Operating for over 200 years, Brattle Book Store is one of Boston’s original book shops. The first time I visited was my sophomore year of high school. I had just just finished the full 20 mile loop for Boston’s Walk for Hunger with my friends, and my feet were so swollen, I was limping. I just wanted sit on a bench with the Ben and Jerry’s bar the walk’s organizers bestow on everyone who crosses the finish line. But my friends convinced me to begrudgingly limp a little bit further, to check out a bookstore a few blocks away. It was worth it. I loved the creaky wooden floors, the narrow isles between shelves stuffed full of books, and the quiet of the third floor, reserved for rare and antique books. The best part, however, was the outdoor sale in the alley adjacent to the store. Everything was three dollars or less, and I wound up buying a hefty National Geographic photography book for two dollars. I still own it. I went back again and …
My husband traveled back to our home state of Massachusetts to visit family last week. While he was up there he visited some of our favorite haunts, one of which is the wildlife refuge that we used to live a few minutes away from in Taunton, Ma. I was pleasantly surprised when he sent me a few snapshots of his visit while he was still away. Formally named the Gertrude M. Borden Wildlife Refuge, but known to locals as “the bird sanctuary,” it is a quiet park with trails and a boardwalk along the river. It was the perfect place for summertime strolls and appreciating the local fall foliage, even if at times it felt like it wasn’t being as well maintained as it should have been. My husband’s pictures show it on the edge of autumn, when the days are still warm but a chill creeps into the air after sunset.
The first snowfall of the season is always exciting, although the first snow we had here in Charlotte was less than picturesque, snow mixed with a miserable freezing rain. This got me searching back through my old pictures fore some of the more ideal first snows I’ve experienced. The one shown above was taken in front of Faneuil Hall in 2012 during my time working in Boston. Charlotte, NC 2018 Charlotte, NC 2016 Charlotte, NC 2014 Taunton, MA 2018
My visit back to Massachusetts has been bittersweet. I traveled back this week for the funeral of my husband’s stepfather, and although saying goodbye was difficult, there were a few silver linings. Visiting with family, eating favorite foods we can’t find down in North Carolina, and a literal one, the first snowfall of the year for Massachusetts.
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.
The last time I visited Massachusetts for a wedding in 2015, I was able to stay in Boston for two days as a mini anniversary trip with my husband. Since we worked in the city for a long time, we decided to explore the city as tourists would for the weekend. One of the top tourist attractions we visited was Fenway Park. Although we have both have been lifelong fans of the Red Soxs , we had never toured Fenway Park before. More then just the home of the Red Soxs, Fenway Park is a historic landmark that opened in 1912, and has been operating ever since. It is the oldest ballpark currently hosting a Major League Baseball team. The tour offers a detailed history of Fenway and the Red Sox as a team, and fantastic views of the city and the park.
The main attraction that draws tourists to Cape Cod every summer are the beaches. And while there are many beautiful ones to choose from, there is another notable landmark worth visiting. The Cape Cod Canal stretches seven miles across the neck of Cape Cod, connecting Buzzards Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. Not only is it an important waterway cutting down travel time for boaters looking to circumvent the long trip around the cape, it is a beautiful recreational spot for bikers, joggers, and dog walkers. The entire canal is lined with a biking trail, and dotted with benches and picnic tables. Visitors can marvel at the large ships passing through, and if the timing is right, watch the raised railroad bridge (built in 1933) lower for passing trains. Preferable with a take out picnic from one of the many seafood spots nearby.
I love visiting zoos that make use of the natural setting that they are located in, vs. zoos that have completely man made, fabricated habitats. The Southwick Zoo in Mendon, MA makes great use of the woodsy 200 acres it occupies, with leafy shaded habitats for the exotic animals residing there. The largest habitat is a 35 acre deer forest, which visitors can roam a gravel path with a bucket of pellets, hoping to feed the braver deer that will approach them. During my visit I found that the boldest ones are patiently waiting for you to arrive at the end of the trail with food, and will willing to eat off of my outstretched hand. The deer park wasn’t the only opportunity to feed doe eyed herbivores, as the zoo also offers giraffe feedings as well. I ascended up to a platform with three other visitors that placed us at eye level with four of the long necked mammals. We gripped tree branches that they methodically stripped of leaves. Once mine was bare, the large male ran each part of the branch through his …
I’m heading home to Massachusetts this weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday, and am planning on visiting as many of my favorite places as possible during the week I am there. One of those is is the wildlife refuge that I used to live a few minutes away from in Taunton, Ma. A quiet park with trails and a boardwalk along the river, it was the perfect place for summertime strolls and appreciating the local fall foliage.