R & R In New England

This week, my boyfriend has shown me his New England: Rhode Island (“Rogue’s Island”-how marvelous a nickname is that?) and Boston. It was an amazing trip. I had never seen New England; my boyfriend grew up there. I had the perfect guide. He promised me four things:

  1. Delicious Overload
  2. History Overload
  3. Beauty Overload
  4. Quaint Overload

Friends, he delivered:

L. A. Burdick’s on Clarendon Street in Boston makes the most glorious hot chocolate on the planet. It is like silk: mine was called the Brazil, which is served with a shot of espresso, making it the most luxurious legal addictive stimulant in the civilized world. I drank it while wearing a new hat, purchased at a proper hat shop a couple of blocks down the street. I also had a completely sinful slice of cake, a reward after a full day walking The Freedom Trail.

“Chocolate symbolizes, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality, gratification, and love.” -Karl Petzke

“Chocolate symbolizes, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality, gratification, and love.” -Karl Petzke

One feels very American in Boston.

“Some hats can only be worn if you're willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you're only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.” -Neil Gaiman, _Tha Anansi Boys_

“Some hats can only be worn if you’re willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you’re only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.” -Neil Gaiman, _Tha Anansi Boys_

I began to write this while sitting in my hotel room Friday afternoon in the marvelous Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, while my boyfriend and I let our feet recover a bit: we had walked The Freedom Trail from Copley Plaza to Bunker Hill, and back again with a few necessary stops, as well as a bit of unnecessary wanderings on the return. (They say that trail is two-and-a-half miles long, but that can’t be true. My feet are positive it was at least ten, once we made it there and back.)

One additional stop was Cheers, because if you go to Boston and don’t sit at the bar at Cheers, well, there’s just something terribly wrong, and possible un-American, about that. We stopped at the second-oldest firehouse in the country, where the staff was siting outside shooting the bull with the passers-by. He had a marvelous Boston accent, the kind that made me think, “Oh my God, they really do talk like that here!” We also paused for the aforementioned Necessary Chocolate, bought a hat, and even enjoyed a ride in a bicycle taxi, driven by a student who had a double major in Arabic and Criminal Justice.

Lobster + grilled bun + drawn butter or mayo = Delicious Overload

Lobster + grilled bun + drawn butter or mayo = Delicious Overload

I ate clam chowder and Boston Creme Pie *in Boston*. We enjoyed a lobster roll, fried clams, and clam cakes all of which I am nearly certain will be on the menu in heaven, if there is one. If it turns out there’s not, just go to Evelyn’s: it’s the next best thing:

See? Toldja: the next best thing.

See? Toldja: it’s the next best thing.

We sat on the shores of the Atlantic on a beach my boyfriend knew as a young man. The ocean was a highlight of the trip for me, a marvel of power and beauty and patience and time. It is a gentle raging peace, long-suffering and strong, ever so slowly beating back rough-edged inflexible rock. It appeared eternal, and it affected everything near it: the sky, the land, the air, and me.

“The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities... If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.” -Rachel Carson

“The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities… If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.” -Rachel Carson

While in Rhode Island, my boyfriend and his daughter took me to play duck pin bowling. I didn’t even know there was such a game (it’s a variation of “normal” bowling, with smaller pins and balls), which explains why I was so bad at it. We saw the fascinating modern art wing of the Rhode Island Institute of Design Museum that bears my boyfriend’s mother’s name. We had pizza at Caserta’s and had Del’s Frozen Lemonade, and did not use a straw, because the locals don’t: you lose all the flavor too fast that way. (Oh. My. God. Delish Overload.) And, if you’re not hungry yet, I was served lobster bisque in Faneuil Hall by a Honduran immigrant at the most incredible food court ever on Friday.

We stood in many beautiful dying churches, so many of them key players in our nation’s fight for liberty, including The First Baptist Church in America, located in beautiful Providence, Rhode Island. (I’ll devote another post to the churches; there’s so much to share.)

Founded by Roger Williams in 1638

Founded by Roger Williams in 1638

Our feet walked the entirety of The Freedom Trail and stood in the Old North Church and on the battlefield of Bunker Hill. My boyfriend and I strolled through Newbury Street in Boston, passing history and commerce that mingle together with alarming disregard for the other’s personal space.

"In Medford, I awaked the Captain of the Minute Men; & after that, I alarmed almost every house, till I got to Lexington." -Paul Revere

“In Medford, I awaked the Captain of the Minute Men; & after that, I alarmed almost every house, till I got to Lexington.” -Paul Revere

The view from room 237.  The Boston Public Library is on the left.

The view from room 237. The Boston Public Library is on the left.

Our hotel room has every modern convenience, But the doors were old, heavy and thick with layers of paint, adorned with knobs that looked to be at least 100 years old. I loved that.

As I was writing this on Friday afternoon, outside our room some protesters stood in front of the beautiful Boston Public Library and implored passers by to free Palestine. Boston was very American in its response: street market fruit vendors closed their booths down for the day, and the city headed home for the weekend, occasionally encouraging or antagonizing the protestors.

We had a glorious Italian dinner Friday evening at Ristorante Fiore on the north end of the city, served to us by an Episcopalian priest, and then we smoked an after dinner cigar at Sigari, the only cigar bar in Boston, where we watched the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 5-1. Saturday found us wishing for more time; our trip was over.

Caption reads:"Old North Memorial Garden. Each dog tag honors a fallen member of U.S. Military: Iraq & Afghanistan Wars. May they rest in peace."

Caption reads:”Old North Memorial Garden. Each dog tag honors a fallen member of U.S. Military: Iraq & Afghanistan Wars. May they rest in peace.”

How bizarre and wonderful New England is. It’s a time warp, yesterday and today dancing together so closely. New Audis drive carefully down centuries-old cobblestone streets, joggers in state-of-the-art active-wear run through Boston Common so close to the graves of so many of the founders of our country. There is now a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in the Old City Hall Building. Cable vans sit in front of homes that are two hundred years old, their drivers trying, quite literally, to meld modern convenience to our history. A modern monument to today’s fallen warriors stands quietly on the grounds of the Old North Church.

Rhode Island was quirky, set in her ways, deceptively large despite her small size, and, yes, quaint. Boston was loud, chaotic, historic, rebellious still, and free.

New England is America. The Beautiful.

“You may delay, but time will not.” -Benjamin Franklin

“You may delay, but time will not.” -Benjamin Franklin

“The neighborhood stores are an important part of a city child's life.” -Betty Smith, _A Tree Grows in Brooklyn_

“The neighborhood stores are an important part of a city child’s life.” -Betty Smith, _A Tree Grows in Brooklyn_

 

The beautiful Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel

The beautiful Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel

Catie Copley, the Fairmont's Canine Ambassador, is a trained seeing eye-dog, and quite possibly the most famous dog in Boston.

Caitie Copley, the Fairmont’s Canine Ambassador, is a trained seeing eye-dog, and quite possibly the most famous dog in Boston.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

This entry was posted in America, American History, Architecture, Art, baptist, beauty, Boston, Chocolate, church, Community, Culture, Diversity, Food, Free Speech, Freedom, Liberty, Museums, New England, photography, politics, progress, Rhode Island, Roots, time, Travel, wildflowers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to R & R In New England

  1. I love the ocean. The first time I saw it was on the Oregon coast. I was transfixed. I’ve always thought of it as the heartbeat of the earth. I am so happy to see you enjoying life and love with such vim.

    • rodalena says:

      That is a lovely way to put it: “the heartbeat of the earth.” It was mesmerizing. I hope to go back someday. Hugs to you and yours, dear friend. :)

  2. Although I’ve visited only a few times, for most of my childhood, my cousins’ home in Providence was my “permanent address.” (My dad was in the military.) I could go for a Del’s right about now.

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