Category Archives: Boston

Refuge at the Boston Public Library

August is one of my least favorite months every year. The heat gets very tiresome by now; the humidity takes all the wind out of my sails.  We had that fabulous cool June, and then Peter and I  were fortunate to be in Maine during the worst heat waves in July, although even Maine was hotter than I would have liked some of the time. Now August is being difficult, and I just want summer to be over and crispness to return to the air. I want the freedom to move around outside and live my life without being dominated by the oppressive weather.

Boston Public Library_McKim Building

Today I decided to escape to the library in Copley Square. We have only two air conditioned rooms at home, and I get tired of being cooped up in there; I realized I could take advantage of the library’s air conditioning and spend the day there instead. Shortly after a small breakfast, I took the air conditioned bus to Copley Square and went right into the library, where it was cool and quiet still in the morning.  First stop was the café, for second breakfast, a cup of iced tea and a cheese Danish (Friday treat).  While sipping the tea very slowly, I read my current library book, Diana Athill’s Alive, Alive Oh!, reflections of a 97-year-old English writer on what seems important as she looks back on her life–my kind of book.  I looked through the Globe on my phone, wrote an email to a former colleague who is still working while I’m blissfully retired, and looked at photos on the 365 Project, which I’ve recently started, all while luxuriating in having the whole day ahead of me to spend in the library in whatever way I wished–a play day!
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A Lovely Garden on a Rainy Day

Today I walked a few blocks to the Loring Greenough House in Jamaica Plain to see the garden just after it had rained. They recently won a first prize in the Mayor’s Annual Garden Contest  in the category for organizations.*

Loring Greenough House Garden 2

It was a pleasure to stroll along the two long beds extending from the back door of the house and take pictures of the flowers with rain drops on them in the cool gray light. We’ve needed the rain so badly, although what we got wasn’t nearly enough. I worry about the farmers in Massachusetts in this drought, especially since I know some of them from the farmers markets where I’ve bought my produce for many years.

The Greenough House garden was looking green and lush, though, and most of the flowers were in the pink-lavender-purple range which is my favorite. I wish I knew the names of all the flowers, but alas… I don’t.

It’s nice that in recent years the Tuesday Club, which owns the house, has invited the public in to enjoy the grounds. There are chairs placed under the old apple trees, and it’s a delightful place to sit a spell and relax among the greenery and flowers right in the busy center of Jamaica Plain.

Chairs under the Trees

 * It must be mentioned that Andrew Hatcher, a board member, is the one who devotes countless hours to this garden, and I believe he has made it what it is. I heard him speak movingly about gardening at an event at the house last spring.

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Boston Harborwalk

It’s not often that I’m able to walk around the city in July, hating the heat as I do, but this year as late as July 2nd I was able to go downtown on a beautiful Saturday and enjoy walking around all afternoon on the Harborwalk.  The Harborwalk is a most amazing development in Boston in the last twenty years, which will link 39 miles of public pathways along the waterfront when it’s done, a Sapphire Necklace to go along with the Emerald Necklace of green parks we already have, thanks to Frederick Law Olmsted.   Already twenty-some miles are ready, and one can walk all along the waterfront downtown, up and down wharves, and across the channel to the Fan Pier, which affords some of the best views of Boston.

Tea Party Ship

I started out at South Station and crossed over the channel. Here I’m looking back over at the old and new buildings. The Tea Party ship is in the foreground. This reminds me of how, when I’m in England and people ask where I’m from, when I say Boston, they immediately mention the Tea Party. Most people around here don’t think about it all that much.


I must say I like the Intercontinental Hotel building.

Intercontinental Hotel

I walked along Fan Pier, where the view of Rowe’s Wharf is fabulous, although I don’t like the look of that big cruise boat, the Odyssey, that ties up there.

Rowes Wharf from Fan Pier

Rowes Wharf and Custom Tower

Since my Cape Ann excursion I had been longing to get back to the water, and going downtown to the Harborwalk was a fun and refreshing way to be by the water right in the city.

The fine weather held up through July 4th, which was great for all the visitors and the holiday festivities. The next day, July 5th, the humidity set in, and our fantastic stretch of summer weather was over. We were very lucky to have it as long as we did. We were leaving for Maine on July 9th, so we didn’t have too many hot days to get through.


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A Spectacular June in Boston

Roses outside our WindowsWe’ve just had one of the loveliest Junes in memory, with day after day of sun, blue skies, and most importantly, low humidity. There were very few uncomfortably hot days in the entire month. While the news in the world has seemed devastating, nature has been at her most benign. I decided not to work as hard this month on the house clearing project and to give myself some time off for excursions within the city and beyond.

The neighborhood has been blooming. Right outside our window the rose bush was lush earlier in June. That rose was planted not so many years ago, and it has thrived in the sunny, south facing patch of ground outside our building.

As I walk around the neighborhood, I like to look into people’s gardens. The pink and lavender and blue flowers have been heavenly.


Meanwhile the ducklings and goslings are growing up at the Pond. We’re so lucky to live in the city and yet have the chance to observe wild life two blocks away at Jamaica Pond. Thank you, Frederick Law Olsted–I will never cease to be grateful. The green and blue tranquility of the Pond is a priceless asset to the neighborhood.

The Green Cove

I call this the Green Cove, for obvious reasons.

Mama duck and ducklings

The mother duck takes care of her babies all by herself; the male duck is out of the picture early on. The ducklings stick together and stay close to mother. They fall into line behind her in the  water, and they’re a lovely, quiet family. I like the duck personality.


Meanwhile, in the Canada goose families the father goose is always present, keeping watch.

Into the water

Goose Family in the Water

The goslings grow fast.  I took the photo of the pretty one on the left on June 6th. By the 19th they had become gawky like the one on the right.

We have two sets of goslings at the Pond this year, one group of seven and one of five. The two families join forces to raise the young, so I always see them together, four adults and twelve goslings, with the five being slightly older than the seven.

Two goose families

Sometimes I like to go back to the Pond to watch the sunset. If I sit on a bench on our side of the Pond, the sun sets directly across the water. It’s as Thoreau said, “Really to see the sun rise or go down every day, so to relate ourselves to a universal fact, would preserve us sane forever.”

Sunset at Jamaica Pond

Sunset over dock


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The Memoir Project Celebration in Boston

Streets of EchoesFor ten years the City of Boston and the writing center Grub Street have collaborated on The Memoir Project, offering eight-week writing workshops to seniors in all neighborhoods of Boston and then publishing anthologies of their short memoir pieces. Ever since I heard about the project several years ago, I have been proud of Boston’s involvement in such a worthwhile endeavor and the support of our late, beloved Mayor Thomas Menino. I treasure my copies of all the volumes and have read every essay with keen interest and enjoyment and attended some of the public readings.

On Wednesday evening May 11 there was a celebration of the release of the fifth and final volume,  Streets of Echoes: Stories from Boston’s  Most Enduring Neighborhoods, Back Bay-Fenway, Beacon Hill-West End, and Dorchester. It was a beautiful spring late afternoon, and I walked over the bridge to the Seaport District, stopping to have tea at a table on Fan Pier looking back at the downtown skyline. The event was held at the new District Hall, in the midst of all the intense construction in the Seaport.

Downtown from Fan Pier

Michelle Seaton, who taught writing workshops in all the neighborhoods, told us the senior participants generally start out saying nothing important ever happened to them, so they don’t know what they’ll have to write about. By the end of the eight weeks, their notebooks are brimming with stories and they don’t know how they’ll fit them all in.  Each person is then assigned to a writing coach to help them hone their selected story for the publication. Some of the seniors have had previous writing experience, and others are quite new to writing. Continue reading

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Squirrels in the Public Garden

IMG_0901Over 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

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Lantern Light

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.

Lantern at Pond

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.


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