A taste of Massachusetts

I know there's hype about New England foliage, but it's for real. There's nothing like the autumn colours in the northeast.
I know there’s hype about New England foliage, but it’s for real. There’s nothing like the autumn colours in the northeast.

The first day of November in Fitchburg, Massachusetts was pretty wet, but everybody (particularly Tetley the dog) wanted to go out for a walk anyway. The family lives in a beautiful spot in the hills, next door to forests, and we headed out. It turned out to be colder than expected, so it was just a short walk, but fun for me to soak up New England and remember the things I love about it. If you’ve ever spent time in these parts, you’ll know that in the forest there are ubiquitous stone walls that served as ancient property boundaries. I have seen them in New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

The boys lead the way through the forest.
The boys lead the way through the forest.
Old stone wall in a Massachusetts forest.
Old stone wall in a Massachusetts forest.
Fire Engine Red
Fire Engine Red

K had created an enormous pile of pancakes for us all to eat that morning, and then went off to the school to work on student progress reports. E and I chatted while we dried off and waited for our ride back to the city. Finally we had to say our goodbyes. E had purchased Vermont Cabot cheese for me as my specially requested New England delicacy (it’s about $15/lb here), and I predictably forgot it in her fridge. Luckily she likes it too!

Reunited with loved ones.
Reunited with loved ones.

Once we were back in the city, our friends took us to Brazilian barbecue restaurant in Cambridge called Midwest Grill, where the waiters brought large hunks of meat to the table and carved it for us. I tried enough meat dishes to last me till Christmas and they practically had to carry me out I was so stuffed. I’d say it’s a good plug for a restaurant when a meal becomes a highlight of a trip! They all went to eat ice cream afterward and I couldn’t order a thing.

Next it was time to visit Fenway. Sadly, though only early evening, the season brought early darkness, hastened even more by the thick clouds and rain. The ballpark was closed, and raindrops splashed my lens, but I was thrilled to be there anyway. R and Tara stayed warm in the car while M and I ran around in the rain.

Ahh, my heart warms just to stand here on the sidewalk.
Ahh, my heart warms just to stand here on the sidewalk.
M and me, snapped by some stranger walking past. I happily handed over my camera. "In another city," says M, "your camera would be gone."
M and me, snapped by some stranger walking past. I happily handed over my camera. “In another city,” says M, “your camera would be gone.”
Yawkey Way. Is there a more Boston-sounding street?
Yawkey Way. Is there a more Boston-sounding street? There’s the big green stadium on the right.
Maybe I'm silly, but this is as much Boston to me as anything else.
Maybe I’m silly, but this is as much Boston to me as anything else.

There was one last friend I was able to visit, and T and I dropped by for a couple hours, till we were all wiped out for the day. My T opened up and talked a blue streak. It’s nice to see when trust develops between a friend and my kid. Yawning, we hugged goodbye and took photos.

Next fun adventure: we walked a few blocks, bought our Charlie Cards, and hopped onto the green line. Then we switched to the red line and headed out towards M’s place again for the night. It was 10:30 at night and though it was November 1, it was also the day after Halloween and a Saturday, so several of our fellow passengers were costumed and heading for parties. It has been a decade since I rode a Boston subway (back then we used token coins, and I’ve still got one in my purse as a memento), and I thought it could be scary, but it wasn’t.

Sleepy friends
Sleepy friends at 10:00pm

Sunday morning M had to jump on a plane, so R made himself available to us once more, between his morning and evening sermons. The weather really had not cooperated during our visit, and had been rainy and cold the whole time. It perfectly suited Tara’s next request: a visit to the Boston Museum of Science. It’s another place filled with memories. We watched a 4-D movie. Have you done one of those before? It introduces sensations like touch and smell. This movie was not as good as the last one we saw: Polar Express, which blew snow into our faces, bursts of wind blew our hair, the chair shook when the train crashed, and the smell of hot cocoa wafted through when was served on the train.

An enormous grasshopper greets us from the second story of the museum.
An enormous grasshopper greets us from the second story of the museum.
We did like this exhibit. The photography of modernist cuisine. Where things were sliced in half and photographed.
We did like this exhibit: photography of modernist cuisine. Where things were sliced in half and photographed.

The main exhibit was the Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed and I was eager to see it. I could have spent 4 hours in that exhibit alone. It was huge and fascinating, but we simply did not have the time to see everything. My favourite part was when some of the museum staff helped me learn to interpret some of the signs on the tall columns. I learned how ancient Mayans wrote numbers! Just to learn one small thing was very exciting to me. I can read Mayan numbers. Hee.

Reproduction of a Mayan tower. The lights flashed on the side are to help visitors learn to read the petroglyphs.
Reproduction of a Mayan tower. The lights flashed on the side help visitors learn to read the hieroglyphs.
I stood here until I learned to read some of it.
I stood here until I learned to read some of it. The numbers are the places with dots on top of/beside parallel lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tara's birthday was converted to glyphs.
Tara’s birthday was converted to glyphs.
Artwork and tools. This one was very exciting to me, because I guessed the use of the shell sliced in half. Can you guess it?
Artwork and tools. This one was very exciting to me, because I correctly guessed the use of the shell sliced in half. Can you guess it?
A painted vessel
A painted vessel
A gorgeous carving
A gorgeous carving

 

 

 

 

 

Then we hurried off to the airport and in no time were boarding our plane. It was an uncomfortable night flight (I can never sleep while sitting upright), but the reward at the end was being home! We live about 8 minutes drive from the airport, so touching down is synonymous with being home. We snapped the obligatory Portlander-coming-home snapshot of the airport carpet. The Portland Airport Carpet has its own facebook page, can you believe it? Yes, we are a weird city, and we love it. 🙂

Our feet and shadows on the PDX carpet.
Our feet and shadows on the PDX carpet.

8 thoughts on “A taste of Massachusetts

  1. Crystal – There is a whole lot packed into this post and it seems, into your trip also. One thing after the other. Your baseball fans out here are of course pleased that you included the ballpark. It seems that you had a great time.

    The cold and wet prepares you for November and December in your weird town.

    1. Glad you liked the Fenway shots, Bruce! I had the remarkably good luck to have arrived in Boston the summer of 2004. I need not tell you that it was an incredible year for sports fans. I will never forget riding the train the week of the World Series, when games went till 1am and everyone on board could barely keep their eyes open by the evening commute. One guy brought his transistor radio on board (pre-smart phones you see), with the full-on tinfoil around the antenna and everything. He would yell out game updates, since the games started before we all got home. The conductors would then take the news from car to car. I remember once stepping out onto the porch during a game, hearing shouts of glee all through the neighborhood, and running back into the house to see what I missed. It was amazing. Magical. I’ll be a Sox fan forever now. 🙂

  2. You are not going to believe this but of all the wonderful things you shared with us, the thing that sent me to FB was the carpet!! I just spent 10 minutes scrolling through that page and smiling over all of the unique and fun selfies, only to learn that the carpet will be replaced! How great though, that a piece of art will hung in tribute!
    Your trip was jam-packed and fab despite the rain. I chuckled over the cheese that was left behind, the rainy photo outside Fenway, and enjoyed reading about the museum.
    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Isn’t that fb page funny? I’ve purchased one of those carpet pattern T-shirts for Tara for a Christmas present (don’t tell).

      Funny how both you and Bruce mention how much stuff I did on this trip. I was feeling discouraged that we weren’t able to do as much as I had hoped, but you guys are helping me to see it from a different angle. Compared to staying home and catching up on email, it was a truly action-packed time!

      AND, I completely forgot to mention the snow on Sunday morning, which had me so excited, and spotting a wild turkey in the lawn around M’s apartment.

  3. The description of Polar Express 4D sounds pretty cool. I generally don’t get much out of a 3D movie because of an eye operation I had as a kid. My eyes don’t binoculi. In the older 3D’s, I’d see the green and red highlights. The newer ones just end up blurry for me. By adding the 4th D, I’d at least get to feel and smell the movie, LOL

    1. I’m with you on the 3D, and avoid them when I can. I mostly just get a headache, and end up taking off the glasses 20 minutes in. The Polar Express was my favourite, but on this trip we saw one about deep sea creatures. The chair buzzed when we got close to electric eels, and sharp bursts of wind hit our legs when there were piles of eels, so it felt like they were slithering against us. Each time the shot went to the waves at the surface, we got a mist of water in our face.

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