UMass Lowell this evening hosted a reception for the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, whose members are in the city for one of their regular meetings. All the Chancellors of the UMass campuses and a variety of other members of the UMass Lowell community and a contingent of leaders from the city and region joined the Trustees at the renovated boathouse on the Merrimack. The National Park Service generously provided a craft for guided tours of the river and a section of the Pawtucket Canal for guests at the reception.
The evening was near perfect for a short excursion on the water. The vivid green riverbank foliage complemented the early evening light blue sky, creating an appealing color scheme. The few riverside residences on that stretch looked totally new to me although I have been on that part of the river many times. One house had a screened-in outbuilding sitting-room of some kind with a roof totally covered with grape vines. On the other bank roars of motorcycles carried over from the regular bike-night roundup at the Sampas Pavilion. The river channel was nearly full to the brim because of the heavy rains this week. In the middle of the river, the feeling of quiet and plenitude was palpable. As we approached the lip of the Pawtucket Falls dam, passengers stood up for a better view of the falls, mostly contained but with bursts of white water here and there splashing onto the rocks below. This is the national landmark site whose future is uncertain, given current discussions about altering the design of the dam. Who would want to tinker with this resource that stands for the origin of the city? The scene tonight was the classic vista with the expanse of water and brick gatehouse and light-colored stone bridge just beyond. Half of the boat passengers pointed and clicked their phone-cameras—a sure sign that the place had made an impression on them. They wanted some pieces of this to take home with them.