Through our lens: Old times and new times

  • Faith Bisbee helps her daughter, Brooke, 7, practice setting the topline on Carson Bisbee’s cow, Lucky, at their home in Chesterfield on Tuesday. Carson will enter Lucky in this year’s 4-H competition at the Three County Fair. Brooke will enter Bristol, a Jersey fall calf. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Preschool teacher Suzanne Morse Rilla, second from left, listens to Tuva Siebing, 7, during a retirement party for her last Thursday near the teacher’s home in Amherst. Assistant teacher Rachel Morales, left, looks on with Siebing’s mother, Leah Roth-Howe, and sister, Elsa, 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • During a retirement party for preschool teacher Suzanne Morse Rilla, nearly 200 hearts made by her assistant teacher, Rachel Morales, bear the names of her students from the past 34 years; the decorations hang from a tree near Morse Rilla’s home in Amherst last Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Peter Dellert of Holyoke, left, talks about his work with Michael Tillyer during the opening of his show titled “Work Related,” last Friday at Anchor House of Artists in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carson Bisbee, 9, washes Lucky, his milking shorthorn yearling on Tuesday at his home in Chesterfield. Lucky is his entry in this year's 4-H competition at the Three County Fair. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jason Antosz, an employee of the Department of Public Works in Northampton, cleans the fountain at Trinity Row Park in Florence. The fountains around the city were not opened this spring due to COVID-19 but are now being turned on. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Patrons of Thornes Marketplace in Northampton observe the divided “up” and “down” traffic flow on the grand stairwell at the Northampton landmark. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Participants in the Black Trans Lives Matter march in Northampton on Saturday wrote names of transgender victims of violence on the steps of City Hall. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Photographer
Published: 7/23/2020 12:44:01 PM

Our community once again found creative ways to gather and enrich each other’s lives this week, while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.

Art galleries were included as part of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Phase 3 reopening plan that began earlier this month, and some in the Valley have opened, but few have had opening receptions for their shows.

With the exhibition space limited to six people per 30-minute time slot, I watched as Anchor House of Artists in Northampton and their masked patrons tried out the new normal with a reception for Holyoke artist Peter Dellert last Friday.

“It was an exciting thing,” said Michael Tillyer, the gallery director.

“It felt like the old times and the new times. We opened the back door, and some people stayed” to talk outside, he noted. “It was a good time for people who haven’t seen each other to get back together.”

On Tuesday, I visited Clay Hill Farm in Chesterfield to get photos of the Bisbee family for a story about the 4-H show at this year’s Three County Fair. Due to the pandemic, it will be limited to exhibitors only.

“The show is a family event. Generations of people come for the kids. The kids hung out with their 4-H friends all weekend. They’ll definitely miss their friends this year,” Faith Bisbee said.

Last Thursday, I went to a retirement party for preschool teacher Suzanne Morse Rilla in Amherst and watched as her recent students, past students and their parents sat in cars decorated in signs and balloons at the end of a cul-de-sac near the home of their beloved teacher.

Morse Rilla strolled from car to car visiting with all, receiving gifts that included artwork, flowers and handpicked blueberries. Soon, she made a second pass to give the students friendship awards, prizes earned during a virtual field day she held, and photo books containing pictures of her entire class and quotes by them about what friendship means.

The focal point was a tree in the island of the cul-de-sac covered in nearly 200 hand-cut paper hearts; they were decorated with lines, swirls and photos bearing the names of students from her 34 years of teaching and were created by Morse Rilla’s assistant teacher of 13 years, Rachel Morales. They took about two weeks to make.

“Hearts just really touch me,” Morales said. It has been a tradition in her family since her uncle passed away about 15 years ago to find and gift heart-shaped rocks, she said. Morse Rilla once brought her a heart rock from a trip to Mexico. “She’s become one of my best friends,” Morales said.

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