owns a large share of Wareham), has been in operation since the 19th Century, and is the largest cranberry grower on the planet.

- The team of Edward Gelsthorpe and Sylvia Schur invented Cranapple in 1963. Folks called him "Cranapple Ed."

- Ocean Spray has a 440,000 sq foot plant in friggin' Wisconsin. Ironically, Cranberry County Magazine is based out of an office in a 440 sq foot cottage, in Massachusetts.

- Mann Farms isn't a Makepeace industry, they're just a little independent guy. We thank them for letting us stroll the premises.

Happy (early) Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Betting During The Bye Week

Ahhhhhhh, November...a lovely time of year on Cape Cod.
If you go to the Cape, locals will tell you that just after Columbus Day is the best time to visit. The roads are clear, the restaurants are happy to see you, we get our fall foliage late, and the stores are having sales so the owners can snowbird off to Florida.
The New Yorkers are also gone. That's not a dig on the Rotten Apple, just a reminder that Boston and NY don't play together very well, and a good place to see that illustrated is on any Cape Cod road. One of the few non-war things Boston and NY agree upon is that we are also happy that the Connecticut people are gone.
Note that the "Cape Cod is better in late October" theory isn't based around laying on a beach or seeing girls in thongs. That's actually best done Before Labor Day.
Once November rolls around, however, things start to get Pretty Vacant down here on the sandy spit. Late October through mid April is Storm Season where this Beast is from, and that pretty much rules the roost. There really isn't that much else to do here, other than wager heavily on football.
I used to even bet the high school games, although that generally goes poorly for me in a karma way. My girlfriend wasn't thrilled with me betting on high school games. When my last newspaper column was terminated, the reason for the termination was (something I said in) a high school betting article. The last time a priest yelled at me, it was when I was loudly betting $500 in the bleachers on a field goal attempt at the 2008 Duxbury/Marshfield game on Thanksgiving.
Some things, as they say, are best left to the professionals. With that in mind, let's go through this week's NFL schedule and see what looks wageriffic.

11/9 1:00 ET Dallas -7 Jacksonville
At London 45.5
This game may have already happened, I get confused with English games. I generally don't bet any game that doesn't happen on American soil, although I run more action than I would care to admit through Liberia. Put me in a corner, and I'd take Dallas and the under.
Dallas, 28-16

11/9 1:00 ET At Detroit -2.5 Miami 43.5
There are maybe a thousand Tale Of Two Cities tangents to be made here, but we'll stick to football unless I think of something funny. Detroit is getting Megatron back, and that should be enough to beat the Fish by at least a FG. That will knock Miami back to a pair of games off our tail.
Detroit, 27-17

11/9 1:00 ET Kansas City -1.5 At Buffalo 42
As nice as the recent Pats resurgence has been, it's a bit scary to think that we are one little bump in the road from Buffalo tying us for first place....assuming that they win the game while we're on the bye week, which is this one. Unfortunately, they are Buffalo for a reason.
KC, 17-14

11/9 1:00 ET At New Orleans -5 San Francisco 49
Until Provincetown gets a team, this is sort of the de facto Gay City Super Bowl. Always bet the over in those situations.
49ers, 28-27

11/9 1:00 ET At Baltimore -10 Tennessee 44
I think Tennessee has been bad since we beat them in the playoffs back when Jeff Fisher's beard froze, have drafted only one impact player since, and that guy is now coming off the bench in New York. You really have to EARN those double digit point spreads, especially if you aren't exactly playing the 86 Bears or anything.
Baltimore, 21-10

11/9 1:00 ET Pittsburgh -4 At NY Jets 47
Disclaimer: Raised Catholic. If Big Ben throws 6 TDs again, he'll have a 6-6-6 line over the last three weeks, will become the Anti-Christ, and part of me is wondering if any of his victims is maybe carrying around or- God forbid- nurturing a Demon Seed. If TMZ is still into sports, they should have someone tracking those women.
Pittsburgh, 34-14

11/9 1:00 ET Atlanta -2.5 At Tampa Bay 46.5
The only hillbilly joke I know is too evil to say here, but it ends: "I didn't say i was gon' take you to Florida, I said I was gon' Tampa with you."
Atlanta, 27-10

11/9 4:05 ET Denver -11 At Oakland 50
Boy, would I hate to be the team that plays Denver after that soul-stomping they took in the nor'easter last week.
Denver, 54-14

11/9 4:25 ET At Arizona -6.5 St. Louis 43
I bet that someone in Sam Bradford's group of friends has a quiet bet made as to whether Sam is injured simply watching this game.
Arizona, 10-7

11/9 4:25 ET At Seattle -9 NY Giants 44.5
The Giants are the only NY team that I don't actively hate, and watching them fall apart is almost-but-not-quite payback enough for those Super Bowls. I may require an LT-style legbreaking sack of the Manning whelp, and even then I might only be happy if Chandler Jones does it.
Seattle, 30-10

11/9 8:30 ET At Green Bay -7 Chicago 53.5
It's sad that the State Farm guys raided both Saturday Night Live and Cheers, and the funniest person in any of their commercials is the anonymous girl who is like, "Oh, you're a dancer?" when Aaron complains that someone is stealing his Discount Double Check touchdown dance in their very first commercial of the series.
Green Bay, 35-21

11/10 8:30 ET At Philadelphia -6.5 Carolina 48
Ahhhh.... if there's one thing that can get me through a bye week, it's the prospect of Dirty Sanchize starting a Monday Night Football game against a good defense that has had a week to prepare for him. I could start doing Dabs now, never stop until kickoff, and would still not be high enough to excuse how hard I'll be laughing if he gets the ball hiked off his face, or if he runs into the goalpost like Alan Alda in Paper Lion.
Carolina, 18-17

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Nor'easter Update, And The First Snow of The Season Is Falling

It's not a terrible storm, but it definitely gets one's attention.

November comes in like a lion, as a rough nor'easter is whaling on eastern Massachuetts. There are numerous power outages, localized flooding, and tree branches down everywhere.

Our big problem is the wind. We're getting 40-65 mph gusts. My power keeps blowing out in Buzzards Bay. I'm not alone, as there are thousands without power across Cranberry County.

The worst of it is on the Upper Cape, where the majority of the outages are happening. The epicenter seems to be a Bourne-to-Barnstable swath. See for yourself with the NSTAR Outage Map.

There was also a tree across Route 6 East between exits 5 and 6, but I assume that someone has cleared it out by now.

Thanks to Eric Murphy for the camera work up in Brant Rock. That's local landmark Arthur and Pat's, up to their knees in the Atlantic.

We still have several Warnings out from the National Weather Service, including a Gale Warning, a High Wind Warning, and an about-to-expire Coastal Flood Warning. The coastal flooding should be done by 10 AM or so, so worry only if your beach faces north.

We also have a Special Weather Statement to the effect of eastern Massachusetts being due for 1-2" of snow in the early afternoon hours. This is more for Plymouth and Bristol Counties than Barnstable or Dukes Counties.

Remember, the first snow of the year is a sort of holiday, where none of us are used to driving in snow and we crash and skid a lot. We look sort of like when Georgia gets snow, although by the second snowfall of the season, we're all experts again.

Overall, on the scale we use here, this storm was a straight C. Keep in mind, the Perfect Storm was only an A- on this scale, as an A+ would be something we'd need Noah for. A grade of C is a pretty good storm.

The nastiness is heading to Maine, where I'm already being told that there is a fishing boat missing/sunk.

The weather should stick around long enough to make a muck/mess of the Patriots game this afternoon. Of note is the fact that legendary weather wuss Peyton Manning is in town, and he most likely sighed in despair when he woke up this morning and heard that wind howling.

We'll be back with an update if it is necessary.

UPDATE: Fuck a duck! It's snowing right now!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Southeast Massachusetts Fall Foliage

Gettin' My Peep On...

Southeastern Massachusetts is technically New England, but it is very different from the Vermont-style New England. This is especially true for foliage.

Much like how one doesn't go to Vermont to watch an ocean storm, one also tends to avoid Southeastern New England when planning foliage drives. God planned it that way. It's the Berkshire's revenge for not having beaches.

It's tough to blame someone for this. You would be much better served going to New Hampshire for their peak foliage season than you would be going to Plymouth on Halloween.

No offense to Cranberry County, but we have several factors working against us when it comes to foliage. With the Vermont/ocean storm comparison, it's fairly simple: Vermont doesn't have an ocean. With SE Massachusetts, it's more complex.

For starter's, we have the wrong kind of trees. While it gets worse the closer you get to the coast, the main problem is that our dominant tree is the Pine. Pine trees are cool, but they don't turn red like a Maple tree does.

Part of that problem is the sandy soil, part of it is the higher coastal winds. Pines grow in sandy soil, and pine needles catch less wind (and take down less tree branches) than trees which have broader leaves. Even in optimal conditions, we have difficulty providing a God Shot for a leaf-peeper.

We also have the wrong time of year for peak foliage. Vermont and Maine peak in September. Cape Cod peaks after Halloween. That is a month and change of October weather, which we're just about to get to.

We have the wrong weather for fall foliage. SE Massachusetts has almost no chance of making it to Halloween without a rain/wind event that blows the leaves (and especially the broad, colorful ones) off of the trees. Generally, by Devil's Night, you need to look to the ground if you want to see colorful leaves in Falmouth.

Don't believe me? Look!

However, all is not lost. You can get your peep on in Cranberry County. You just have to know where to look.

You're not going to get any sweeping mountain views. Our lakes tend to be surrounded by pine as well, at least the ones I visited. SE Massachusetts foliage viewing is best done more by marathon driving where you look for little bursts of color.

If foliage were football, New Hampshire would be a dynasty team like the 60s Packers or the 70s Steelers. Massachusetts, she's more like a Pop Warner team that tries really hard and makes a cool play now and then. This is especially true the further east one goes.

We apologize for that, and will try to make up for it with beach days and cranberry bogs. We want you happy when you're here.

We tried a few different Peep Drives. We tend to go Rural when we Peep, although we some some excellent but not-that-nature-looking red trees outside a Shaw's Supermarket. Here are the basic routes we took, always starting from Buzzards Bay:

- Route 195 to Fall River (Fall River isn't really known for their foliage, but we needed some Lizzie Borden House shots for the Halloween article), then Route 81 or something into Tiverton, RI (Cranberry County crosses state lines now and then, when it suits us), then Route 6 back to B-Bay.

- Route 495 to Route 105, which we followed into Halifax, then Route 106 to Kingston, followed by 53 and 3A to the North Hill Nature Reserve in Duxbury, followed by Rte 3A back to Bourne, and Rte 6 back to Buzzards Bay.

- Route 495 to Rte 58 in Hanson, then a sort of Route 27/36/14 mix where we were mostly scoping out numerous Pembroke lakes, then 3 South back to the Cape.

I should add that we are providing a valuable public service. There's a storm coming, and that storm will probably be All She Wrote for foliage in Massachusetts. We didn't have much foliage left after the last storm, and this storm looks to be equal or greater. The season will be over tonight, when the winds pick up.

We'll do a storm article after the storm starts, we're too new to be breaking news to anyone yet. Maybe after we get some followers...

Anyhow, we were out as late as Friday afternoon taking pics, so we got the grand finale for a leaf peeper in this part of the state.

Cranberry County does have some nice scenery. While we lack the sweeping mountain views, we have farms, hills, forests and shorelines where the colors make their stand.

If we were Maple Syrup County Magazine, you'd be much better off today. We aren't, however. We'll make up for it with ocean storm photos tonight, I promise. I'll head out to a north-facing beach at high tide, see what I can do with a phone-cam.

We're not really awesome writers, nor are we awesome photographers. Our chief skill is being centrally located, having free time, and our willingness to drive into the heart of the story. Leaf-peeping is an easy-if-lengthy process, but storm chasing has put me near death more than once.

It's that kind of mindset that eventually leads us to a Black Tree.

Note the high tech camera work visible in the rear view mirror. That tree was actually blacker IRL than it came out in the pic, but that's how the cookie crumbles, kids. The leaves will probably blow off of it tonight.

But enough talk of Storms and Black Trees. We are here to see color, not the absence of light.

Before I forget, the pics, in order from the top, are Duxbury, Hanson , Marion, Middleboro, Monponsett, Carver, and Monponsett one more time.

This pic below is, and I'm working from memory here, Plympton.

We'll be doing a whole article or three on the cranberry harvest, we only have that shot in there because i was playing with photo editing.

Plympton is one of my favorite towns. It has nothing at all to offer aside from peace and quiet. When I was teaching, I gave the kids a Mapquest assignment to find the most isolated house in what we are now calling Cranberry County. Several of the kids, independent of each other, drew their focus onto some farmer in Plympton who was a mile from his neighbors... who, I might add, were pretty isolated themselves.

Plympton has some cool farms, which I'd take my ghetto students to when I wanted them to see cows or corn growing. There are about 10 kids (adults now) from Cambridge and Roxbury who have disproportionate knowledge about an isolated cow town that they most likely will never visit or encounter again. It's probably for the best.

This is a tree from Bournedale, It's in front of a beautiful lake, but you'll never see it because the tree is on a treacherous corner and there is nowhere safe to stand near it... short of inviting ourselves into someone's yard. I shot this out of the window of a moving car.

Sometimes, a journalist has to work from a car. This is especially true when writing Fall Foliage articles. We'd rather give you a wide-ranging tour of the region, rather than one where we walk a lot in a single forest. We tried that in Duxbury, and saw not one color aside from green.

That's even more true for snow pictures, as we'd have to work a lot to cover 100 yards in a blizzard. We'd also kill the camera, which is what we did in that blizzard last year. That's why you see Jessica shooting a phone out the window in the Black Tree shot up above.

Our two upgrades will be a waterproof camera and an old-school Jeep Cherokee for the beach work. That's probably going to have to wait until Christmas, however.

Once we get better gear, we'll go further North for our leaf peeping. However, I love this corner of the state, you just have to work a little harder.

We did go crazy with the cam in Bourne. We're based in Bourne, and we're generally armed with a camera as we move around our daily business.

Bourne, and especially the village of Bournedale, are very good for foliage. We'll finish up there.

- SB