The setting sun lights up Boston’s landmark architecture on my bike ride home on Friday, September 11, 2015.
Archive for the ‘Boston Life and Culture’ Category
The Freedom Trail may be the most hackneyed of Boston tourist destinations, but it’s still worth it for a resident to take a walk on it every so often. And taking my children on the walk for the first time, I got to see it through their eyes. Plus, there are always some surprises, like a pop-up concert by the Handel and Haydn Society at King’s Chapel (which entranced my daughter).
This last week of summer in which there is no school and no camp, I’m taking my children to be tourists in their own home town. When I asked them what they wanted to do, they both agreed that they wanted to go on a whale watch. This made me cringe because I’ve been on whale watches twice in my life and found the experience underwhelming.
Well, third times a charm, because in addition to enjoying a cruise with two enthusiastic children, we saw a lot of whales! We saw a mother humpback whale and her calf, and even witnessed them nursing. We saw a whale practicing “kick feeding” a practice unique to the humpbacks of the Gulf of Maine, and it turned out to be the whale who invented this type of feeding. We saw her calf imitating her, and it was very cute. We also saw minke whales and a blue shark.
I think what made it extra special is that on the long journey back to port, the naturalist came through the ship to talk about the whales we witnessed, showed us pictures, and had the kids flip through binders to see if they could help identify the whales by the patterns on their flukes. We took the New England Aquarium Whale Watch through Boston Harbor Cruises. I highly recommend it.
Join me and several other talented Boston By Foot walking tour guides as we lead a special Tour of the Month of Roxbury Highlands. The tour begins at 2 pm on Sunday, August 30 at Roxbury Crossing station on the MBTA Orange Line.
We start in the Stony Brook valley and work our way uphill and through history to the top of Fort Hill, passing through Roxbury’s colonial town center at Eliot Square along the way. Learn how Roxbury went from early colonial settlement to strategic military location to bucolic suburb to immigration destination to one of Boston’s densest neighborhoods. See Roxbury Highlands continue to transform with ongoing restoration and new construction.
The full description of the tour is on the Boston By Foot website where you can also pre-order tickets!
The Roxbury Highlands tour explores a remarkable neighborhood. Our tour travels through the center of colonial Roxbury: Eliot Square, where the First Church proudly stands as the oldest wooden church in Boston. The Highlands flourished in the mid-19th century as a garden suburb with many pear and apple orchards. There was even an apple named after the area – the Roxbury Russet. We will see wonderful Greek Revival and Victorian houses along our route and discuss some of the amazing individuals who called this area home including Edward Everett Hale – author of The Man Without a Country, and Louis Prang – who printed the first Christmas cards in America. Finally, we finish on top of the hill at the Roxbury Standpipe, in a lovely park which occupies the location of the Roxbury High Fort. Come explore with us!
More photos from the 2007 tour to whet your whistle for Sunday.
On my second visit to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I began a slow and studious exploration of the Art of the Ancient World. I had trouble making a connection with the art at first as there seemed to be no story linking them together. Galleries adjacent to one another held Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, and Roman art. Thousands of years, and thousands of miles, and thousands of cultures side by side. But I did make a connection looking at the sculptures of ancient people and gazing into their eyes. When face to face with a person it is hard to maintain eye contact, but here I could look into the eyes of humans who lived millennia ago and they had so much to say. One Greek sculpture, Woman from a funerary monument, almost looked alive in her expression of grief.
To mix things up, I moved on to the Contemporary Art collections. Ancient art memorialized people and honored gods, but contemporary art asks you questions. The descriptions, the writing on the wall, even the art itself ask questions. Art here is more a reflection of the viewer, literally in the case of Untitled (Shu-red). I spent more time that I should be willing to admit trying to take a selfie in its lacquered surface and finding myself delightfully disoriented. Art also asks the tough questions, like “Why?” and “How can we let this happen?” A sobering gallery collects artists’ responses to the 2011 earthquake in Japan. The photographs and film here capture more pain and poignancy than any other news report.
There’s still much more to see and experience at the MFA, so I hope I return soon.
On June 7th, I rode in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon for the third time. I seem to participate every year, although it’s such a lovely event for a great cause that I need to commit to doing it annually. I was joined by children Kay, who rode in to co-pilot’s seat, and Peter, who pedaled his own bike for the ten-mile ride. The three of us were able to raise $615 which was part of the record $209,280 raised by a record 866 riders! Our donation page is still open to receive more contributions should you be so inclined
When we first arrived at the starting point near Stony Brook station, we saw lots of bikes with brooms sticking off the back. I thought maybe I’d missed out on a theme for the ride, but it turned out this was a fleet of bikes for a team called The Golden Sneetches. After checking-in and eating breakfast, we got on line to start the ride and found ourselves behind our nextdoor neighbors who were also festively attired. Note to self: wear a costume next time.
The Bikes Not Bombs staff introduced our ride, warning us that there were steep uphills early on as we headed away from Jamaica Plain, but we’d be rewarded with a nice long downhill after the rest area. The hills were tough for Peter who rides a single-gear Schwinn. He complained about having to go up so much and asked repeatedly when we’d get to the rest area, but persevered and kept on pedaling. Another wrench in the works was that near the halfway point of the ride, we ended up running into a charity 5K run! A person from that other event insisted that we bike down a side street meaning that myself and a number of Golden Sneetches had to navigate a new route on the fly.
At last we made it to the rest area in Brookline and refreshed by orange slices and Gatorade, were able to carry on with the rest of the ride. Not only was it mostly downhill, but Peter began to recognize the streets of Brookline as being close to home. We pedaled past Allandale Farm and the Arboretum and back into central Jamaica Plain to finish the ride. The kids received medals and we ate some lunch and played for a while before heading home for a much-needed. Well, the kids were still full of energy, so they played with Mom while I napped.