Through our lens: Summer stalwarts 

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  • Members of the Melnik family of Leeds pull ashore after a paddle around Upper Highland Lake at the D.A.R. State Forest on Saturday. Joining Alice Melnik, left, and Pat Melnik, background right, are their daughter, Mary Melnik Penney, center, and her 7-year-old twins, Kathleen and Nora Penney, right. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kevin Robertson changes a roll of paper last Tuesday, one of the last days before the last run of the press at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Raven Hetzler, left, and Neil Zagorin, both of Amherst, practice aikido Tuesday on the Cushman Village Common in North Amherst. They are students at Aikido of Amherst and said they have been doing their practicing outdoors since the pandemic began. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Beatriz Rivera swims with her son Nathaniel Gomez, who has autism, at the Leeds dam. Rivera explained that she has two other children, ages 2 and 4, whose day care recently reopened. “I was so happy,” she said, “that I could bring Nathaniel here and have some Mommy time.” STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Seven-year-old twins Nora and Kathleen Penney, left and right, of Leeds take a short dip in the water of Upper Highland Lake after kayaking with their family at the D.A.R. State Forest in Goshen on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A double rainbow over MurDuff's Jewelery on Main Street in Florence about 7:30 p.m. on Thursday of last week. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amanda Demling, left, and Reighan Joyce, both of Amherst, adhere to social distancing recommendations while talking at Groff Park in Amherst on Tuesday. They met to celebrate Joyce’s birthday. Both are entering their senior year of high school. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Photographer
Published: 7/30/2020 12:09:10 PM

Late July into early August means it’s full-on summer in the Valley. And though the COVID-19 pandemic has put a dent in just about everything we know, some summer stalwarts seem immutable. Photos from the Gazette’s pages this last week suggest at least a trio of perennial favorites: swimming holes, road construction and the summer sky.

In the last week, I count at least three visits by Gazette photographers to document the fun at local water holes — and that’s not including Tuesday’s “A Look Back” column photo from 50 years ago of a boy splashing into the Look Park pool. That pool no longer exists, but the summer attraction to water remains timeless. Ongoing construction at two local roundabouts reminds us that Massachusetts is not that different from other “temperate” climate states where I’ve heard it said that there are really only two seasons: winter and orange barrel.

Comet Neowise invited photo submissions from several Valley residents who captured its awesome but all-too-brief brilliance. I was a little late to that party, making my first attempt at a viewing last Saturday night. Finding the indistinct smudge was fun, and a success story in itself, but photographically the results were underwhelming. I had a little more luck with an ephemeral rainbow that seemed to drop its pot of gold behind a Florence jewelry store.

The one visible difference in the photos this summer — at least the ones on Earth — is the presence of face masks, or sometimes a notable lack thereof. Since March, there has been a great increase in people wearing masks, though by no means a universal one. There are puzzling exceptions. On a visit to the Holyoke Mall, I found the walkways bustling but still wide enough for plenty of social distancing. Store employees, as far as I could see, were all wearing masks — but only about half of the patrons were. Perhaps the combination of the high ceilings and airy light gave people a feeling that they were outdoors.

I also found a sizable crowd on my visit Saturday to an actual outdoor venue: Highland Lake at the D.A.R. State Forest in Goshen. On my hunt for a warm weather feature, I passed many people gathered around picnic tables in the woods or on blankets at the swimming beach, usually in groups of a half dozen or fewer. Since there was nary a mask to be seen, I’d like to think that each group was a family, or at least its own “quaranteam.” That should be a word, if it’s not already. Behind my own mask, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. But then I ventured over to the boat launch beach, about 100 yards away. Here, the flow of people coming and going was quite light, but, in contrast, nearly all of them wore masks, even a family coming in off the water together. It seems that things are on the trajectory to get better, but we’ll need to double down if we all want to get through this, in the most literal sense, “together.”

Kevin Gutting can be reached at

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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