i almost forgot that the cambridge carnival was today, i only realized this last night. it's been 3 year since the last cambridge carnival celebration: 2019 was cancelled due to gang violence, and 2020 was still in the midst of the pandemic. there was an unofficial gathering of caribbean revelers last month in dorchester that i only found out afterwards but i'm not sure i would've gone even if i'd known ahead of time.
it's been nearly 2 years since i attended a parade of any kind. i packed my mountainsmith lumbar pack with my canon dSLR fitted the 55-250mm lens along with the 18-200mm lens in case i needed a wider view. i also brought along my fuji 3D camera and a frozen bottle of water in one of the side pockets. i wore my white polo and a pair of khaki shorts.
the parade didn't start until 12:30pm, i left the house by 11:45am. i did think about taking my motorcycle, but the bike is more maneuverable, and i could park it anywhere, and get out of a crowd easier. i arrived in central square by 12pm, parked on mass ave near h-mart, then walked 15 minutes down to riverside to the start of the parade. given the expected crowd of people, i wore a mask the whole time.
in my mind i had the perfect post-pandemic caribbean festival money shot: a group of costumed dancers performing in their matching facemaks. however the thing i noticed immediately was how few people were on the streets while i was walking. usually there'd be groups of carnival attendees and spectators, but i saw very little of that, which wasn't a good sign. when i arrived at the staging area, there was only a single group of mixed costumed marchers, about 100 or so. as for face masks, most people didn't have them.
to the organizer's credit, the parade began on time. miss massachusetts was sitting on top of the backseat of a small convertible, leading the procession. behind her was denise simmons, cambridge city councilor and former mayor. from her i received several different colored beads, i almost forgot about the necklaces. then came the cambridge mardi gras revelers, which were a handful of adults and mostly children. finally at the end was a single speaker truck with the rest of the parade participants following behind. honestly, it was a little sad, and i looked at my watch, figured i'd be home by 1pm since there wasn't much to see.
i followed the procession, walking ahead of it, stopping occasionally to take photos behind me, until i got where river street meets up with western avenue, outside of the central square church. i stepped on top of an empty bench so i'd get some elevation when the procession passed me by. there was definitely more people in the parade, i estimate close to 250 by that point, but still a farcry from a typical carnival parade.
i walked up to mass ave and found a ledge by the MBTA entrance i could stand on to get some elevation as the procession passed me by once more. after that i didn't follow them. unlike in past years, the parade route would end at university park. i biked back home around 1:30pm. once i got back, i changed into some pants and rode the motorcycle to belmont.
watertown was holding its life-friendly garden tour today. 13 gardens across watertown, the theme being chemical-free gardening. the first one we went to was on marlboro street, actually in belmont. the sign said it was the right place, but there was nobody around, and it looked more like a weed garden more than anything else.
next we went to the grove street community garden, figured we'd at least see some stuff there. once more there was a sign, but the place was empty. it was mostly parking lot, with a section for some gardens. there actually was someone there, a woman named roberta, who had a plot there. she told me this was the last year for the community garden, as the town sold the land to BB&N, who will turn it into a sports stadium for their school.
the problem with having a gardening event this late in the growing season is that there isn't a lot to see. holding it in spring would be better time (actually the garden tour happens twice a year, spring and fall). the community garden was okay but a little sparse, plus also bittersweet as everything will be gone by next year.
i figured third time the charm, so i picked robbins road, which was highlighted as a street with multiple organic front yard gardens. we didn't even bother stopping, yes there were gardens, but nothing approaching what the descriptions advertised.
we were ready to go home, but i said we should visit one last garden, one on grenville road, behind the oakley country club. this garden made it all worthwhile: a sunny front garden followed by a deep shady backyard garden. there was also a large group of people surrounding an elderly couple - the owners of the house. only later did i discover that the woman is actually the organizer of the garden tour. in the front was a japanese snowbell tree and a recently planted catalpa. in the back they recently planted some foxgloves (digitalis) but the most impressive plant was a 30+ year old potted osmanthus AKA sweet olive, tiny flowers in bloom with their unmistakable fragrance. the house itself was also impressive, with a southern facing sunroom that's nearly a greenhouse with the amount of windows and some rooftop solar panels.
we returned home by 4pm, just in time to watch the first football game of the season between the dolphins-patriots in the mac jones era. new england ended up losing, but mac jones was competent and we would've won the game if it weren't for some closely turnovers. elsewhere in the NFL, the saints trounced the packers, 38-3. they even benched aaron rodgers. i know the real reason why he lost his edge: he's too upset about his ex-girlfriend olivia munn carrying john mulaney's
rehab rebound love child. the browns almost beat the chiefs, final score 33-29, cleveland's going to be a team to watch. steelers also beat the bills, 23-16, not a lot of attention has been paid to pittsburgh this season but their victory over buffalo makes them legit contenders.
i made it back home so late yesterday and then went to go pick up my motorcycle, i didn't really have time to survey the backyard. not much as changed as the season winds down. my father has been diligently watering our seeded patches on the lawn and new grasses are already growing. one bit of surprise is despite the grapevines succumbing to diseases yet again, some of the grapes are still managing to reach maturity. i tried a few, some are sweet before turning sweet, while others are just sour, but all have a strong grape flavor. not sure how much pectin there is in concord grapes, but i imagine they'd make a great grape jelly if you can somehow extract the seeds.
my father did some light grilling for dinner: some leftover drumsticks, steaks, swordfish, and some zucchini. after dinner i rode back home.
back at home, when i had some time to look over the carnival photos i took earlier in the day, i realized i made a mistake: i forgot to set an ISO value and just left it in manual. this is a problem when i shoot in aperture priority mode (my default, fixed at f/8). because it's so bright, the ISO gets autoset only to 100-200, but that results in a slower shutter speed. so i ended up with a lot of blurry photos (shutter speed 1/60 to 1/250), despite the bright and sunny day. in hindsight, i should've set the ISO to something like 800, to force a higher shutter speed. chalk that up to being rusty after not having attended any kind of parade celebration in nearly 2 years.