I had another post planned, but never finished it due to the tumultuous events this week. So here’s some calming content of my hunt for fall foliage at a local gold mine last year instead. ****** I never appreciated the fall foliage I grew up with in Massachusetts until I moved to North Carolina. In New England, brilliant hues of yellow, orange, and red would begin to appear in early September. Here in Charlotte, the leaves mainly turn a burnt orange in mid October. If you go looking for it though, you can still find a burst of color amount the duller hues around the end of November. And what better place to look then the trails around an old gold mine? In addition to foliage, you may spot veins of white quartz that may or may not contain gold, and the oddly placed raccoon skull.
Salem, Massachusetts may be well known for it’s history of witch trials, but it also has a rich literary history as well. Salem was the birthplace and home of Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of the Scarlett letter. Hawthorne lived in four houses during his lifetime in Salem, and to me the most interesting one is at 14 Mall Street. It’s where Hawthorne wrote the Scarlet Letter, while working in a customs house. When I visited in 2012 the house was abandoned and in disrepair, guarded by a large dead tree and surrounded by gravestones. In contrast, the site of the customs house where Hawthorne worked is still lively and bustling, situated right on Salem’s waterfront. It’s easy to see how his occupation may have influenced his writing. Part of The Scarlet Letters plot is based on the length of time sea travel took during the time period, which Hawthorne would have been more than familiar with watching ships sail in and out of Salem Harbor.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a place I can visit over and over again. Named after the woman who spent her life collecting the art within it, and commissioned the unique building it is housed in. She personally oversaw the construction of the museum in Boston’s Fens neighborhood and personally arranged all of the artwork. When she passed away in 1924, her will stipulated that nothing in the museum’s galleries would be changed, and no items be acquired or sold from the collection. The museum is known internationally for the shocking theft of 13 paintings by renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet, and Degas in 1990. One of the stolen paintings was Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee (his only known seascape.) If you visit, you will see the empty frames the paintings were cut out of still on display. Visitors can only take pictures of the museum’s intricate courtyard and gardens, but it’s Instagram account shares works of art, museum events, and pages from Isabella’s many journals.
I’m always on the lookout for new historical sites to explore in my area, and when I came across a site that played a part in the Revolutionary War near Lake Wylie in South Carolina, I was very eager to visit.
Reposting this account of an ill fated trip to Myrtle beach a few years ago. I know for many there is an urge to rush back to pre-COVID activities for a sense of normalcy. I can definitely sympathize, I almost became stranded in a flood zone because I didn’t want to give up a much anticipated beach weekend after a major hurricane passed over the area I was traveling to. Trust me, ignoring warnings and red flags for a trip, a party, or other high risk activity is not worth it. ***** I wish I could say the above picture was from a quiet weekend at Myrtle Beach, spent relaxing on the beach and catching up on submissions. Unfortunately, it was the single bright moment in a 24 hour nightmare. I scheduled my trip to Myrtle beach back in late July, long before hurricane Florence was even a rainstorm. I even added trip insurance to my hotel booking, well aware that September is an active month for hurricanes. The week before left, I had confirmed …
Last week I posted a poem I entered into an International Peace Day themed contest (you can vote for it here!) I mentioned in that post that my poem was partially inspired by a walk through a cemetery adjacent to a nature park. The cemetery was Evergreen Cemetery, right next to Evergreen Park. Evergreen Park is small, but serene, and one of its paths joins the walkways in the cemetery. This may sound strange, but I actually like walking through cemeteries. When I was in grade school, I went on numerous field trips to the old graveyards in my small Massachusetts hometown. We noted the years and months during which people died, identified life spans by looking at the dates on head stones and then coming up with averages, and noted who was buried with family, and who was not. My favorite part was taking rubbings of the artwork on the headstones, and looking up the symbolism of different images later. All of this was an effort to teach us how history is studied, the …
This summer for me has been more about looking inward then exploring new places like I usually do. Not exactly by choice, but I’m trying to make the best of it, like everyone else. During my daily walks I’ve tried to redirect myself from anxious trouts by keeping my eye out for interesting insects and other critters. I’m literally trying to appreciate the little things by looking for interesting colors and patterns. Here are some of the highlights.
I absolutely love exploring historical sites, and out of all of the ones I’ve visited, Eastern State Penitentiary is one of my favorites. It’s a massive prison on the edge of Philadelphia, well known for famous prisoners, brazen escape attempts, and ghost stories. It’s a fascinating place to visit, maintained as a “preserved ruin” that has been left largely in the same state as when it was closed and abandoned, with a few cells restored to their original state. Eastern State was the first penitentiary in the world, holding each prisoner in solitary confinement in order to inspire penitence, or strong regret. It opened in 1829, and featured an imposing exterior designed to inspire a foreboding fear. The inside of the prison was quite different, with running water, flushing toilets, and architecture that resembles a church. As time went on, the prison began to function as a more traditional prison, housing inmates together until it was closed in 1971 It was reopened to the public for historical tours in 1994 after being discovered by Steve Buscemi. …
Although most of my writing centers around darker themes, I usually feel the most inspired to write after a bright, sunny nature hike. I’m not sure if it’s the dose of fresh air or spotting something unusual, like a tree overtaking a barbed wire fence, but I always come home feeling refreshed with new ideas and motivation. Fortunately there are many parks nearby for me to recharge at, including Frank Liske Park in Concord, just a town over from Charlotte. I visited early last Sunday, trying to sneak in a refreshing walk before the southern heat and humidity settled in for the day. It was exactly what I needed. What do you do to recharge?