Archive for the ‘Mattapan’ Category

Up the Creek with Paddles

July 24th, 2010

…and down…

We joined 18 others today in the second Neponset River canoe-arama or as the hosts called it, CANOE the Future Greenway. As in an earlier post, we did the wet parts. Chris Lovett joined a landlubbers version on a Neponset Greenway Walk.

Moreover, I’m now a believer. The bike tour we took with the ever dour Doug Mink earlier didn’t have a lot to show for it. He pointed to where the bike/ped path was supposed to eventually come. I was skeptical. Yet, as I found last week, the DCR sprang a new park off Mattapan Square at the beginning of the completed section of the path. You can picnic, launch your canoe or kayak, sit at river overlooks and laze.

I’ve cycled up and down the Neponset bike paths, on and off-road as well. Nearly all is paved now and has very active pedestrian traffic, with a few cyclists. The section around Pope John Paul II Park has a long loop that is walkers only for some strange reason, but there’s lot of bikable trail.

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canoes Rob McArthur of the DCR starts unloading the canoes. He supplied the boats, paddles and life vests…plus instruction and nature lore.
My wife and I were early, so we got the newly donated the beast, a two-person kayak, simultaneously heavy but still swift enough for the non-raging Neponset. beast
choco The 20 of us paddled a bit upriver to the Baker Chocolate Factory. Originally, we were to head up toward Paul’s Bridge at the lower Hyde Park/Milton line. Despite our wettest-ever spring, water levels prevented that. BNAN guide Shea Ennen had scouted the Neponset before and knew the story. So he used his back up plan and headed us East to Gulliver Creek and more of the story of granite and the building of the Bunker Hill Monument.
Near the factory, the cormorants had seen it all at the little marina in Milton. Even about a dozen colorful boats and nearly twice as many flashing, splashing paddles didn’t rate with them. divers
sean Doing his best Lance Armstrong imitation, Shea was a font of history on the Neponset and its human users, industrial and recreational.
At the Eastern end, Rob and Shea tag teamed to describe the granite blocks that remain from the wharf where the 60-ton slabs were staged for barges. Rob also describe his love for his totally recycled Walden kayak. Rob

We were all set to be disappointed at the duplication of river section from the previous paddle. Most of this batch of river tourists were different. We had hoped to head up toward where we live and explore the Western end as it goes into Hyde Park. However, Shea and Rob made sure we experienced different aspects of the river.

We want more.

Particularistic Places: 2

April 7th, 2009

Here are some more particularistic churches. Few have websites and these may or may not be functional if you visit.

However, these are dynamic and many find new preachers and sometimes new flavors of religion, while still serving a hungry public

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Comments Church Front
Greater Victory Temple
1218 Blue Hill Ave., Mattapan
Lily of the Valley Baptist Church
1248 Blue Hill Ave., Mattapan
Blue Hill Missionary Baptist Church
1258 Blue Hill Ave., Mattapan
Deeper Life Full Gospel
1078 Blue Hill Ave., Mattapan
International Outreach Ministries
4 Hyde Park Ave., JP
Iglesia Reformada Emanuel
3140 Washington St., JP
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church
1082 Blue Hill Ave. Mattapan

Particularistic Places to Pray

April 4th, 2009

The following appeared on Marry in Massachusetts last month. My healing leg his prevented hobbling around and chatting with the clergy or parishioners.

Meanwhile, the least I can do is run some images of other of these churches on Blue Hill Avenue and Washington Street in Boston’s Mattapan and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods. All make strong visual statements, some that they are vibrant and others that the are doing the best possible with what they have. I’ll put up a second post in a day or two with other examples. They won’t have this detail, but the images will appear.

Boston seems to have a higher concentration of particularistic churches than elsewhere. These are houses of worship that are either unique or belong to a small denomination.

Many here are in storefronts and often are imported remnants by immigrants. For example, a settlement from a West Indies island might bring a pastor with their specific religion who preaches in their first language. There will then be enough tithers to support a wee church.

Background Book: A comprehensive study of such churches in the Four Corners area of Roxbury is Omar M. McRoberts’ Streets of Glory: Church and Community in a Black Urban Neighborhood, from the University of Chicago Press. He also judges that these churches end up conflicting with redevelopment and social services efforts.

I walked around Mattapan and Jamaica Plain to return with some shots of the fronts of churches on Blue Hill Avenue and Washington Street below Egleston Square. I have not visited them nor arrived during services to photograph parishioners. That seems intrusive, but I may get over that.

Meanwhile, I’ll post a few shots from time to time.

These churches seek affordable spaces. That can be a storefront or unused building. Some seem parodies of the grand, steepled, wooden structures on town commons in New England. Others are colorful and cheerful on their own.

Today’s may have fallen fallow while I got around to posting it. The Apostolic Church at 1290 Blue Hill Avenue had an active website, but it is parked at the moment. Its registration runs through December 18th though. I’ll keep tabs and try to get by at the service hours listed to satisfy my curiosity.

The site was Yet that did not work for me, while did. Both are inactive now. The registrant for the former was and is Pastor Michael Jolaosho.

Off the latter site, the TAC unedited tenets included:

  • The unity of Godhead and the Trinity of the persons therein.
  • The utter depravity of human nature, the necessity for Redemption, and the
    Eternal Doom of the finally impenitent.
  • The Virgin Birth, Sinless Life, Atoning Death, Triumphant Resurrection,
    Ascension and Abiding Intersection of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Second
    Coming and Millennial Reign on Earth.
  • Justification and Sanctification of the Believer through the finished works
    of Christ.
  • The Baptism of the Holy Ghost for believers, with signs following.
  • The Nine Gifts of the Holy Ghost for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the church, which is the Body of Christ.
  • The Sacraments of Baptism by immersion and of the Lord’s Supper.
  • The divine Inspiration and Authority of the Holy Scriptures.
  • Church Government by Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers,
    Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses.
  • The possibility of falling from Grace.
  • The obligatory nature of Tithe and Offerings.
  • Devine Healing through Obedience to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ and Faith in His Name and merit of His Blood for all sickness, diseases and infirmities.

What, you want more? How about the rules of conduct:

  • Never come to the House of God without praying before coming [Matt 6;6, Eph 6;18]
  • Be in your seat at the commencement of the service, you will be a good example to those who are late and neglectful
  • [Gen 22;3, Psalm 108;2, Proverbs 8;17, Songs of Solomon 7;12]
  • Bring your children with you to the House of God. Relatives and servants also have souls. It is your duty and privilege to take care of them. [Matt 19;14, Exodus 20;10, Acts 10;24, John 1;41-45, Gen 18;19]
  • Make your Pastor your personal friend. His sympathy, support and counsel are needed by you. Constantly pray for him. [1 Thessalonians 2;7, Joel 2;17, Matt 2;7, Rom 15;30, 11 Corinthians 1;11, Eph 6;19, Heb 13;17]
  • Make the church your spiritual home [Acts 2;46-47]
  • When conversing on the hearths, never speak disrespectfully or criticizing of God’s servants or their ministrations in the presence of your children. If you sow the wind, you may expect to reap the whirlwind [Gal 6;7, Proverbs 22;8, Hosea 8;7]
  • Enter reverently; pray feverently, listen attentively; give praise from a grateful heart and worship God in the Beauty of holiness [Ps 118;27-29, Eccl 5;1, Rom 12;11, James 1;19] “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise, be thankful unto Him and bless His name’-Ps 100;4

For UUs, who hesitate to sing “wretch like me” in Amazing Grace (generally substituting “soul like me”), tenet two is a bit much — The utter depravity of human nature, the necessity for Redemption, and the Eternal Doom of the finally impenitent.

While raised as a Christian (Methodist) and with most of my adult life as a UU, I don’t see my past or present religion, I don’t see my religion past or present in the admonitions and exhortations of TAC.

Clearly, that was not my church. However, it is or at least was a place of community and worship for others.

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Tom Sawyer on Wheels

October 15th, 2008

family.jpgWalking Blue Hill Avenue to snap some pix of particularistic churches (I have quite a few and shall post some from there and Washington Street), I have been struck by paint boy.

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The Family Hardware just north of the police station claims to be the finest hardware store in Boston. It may or may not be, but it definitely has the finest artifact.

The promotional statue of a boy painter floods me with images. Don’t think lawn jockey. Even though the lad has an upraised arm and is half adult height, he does not parody stereotypical black facial features or dress in a servant’s costume.


Rather, this fellow is barefoot, but golden. He raises his roller to the task. His expression seems to combine both mindlessness and aspiration. Perhaps those are akin.

He also reminds me of my time on the NYC block of East Third Street, the Hells Angels block. A few doors to the east of the Angels’ building was a butcher shop, with a huge plate glass window. Rumors were that the butcher was the local numbers guy and that’s why the window remained intact. On the other hand, it was a noisy block when they spent an hour blowing out and cranking up their bikes to ride every night. The Stones’ Wild Horses careered off the buildings while they were at it. The big point was that for our tolerance of the noise, we had safety. Punks looking to mug or burgle went elsewhere. No one messed with the Angels block.

Mike, the butcher, was a good Italian-American guy. He was a giant with a tiny, aged dad. Every sunny day, he’d literally and lovingly carry the old man out to the South facing front of his store and place him in a chair in the sun.

I saw that paint boy is on wheels. Apparently the Family folk roll him out every day too. He stand in perpetual readiness to roll it on.

The Other Tom with a Wattle

April 8th, 2008

Yes, wattle (caruncles), but not Menino. This tom is the big guy over at the Boston Nature Center.

He was out, about, strutting and warning with his insistent gobble. Unlike the nasty Brookline feathered foul fowl, this one made his noises, but never charged or nipped or clawed. In fairness to his tom-hood, I’d note that he is a good moocher, spending part of each day at the nature-center building and earning grain from the staff. He doesn’t necessarily see humans as enemies, although he didn’t see see as a food giver.

Strolling tom

I walked the short wooded trails at the Audubon’s sanctuary in Mattapan just across American Legion Highway from JP. He was the wildest thing about and let me know early and often that he was watching.

Click the gobble link (new window or tab) for what this tom sounds like:

Tom turkey gobble

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Fox trail signI found him on sendero del zorro (the fox trail). There is copse of wee trees with stands of bushes. My chum clearly had an Adam-and-Eve moment. By his pacing and sounds, he seemed dismayed at his exposure. None of the trees or bushes offered foliage to hide him. When he stands with neck upright, he would come to my waist. He must have sensed that a few canes of brush didn’t hide him.

There are several trails there, including rabbit and snail. This is a place that is easy enough for small kid, with only the fox trail long enough to make them complain.

The sanctuary is on a marshland abutting Old Brook, a tributary of Stony Brook. I’d love to see a map of how they are connected. I think I’ll look for one.

The parts that flood and become swampy have boardwalks over them.

The center is not that crowded, because it is mildly inconvenient to find. You can drive to it, but don’t. That isn’t very nature friendly. It’s a mile and a half walk from the Forest Hills Station. You can also take the #14 bus that runs from Dudley to Rozzie Square and get off a few hundred yards away at Walk Hill and American Legion.

It’s across Walk Hill from the Mt. Hope Cemetery. It’s quiet and peaceful. You get to pass the huge community vegetable and flower gardens too. There’s a small center building where they answer questions and arranges tours, as well as give classes in birding and such.

Trotting tomBack to the tom, he has a great beard of feathers running off his sternum. He has a number of hens who follow him, but they were not visible today.

He let me know with that gobble that I was on his turf and he paralleled me on the trail. He stopped when I did, withdrew if I walked into the brush toward him, but always kept me in sight.

When I rounded the hard turn, he took his chance to stride with his neck out and much faster than his stroll. He crossed the trail close to me, turned to watch, maybe to make sure I was leaving, and then he flew across Old Brook. On foot, he didn’t look very aerodynamic, but he was over the brook in a second or two.

I realized then that is probably where the hens are nestling. He likely had wanted to make sure I didn’t head over there. Clever these turkeys.

Even when you don’t run into this great feathered fellow, it’s a fun visit. There are places to stop and sit and picnic. The summer and fall have great displays of wild flowers. The frogs and creepy crawlies are out starting in the spring.

There are city parks and country parks, city turkeys and country turkeys. This is Mattapan in the country.

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Boston Bees…Crikey!

September 16th, 2007

Bees in Mattapan SquareMy potential Steve Irwin moment never happened. The incessant drizzle and low 60s air kept all but a few brave girl bees in the Mattapan hives today. As part of the Boston Natural Areas Network Fall Harvest Festival & Perennial Divide, I had been promised a chance to wear the goofy hat and netting, with instructions on handling the bees and frames with honey. Crikey!

Instead, I know quite a bit more about urban beekeeping. My tutor was Mike Graney, who lives just a few blocks from me at the very bottom of Jamaica Plain. He keeps a local hive of what he calls his pets, little furry pets. His heavy-duty honey factory is down at the bottom of Mattapan on the Neponset River.

Apiarist Mike GraneyActually, there was another beekeeper there, but I didn’t meet Judy Lierberman until I was on the way out. She just started and keeps her bees at the Brookwood Community Farm in the Blue Hills. I bike by all the time and she said I need to stop and see what they’re up to. Just when Allendale Farm would have you believe they are the only game in town, Milton is dueling with Brookline for the bucolic title.

Meanwhile, Mike’s my guy. He lives a few blocks away and keeps a hive in the Forest Hills area of JP. Actually, for those of us who think that rural is a walk in the Public Garden, we need to be aware that cartoon and historic give that looks sort of like a point Bib the Michelin man is not what modern apiarists use.

There’s a local-ish connection to that too. In 1852 an Andover minister, Lorenzo L. Langstroth, developed the frame system that slides grids into slots in wooden boxes. The bees leave their honey and they create the nooks for the larvae the queen lays.

The hive systems look like those below in the Mattapan gardens. Mike owns most of those, but all are pretty much the same, stacked boxes (called supers) where the bees live, breed and make honey. The bees are free to come and go, as in the picture at the top.

Hives in Mattapan Square

Bees don’t like being out and about in cool or wet weather, both of which it was Saturday. A few flew, but not enough to open the hives for giggles, even to please somene eager to put on the netting.

Yet, Mike seemed happy enough to stand in the drizzle chatting up one group of gawkers after another, likely answering the same questions for each set of ignorami. He can be disarming too in admitting, “There’s a lot of book learning about bees out there, stuff I don’t know.”

He knows plenty though, including how honey changes seasonally, week to week. He can smell and taste the differences, starting with the sweeter, lighter spring honey bees make with nectar from fruit blossoms. It changes with the April rains and again around Mother’s day, when the spring flowers produce “a light, pale, delicate honey”.

He pointed to some of the garden’s aging annual flowers that September afternoon. “Later the blooms tighten up,” he said, which leads to darker, more powerfully flavored honey.

Inside a frame, the bees seal (cap off) the current honey. “This really is much like a snapshot of what they bring back, a time capsule of what was blooming,” Mike says.

He says like a vertical beer tasting, comparing honeys from the same place or distant ones is a real pleasure. He collects jars from his travels and will pick up and taste unusual ones from places like Italy as a novelty. Personally though, he likes his pets’ output. “I don’t care for the clover, hay or bulk honey from the Midwest,” he says. He finds those bland and without complexity or variety.

On a note that may seem yucky to some, bees partially digest the nectar to make honey. In effect, they take the runny flower nectar and extract the water, outputting the good stuff back in the frame at home. Ideally, they’ll cap off the honey with 15% water. Any more will mildly ferment the honey, which makes the bees who consume it sick.

Local plug: If you just have to try Mike’s bees’ output, you can pick it jars locally, including at Gadgets, Centre Street, JP, yards south of JP Licks.

For his own hives, he faces the same die-off situation all beekeepers do. Last year, for example, he lost three of his nine hives’ residents. This is not the same situation as in the widely publicized situation for large commercial apiarists. Those businesses have hundreds or thousands of hives. Many of them migrate with crops for six months a year, stopping to rent them to fruit and vegetable growers from Florida to Maine, and returning to their home base.

For these guys, honey is “almost a waste product,” Mike says. They’ll keep enough in the hives to give the workers and queen food, particularly for winter, but many don’t care much whether they sell any. Their business is renting pollinators. Sometimes this can lead to staggering numbers. Although he has not visited when the trucks finish their year in the blueberry barrens of Maine, he says they have up to 30,000 hives Downeast before the trucks return to home base. That sight might be worth a road trip.

Mike’s been at this for several years, starting with one hive and now up to nine. The bulk of his commercial honey output comes from the Mattapan towers.

He’s not as cold a capitalist as the pollinator renters, but he has gotten used to his annual losses. Non-carnivorous bees are much less likely to sting a human than wasps and hornets. Yet, despite his calling bees his pets, Mike knows that 20% or more of his colonies will die annually. The pollinator truck guys lose much more and their losses are the basis for the current articles. Mike notes that some other local apiarists scoff at the stories and say that they lose a third every year and have for decades, with no media coverage.

The bulk of the problem seems to be from two varieties of mites that infest a hive and weaken the bees so that they do not produce enough honey and become asthenic from blood loss.

While you can’t exactly go to Stop & Shop to replace bees, they are sold by the pound. When Mike loses a hive, he orders a 3-pound box for $75 with a queen, cleans out the old supers and restocks.

For the majority of colonies that live, he leaves them with about 50 pounds of honey each for the winter. They kind of hang around in cold weather when many bees die of old age, but most are ready come the spring warmth.

Maybe I’m too much of a city kid, but I wondered about security. Down in Mattapan Square, largely hidden from sight at night, you’d think that hives might be a target from kids with too much time. Mike says that isn’t a problem. Not only are the gardens enclosed in a chain link fence and padlock, he notes that the joves are pretty plain boxes. Most people don’t know what they are. Besides, messing with thousands of bees at a time doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Bees and Veggies and Music in Mattapan

September 11th, 2007

I need more info, quotes and pix to finish an urban beekeeper tale. All should fall into place this Saturday in Mattapan Square.
urban hive

There shall be vegetables, gardens, master gardeners, bee hives, music, a plant swap and like that, sweetheart. The Boston Natural Areas Network hoosts its annual Fall Harvest Festival & Perennial Divide.

It is Saturday, Sepetmber 15th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the City Natives gardens at
30 Edgewater Drive, Mattapan Square

My local beekeeper, Mike Graney, has his production hives there. He claims those in my immediate neighborhood are his pets. But the hundreds of pounds of honey he sells annually come from the set of hives down on the Neponset River.

He says that the hosts will have the hats and netting for those of us who just have to handle the honey makers and their comb frames.

This event is free, but you only have four hours, slugs. Get with it.

The full description is:

Free Event, All Welcome

FREE PLANT SWAP: Gardeners are invited to exchange, donate or simply take home perennial divisions and other plants. (Please pre-divide plants into smaller pieces and bring containers to take your plants home.) Master Urban Gardeners will be available to give advice on plant care.
PLANTS FOR SALE: Select native plants propagated at City Native Nursery will be available for purchase.
ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN & YOUTH: Enjoy a special children’s activity.
MUSIC: Live music by Two for the Show.
TOUR: The Learning Garden.
MARKET PRODUCTS: Take advantage of the gardeners market of honey, fresh produce, baked goods and other products produced by community gardens to help support their gardens.
INCREDIBLE CROP OLYMPICS: To enter, bring your crop to the judges’ table at the Festival. You can enter more than one category, but entries must be at the judges’ table before 12:00 p.m. Winners will be announced at 1:00 p.m. Contest categories: Biggest Tomato (circumference measured in inches). Heaviest Zucchini (weight measured in pounds and ounces). Largest Sunflower (diameter measured in inches). Most Voluminous Vegetable (circumference measured in inches).

This is madness…no, this is urban gardening.