Over the weekend, the family returned to visit the he Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, a place I’ve visited dozens of times over the course of my life, and enjoyed by previous generations of my family as well. This was a unique visit for three reasons:
It was the first ever visit for my daughter Kay
It was the first time we visited on two consecutive days
It was the first time we visited as members!
The membership was a gift of my mother, who having moved to a new home in walking distance of the zoo is ready to visit the zoo again and again with her children and grandchildren.
I’m not someone you will often find at a college football game, but I got free tickets from work (full disclosure: my employer has a football team) and my son enjoys going to sporting events of any kind. So on September 26, Peter & I made our way to Harvard Stadium to see the Crimson take on Brown. A few years back, we saw Harvard run up the score in a torrential downpour against Holy Cross. For this game, the weather was crisp and clear, a perfect autumn night, but Harvard still ran up the score.
I may not be a big fan of football, but I love historic sporting venues and seeing a game in Harvard Stadium is a treat (when it’s not raining). It was also nice to be there when a lot of other fans were present for the atmosphere, including a large number of students who we first saw having a rowdy tailgate in the parking area. Unfortunately, with the score 37-0 at halftime, most of the other spectators departed, making it feel very lonely in the cavernous stadium. After the game, kids were invited on the field and Peter got autographs from a couple of Harvard players which was pretty cool.
Maybe I’ll do this again in another three years.
Refs in the zone.
Peter tries to identify the players.
Harvard defense prevents Brown from scoring.
The band’s half time show was full of painfully bad jokes.
No Brown players will be going in here.
Soldiers Field panorama
The Harvard dance squad does a quick show between quarters.
On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Boston, my family and I visited the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to experience the monumental work of art As If It Were Already Hereby Janet Echelman. At first it felt underwhelming, pretty, but smaller than expected. But as I walked under and around the sculpture I couldn’t help but notice how it interacts with sun and sky, buildings and trees, always changing even with a small change of perspective. So I took a ton of pictures. You can see them below, but definitely check it out in person.
I made another first time in a long time visit to a Boston institution with a day out at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Unlike the Museum of Fine Arts, there is only one work of art at the Gardner Museum, a collaboration of Mrs. Gardner and thousands of painters, sculptors, designers, architects, and gardeners. This was my first visit since the opening of the new Renzo Piano wing, which is impressive, but seems mostly a utilitarian annex to the historic museum. It was also the first time I’ve been to the museum since photography is allowed, although only of the courtyard on the main level. Plenty of scofflaws took photos from the upper levels too, but were only stopped by the guards when using flash. I followed Mrs. Gardner’s preference of immersing myself in the art and beauty.
Lemon tree in the greenhouse
Two paths diverge in the Monk’s Garden
Here, photographs are encouraged
The central courtyard
Odysseus peers into the courtyard
Steel supported glass roof, a modern innovation for the classic museum
On our last day in New York, we visited the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo. This was a second visit for Peter, a couple of dozen visits for me, and countless more for my mother. In short, the zoo is a place we all love. Highlights include seeing baboons and ibex on hillside, sunning lions and giraffes, baby gorillas galore, and the flitter-flutter of the butterfly garden.
A highlight of any visit to New York is to stroll across the famed suspension bridge to Brooklyn. I did this for the first time as a child over 30 years ago when the bridge was mobbed with people heading to an Irish festival in Brooklyn. I’ve been back a half-dozen times since and generally it’s been serene. But on this occasion, the first time for my son, it was as crowded as my first time even though there seemed to be no special event.
Spring descended on Jamaica Plain this past weekend with the annual Wake Up the Earth Festival presented by Spontaneous Celebrations. This was the 35th annual festival, an event that grew out of the “highway revolt” of the 1960s & 70s when local activists opposed the construction of highway infrastructure in Jamaica Plain & Roxbury, leading to the creation of the Southwest Corridor as a system of train lines, bike paths, and parks that we enjoy today. Ironically, some people who want to create new prioritized highway infrastructure for cars marched in this year’s parade which I guess shows that this festival takes all kinds. The festival itself was home to many tents of activists of many causes, food, games, and musical performances. My family and I sang a few songs with the intergenerational chorus SingPositive, JP in preparation for our concert on May 19th. We also danced to Maaak Pelletier’s jam band the Mystical Misfits as they played Grateful Dead classics. Finally, the potato sack slide down the hillside was great fun for everyone.
My son and I journeyed to the Ecotarium for Free Fun Fridays. The Ecotarium is a science museum surrounded by outdoor compound including nature trails, animal exhibits, a playground, and even a train ride. We had a great time with the only downside being that my parochial Bostonian view found the drive to Worcester a bit too long.
Yesterday, my son Peter and I attended a Mass United FC soccer game for the first time. Mass United is plays in the National Premier Soccer League, which is the fourth level on the United States soccer pyramid (which I guess would be equivalent to A-league in baseball terms). The game was sparsely attended but this did not seem to bother my son one whit as he watched all 90 minutes and cheered “Go United Go!!!” the whole time. The other fans seemed more amused than annoyed, so who was I to curb his enthusiasm. Sadly, Mass United loss to the New York Red Bulls academy team 1-2. The Red Bulls’ goals in the first half came on embarrassing lapses by the United defense, but the United goal in the second half came on a beautiful bicycle kick. Since Peter enjoyed the game so much, we’ll have to go again although most games start at 7 pm which may be rough on a 4 year old. Maybe next season?
Over Memorial Day Weekend, I enjoyed a two-city, two-team, two-day baseball double header. On Sunday, I traveled down to New York to see R.A. Dickey and the Mets take on the San Diego Padres in the good company of some of my Mets fan friends. The next day, my son Peter & I went to Fenway Park for the Red Sox victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Today I enjoyed another special Boston By Foot tour focusing on Boston Common and the Public Garden. Our guide taught us a lot about the history of these two great public places, their features, and many works of public art. It was a wet day, maybe not the best time to enjoy the parks, but on the plus side I got to take lots of pictures without people getting in the way.
My son and I attended Woolapalooza today, Drumlin Farm’s celebration of all things pertaining to sheep. We saw one man working hard with the shears to remove the wool of many sheep quickly and skillfully. It was surprise that there wasn’t a team of people using electric shearing tools, but he got the job done (although we did see one sheep in the meadow with a big boo-boo from the shears). We were also impressed by the sheepdog demonstrations as a border collie expertly herded a small flock around the pasture. This made an impression since we recently watched Babe. The only pig at the farm was a large, pregnant sow named Hattie sleeping in the pig shed. There were many pregnant ewes as well as new-born lambs and kids. It was a fun day and made for some good photographs.
Susan, Peter & I took a daytrip by commuter rail to Salem a week ago Sunday. It was a fun adventure, especially for our three-year old train fanatic who looked out the window and narrated our journey all the from North Station to Salem.
Our first stop was lunch at Reds Sandwich Shop where the friendly waitresses (and customers) doted on Peter and the plates were full of tasty food. Next stop was the Peabody Essex Museum. After getting admonished by a guard for standing too close to the maritime art we went to the family-friendly, hands-on Art & Nature gallery. Here there was the art of optical illusions, toys, puzzles, books, and a build your own bird station among other treats. I was able to explore some of the other galleries and was impressed by the mix of American and Asian fine arts and decorative pieces, deliberately overlapping to show the cross-pollination of cultures in Salem’s history. Particularly impressive was the FreePort [No. 001] exhibit in the East India Marine Hall where a staid gallery of ship’s models and figureheads is transformed by animations projected on all surfaces. The video below should give the essence of the experience but one really needs to walk into the room for the full effect.
The PEM is an impressive museum and there was a lot more to see – including a special exhibit of Dutch art – but we were all pretty tired by then. As a special treat for good behavior in the museum I took Peter to Ye Olde Pepper Candy Company, reputedly America’s oldest candy story. Peter picked out a package of gummy fish and we ate them on the wharf overlooking historic houses and ships. Salem is a charming town and has a quite to bit to offer especially if you can avoid the cheezy witchcraft exploitation industry.
We had a light supper and then caught a double-decker commuter train back to Boston which made it double exciting.