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Excursion to Blithewold

I was longing to go on an outing, and at this time of year it would have to be to the water. Usually I go north, but last Saturday I decided to go south instead, to Bristol, Rhode Island and Blithewold, a beautiful summer house on Narragansett Bay. I had visited years ago and remembered liking the house very much. It was an easy drive from Boston, just over an hour, which included crossing two bridges in Rhode Island, one of them the long and lovely Mount Hope Bridge.

Blithewold 8-20-2016_small

from upper left: the view from the sleeping porch off the master bedroom, the view from the terrace, fish pond in the garden, waterfront looking north toward the town of Bristol, waterfront looking south, steps leading from the North Porch to the garden

Blithewold was built in 1908, to replace the Van Wickle family’s 1896 house, which burned down. It is considered to be one of the most authentic and intact examples of the Country Place Era in the U.S.  It was a time when wealthy Americans, who had not inherited country manors, built their own.  The architects, Kilham and Hopkins of Boston, were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement in England. Continue reading


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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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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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Sweet Blessings from Ireland

daffodils_small 1These cheery flowers on our kitchen table came with a message on their tag: “This bouquet of daffodils was hand picked from the green fields of Ireland…. enjoy Irish springtime. SLAINTE.” Amazing to think these little daffodils flew over the Atlantic to be with us. I’m grateful for their sweet fragrance and yellow light and the message they brought from Ireland, a place I’m longing to visit.

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A Spring Day on March 9th

Yesterday was a bizarrely warm day for March 9th here in the Boston area, in fact a record 76°. Unlike most people, I actually don’t like the unseasonably warm  weather we’re having this winter. As a lover of the quietness and inwardness of winter, when I feel quite centered in my beloved home, I don’t like winter to end too soon. I have many projects yet to complete at home before the spring. The warm weather lately has pulled me off my center and made me restless, too early in the year. I’m afraid the disruption of our seasons is a very bad sign for our climate.

Nevertheless, it was fun to go off on an excursion on the train yesterday to Wellesley College. A friend was desperate to see some greenery, and I suggested the Wellesley College greenhouses. Years ago Jeremy Foss, professor of painting at MassArt, used to take his landscape painting class to the Wellesley greenhouses when it was too cold to work outside. Wellesley College has got to be one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, and I also admire the institution a great deal. I’ve read a fair amount on the history of the women’s colleges and have a quirky interest in the topic. I didn’t go to a women’s college, but I wish I had. My great aunt Nora went to Wellesley and became an English teacher, so I have a slight family connection with the place.

It’s an easy train ride to Wellesley Square and a short walk through the village center to the edge of the campus. There was a watercolor class going on in the classroom of the greenhouses as we entered, and a small group of women from a senior living facility were departing, having had their tour. We were free to wander around the greenhouses by ourselves; no one else was there but a friendly gardener who was watering the plants and answered a few questions for us.

First we walked through the room with the cacti collection, which I don’t much care for, and then in the greenhouse, there it was–the touch of spring we had come for.

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