We just lived through the coldest night in Boston in over fifty years — nine below zero! We’d been warned for days of the severe Arctic chill that was coming this weekend, with wind chills of twenty-five below or more, so Peter and I walked around the Pond Saturday morning and then burrowed into our home for the duration of the weekend. The thermostat read 58° when we got up at 8:00 this morning, the lowest I have ever seen it. Not until noon did it reach 68°. For Valentine’s Day we allowed ourselves a little extra heat, and we were snug and warm all day.
I love these quiet winter days. We walk around the Pond in the afternoon most of the time. Peter prefers morning, but I’ve persuaded him it’s warmer in the afternoon in winter. I like to go later in the afternoon to see the colors of sunset and twilight.
Then it’s home to tea and a good book. This past week tea was tiny slices of my favorite marzipan fruitcake. I make it every Christmas season, and this year I doubled the recipe and froze two little loaves — that size is perfect for teatime. The ginger cookies I made for the first time in January, and that recipe will become one of my regulars. It’s got chopped crystallized ginger and walnuts as well as nutmeg and cloves. The buttery, spicy ginger cookies go very nicely with the fruitcake, which contains dried apricots, cherries, pineapple and golden raisins.
Over the years of walking in our parks, I’ve come to love the graceful, leaping squirrels who live in the trees. In the Public Garden, where they live surrounded by people, they’re tame enough to eat out of humans’ hands. I give them pecans and walnuts and love to watch them eat, holding the nuts in their delicate hands as they sit up on the ground or on a tree branch or sometimes as they hang upside down on a tree trunk! The Public Garden squirrels are among the world’s most privileged: every time it snows, many people think of them and bring them nuts. Continue reading
I like to carry my camera around with me in my daily life and look at things I might otherwise walk right by. I found in my files two recent photos I had taken of lanterns in places of major importance to me:
The entrance to my beloved Boston Public Library in Copley Square, the center of my life in the city. I looked up as I entered on a recent afternoon, to see the grillwork reflected on the glass doors, with the lantern shining through in the vestibule. “Free to All” is chiseled in the stone above the doors. In this library I take free classes, attend programs, get books, and always feel welcome. The cloistered courtyard in the center is one of the great public spaces in the city. Last summer I listened to lovely midday concerts there while sipping iced tea and watching birds fly about the courtyard and the sky above. My retirement party (one of them, that is) was an afternoon tea in the library’s restaurant. We citizens of Boston are fortunate to have one of the great libraries in the country as our very own, and I never cease to be grateful.
At the end of a recent walk around Jamaica Pond I noticed the lantern over the gateway to the dock shining in the gathering twilight. The mile-and-a-half path around the Pond is our almost daily walk, except when I am downtown walking around there. The Pond is a priceless asset in our neighborhood, two blocks from our home. I am forever grateful to Frederick Law Olmsted for his vision in making the Pond part of the Boston park system and the Emerald Necklace. It’s so important to so many people, and to us who live in the Pondside neighborhood, it is the center of our local geographic identity. Here I’ve watched the seasons for thirty years, taken thousands of photos, observed and come to love the ducks, geese, and squirrels, and watched sunsets and moonrises. When I moved to this neighborhood of Boston from Rockport thirty years ago, the Pond seemed a small substitute for the ocean, but it has grown large in my life over the years.