photography, The Daily Post Blog Prompt, Uncategorized, winter activities, Writing

Powered by Sun and Beauty in Haverhill MA

THE DAILY POST BLOGGING PROMPT us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated. What was it that had such a positive effect on you?

I ran away from home Saturday after being irritable in general and cooped up for days on end, living a life of fleece vests and turtlenecks in my home office and only getting out for a quick dash to a restaurant or much needed grocery jaunts. A broken car brought about a chance to change that. My husband needed a lift to work at 11am and the sun was shining brightly though the temperature struggled to reach 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the warmest it had been in weeks. I had my camera and the belief that I could capture a photo of a young child learning to skate on one of the many lakes, ponds, and rinks in my city,  Haverhill, MA. So I took off with neither a phone, nor appropriate winter garb.

DSC_0177 Haverhill Ice Hockey
Pentucket Lake Haverhill


“What’s that?” Dazzling fluorescent oranges and yellows on a white ice lakescape captured my eye and in minutes I  bypassed adult hockey and learned about ice fishing from electrician and race car champion Tommy Tombarello and his band of Outlaws, as well as the Lacefields.

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The juxtaposition of a man snowblowing an ice skating rink on another lake (Lake Saltonstall/Plug Pond) where it seemed just days earlier I had photographed swimmers and kayakers had me shaking my head in the recognition that spring will, in fact, return.

Lake Saltonstall aka Plug Pond
Lake Saltonstall aka Plug Pond


Ice spikes crashing in what appeared to be a solidifying river hypnotized me with their glare and jagged edges.

DSC_0354 Haverhill Harbor Place
Merrimack River Downtown Haverhill


My spirit soared with the beauty of it all when a bald eagle swooped into view. I drove to his perch through the dismal alley that is being converted into a downtown renaissance, shot off a couple of photos before the bird sought out less company and winged his way beyond the tree tops.

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As that photo option deserted me, another arose. The road less traveled went left and I followed to Haverhill’s ski area. There were the kids in colorful snow suits learning not to skate but to ski. Happy kids, wailing kids, timid kids and their adult companions exhibiting most of the same emotions.

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The sun was sinking low behind the ski lifts, and the decision was tough – find more photo ops or get home to review the pictures I’d already taken. ‘Home’ won out in my head, but not in the bigger scheme of things. I passed a promising sign in front of a church that had  been the center of a disturbing theft that made international news. Its sign offered counselling for drug addicts and their family and friends in a city much like many others that is seeing firsthand the devastation of heroin. And I realized I could help polish the associations made with the church through my FB page. One legal U-turn later and I stopped for a quick photo. I was intercepted by a parishioner who though friendly, appeared wary of more strangers with cameras demonstrating an unusual interest in her church. “Are you here to take a picture of our beautiful church?”  she queried. I answered “yes” though she might have doubted my sincerity.

DSC_0580 Haverhill Sacred Hearts
Sacred Heart Parish


Nearby, the first robin of the season hopped on the frozen ground as the camera clicked, and I was so invigorated by my day that I forgot to cringe. According to family superstition you want to see your first robin in the air for a year of good luck. On the ground, not so good. But nothing could undo my elevated mood. The vast beauty of my city presented itself like a gift and I had the means to pay it forward. I could remove some ugliness with words of hope and praise.

Last year's first robin in a tree means much better luck
Last year’s first robin in a tree much better luck

At home I typed on my The Heartbeat of Haverhill Facebook page: “Share if you think #SacredHeartsParish deserves to be known for its efforts to heal the afflicted, the strength of its congregation, and its beautiful church.” The post quickly closed in on 2,000 views with dozens of shares and likes and many private messages, and comments in appreciation of the positive post.

It was the most beautiful day I’d experienced in a while and fueled by the energy of beauty, I was able to break through the ennui that sapped my energy and muffled my creative muse.

(c)2015 by Alison Colby-Campbell


3 thoughts on “Powered by Sun and Beauty in Haverhill MA”

  1. Nice story and it brought back memories. I knew everywhere that you went. I left Haverhill in 68 for 4 years and in December of 72 left for good, only coming back to visit family and friends that I left behind.


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