I've exchanged dollars for pounds and euros, updated my passport, and packed and repacked my bags (the editing process in packing has been a bit of a problem for me, to say the least). And tomorrow I am off to London! We are traveling all over England, Scotland, and France.
I'm looking forward to taking zillions of photos, connecting with my past, traveling with an amazing friend, and exploring all new places.
Au revoir for now!
Posted by Alyson (New England Living) at 4:57 PM
When I was in Boston about two weeks ago, it was so beautiful it almost hurt. Have you ever felt that? The beauty that surrounds you is so abundant and overflowing that you almost can't take it? I don't know, perhaps I'm just a bit strange, but when I see beauty like that, at every turn, emotions cannot be suppressed and I have been known to well up with tears in such circumstances, and I did on that day.
Boston's incomparable architecture mixed with the brilliant green and bright color of an east coast spring is a combination that hit me and made my spirit weak in gratitude for the day.
Even on our walk to the Boston Marathon bombing memorial in Copley Square, each tree, each plant was singing with new life, blossoming in breathtaking beauty.
When we reached the memorial, I was hit with a different kind of beauty.
This is a makeshift memorial, which means it was done, and continues to be added to, by ordinary people. People just wanting to pour out their love, mourning, and support. Various symbolic objects are left by many.
A place set aside for the four fatal victims.
It's beautiful. So much beauty, it hurts.
A board and pens left so everyone can leave a message.
A closer look at the memorials for the four victims who were fatally wounded.
News vans still surrounded Copley Square
Tulips in front of Trinity Church, which overlooks the memorial.
More flowers by Trinity church in Copley Square.
An almost unbearably beautiful day, and I wouldn't have missed it for anything.
Posted by Alyson (New England Living) at 10:02 AM
Almost from the moment I heard that bombs went off in Boston, I had a strong urge to go there. It's not far, and we go into the city at least once a month, and I just wanted to be there. I'm not sure why the urge was so strong and insistent in me. It was almost like someone I loved had been hurt and I wanted to see them. It really was something akin to hearing a family member or dear friend was in the hospital, and all you want to do is visit immediately and make sure they are fine, to reassure yourself and to show them your love. That's what it felt like.
Of course I couldn't go right away. The city, for all intents and purposes, was shut down. Then the manhunt the friday after had the city in lockdown. I decided to wait until Boylston Street was re-opened. It was well over a week before it was. We went into Boston only a day or two after Boylston was opened.
We had lunch at the Prudential building and then walked to the bomb sites.
The site of the first bomb blast.
The Boston Marathon finish line.
The feeling I had in the bomb site areas was very mixed. There was sadness, and a feeling of reverence. My own eight year old, so alive and full of energy, stood with me, not far from where another eight year old had lost his life. That realization brought tears to my eyes. I also grew uncomfortable when I realized that evil had stood where I stood. Two people, with unmerciful evil in their hearts, walked where I now walked only a week and a half earlier. It was chilling.
News interviews being conducted in Copley Square. News trucks and reporters were all over the area.
But after the initial rush of emotion and sadness, I felt hope. Boston Strong signs were everywhere (I even picked up my own Boston Strong t-shirt, proceeds going to the Boston One fund). Everyone was pouring in to Boylston to patronize the shops and restaurants that had been greatly affected by the bombings and the subsequent closures during the investigation. This was a people that was supporting one another and supporting the city we all love.
Spring has always been symbolic of hope, of fresh starts. And it was felicitous, in the aftermath, that Boston was blooming and blossoming with the sort of impossible beauty that only a perfect spring can bring.
Old South Church on Boylston St
A sight on our walk to the Boston Public Garden
I love the city in bloom!
We walked over to the Boston Public Garden, and it was breathtaking. The garden is a stunning oasis in the city, and I can't imagine that it ever prettier than it is in the spring.
Tulips in front of Washington.
The famous swan boats
The bright greens of spring
Another view of Washington
Townhouses and blossoms
A pretty, pink tree by the pond
Blossoming near the door of a townhouse
Spring came late this year, but it did finally come, in more ways than one. And I'm so glad I got back into Boston so soon after and saw my favorite city vibrant, lively, and beautiful. Just the way I always think of my beloved Boston.
(My husband and I went back to Boston only a week after this visit, without the kids to visit the Copley Square memorial and to see the gardens in even greater bloom. I'll post about that next week.)
Posted by Alyson (New England Living) at 2:15 PM
It's been quite awhile since I've done an edition of Around the Village, and since spring has turned my sleepy, little village into a kaleidoscope of bright color, I thought it was about time to do another.
My husband and I took a walk through the village on Thursday afternoon. It was warm, bordering on hot, really, and bright not only in sunshine, but also in stunning color. I'm keeping my words to a minimum in this post, and instead will let the photos do most of the talking.
A blooming tree
Church steeple with the bright, light green of spring foliage.
And have I mentioned we have an old, colonial whipping post in our village green? Well, we do. Those colonials, apparently, didn't mess around. There used to be a pillory here as well.
ye olde whipping post
View from within the green
Spring has sprung at this village home
Another village home
Spring at the old schoolhouse
Behind this village home, you can see the church steeple. I love seeing the yellow wreaths on so many village doors.
A very bright time of year in the village
Another village beauty with its spring wreath
Flowers in my own yard. I love being a part of the vibrant village community.
Wouldn't you love to peek behind that door?
Well, that's spring around here! Today I am spending some time in Boston again. I was there last week too. Can't seem to get enough of that place, especially at this beautiful time of year, and will write about it next week. Hope you all have a beautiful weekend!
Posted by Alyson (New England Living) at 9:30 AM
April 19th is a date that has always stuck in my mind. It's one of those dates that became forever imprinted in some deep, dark brain fold during my sophomore year's American history class. Not only does it happen to be my youngest daughter's birthday, but as a history buff, the date also marks the first battle of the Revolutionary War. The start of it all, when the colonists finally took that irretrievable step into war. This was the Battles of Lexington and Concord. This was the battle that sparked Emerson's quote "the shot heard 'round the world." This was the battle that begun with Paul Revere's famous ride. This was the battle that essentially was the start of the United States of America.
The small local holiday of Patriot's Day is to commemorate that battle. It was a little known holiday outside our region, little known that is, until April 15th, 2013. Patriot's Day is always celebrated on the third Monday in April, and the third Monday in April always falls on the day of the Boston Marathon. The fact that the Boston Marathon bombing took place on the day that we celebrate the start of our nation, the day we celebrate those heroes who put their lives at great risk because of what they considered tyranny did not escape me. It was the first thing I thought of, actually. The two man group of terrorists chose a day that we celebrate our freedom, our way of life, bought for in blood.
We live only a short drive from Concord and I like to be down in the Concord and Lexington area on April 19th, though not the official Patriot's Day holiday, it is the actual anniversary. This April 19th was like no other, well except perhaps a little like the one in 1775. This April 19th was the day of the manhunt. As we all know, one suspect had died the night before and the other was on the loose, hiding. Boston and the surrounding towns of Cambridge and Watertown were in lockdown. People feared he could enter their homes, their cars by force. A true terrorist threat was on the loose.
Our first hint that this manhunt was like nothing we've seen before was when we drove through the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. State troopers and all sorts of police vehicles lined the road. They were on the look out. This guy could be anywhere, and that's when the first small wave of alarm went through me.
All throughout the Boston area were police and military people. It was a comfort, a protection, but it also made the significant danger of the day glaringly obvious, causing no small discomfort. When we went into a restaurant, less than fifteen miles outside of Boston, men in uniforms looked us over, as they did every one who walked through the doors. An enemy, who meant to do us harm, was loose and his whereabouts unknown. Any place where a group of people were gathered, even in small numbers, was a possible target. No one knew if this guy had more bombs or more guns. Everyone around us were scrolling their smartphones, hoping for news of his capture. We were too.
After lunch, we headed to the Minuteman National Park. The MNP is one of my favorite places to visit. You can walk Battle Road, through the woods on wide, dirt paths. Along the route you will see significant places that were at the frontline of the battles, various taverns and homes and places of burial. The same stone fences line the dirt roads that did back then. Being there takes you out of our time. You can imagine the Minutemen chasing the Redcoats all the way down Battle Road til they finally reach Boston. You can almost see the frightened wives and families, watch as their husbands and fathers leave, just hoping the Redcoats wouldn't come in and take over their homes for makeshift hospitals or headquarters. Though you can imagine the fear of that day, the feeling there is tranquil because the outcome is already known to us. Our side won. We are a country today because of that day. When I'm there I feel great peace.
Hartwell Tavern on Battle Road
Old stone wall along path
The fourteen mile marker to Boston Harbor
The day was warm and pleasant, one of those perfect spring days we all dream about on only the harshest and windiest days of winter. We past by many joggers and people walking their dogs. We said our hellos, pretending this was like any other day in the greater Boston area. But of course it wasn't.
Just as I was taking in the beauty of the day, listening to the birds, breathing in the fragrant air, snapping pictures of everything around me, I suddenly heard an almost deafening loud noise. My heart began to beat hard, even before I spotted the source of the sound. I looked up and right above me were two black hawk helicopters. They were so low to the ground that I could easily make out the faces of those inside. I looked around and saw all the others around me had stopped what they were doing as well, and were looking, slack-jawed, up into the sky. We all knew, and the reality of the day came crashing in on all of us. There was someone who sought to take away our ease, comfort, and freedom, and instill fear in his wake, and he could be anywhere. I saw a couple of people head off the path and back to their cars.
My husband and I continued our way down the path. My whole soul felt very quiet, and I felt I was walking on holy ground. Tears sprang to my eyes several times. I thought of those who had died at the marathon and the young officer, shot down in cold blood only a few hours prior. I thought about those who had been injured, whose lives were forever changed. And I thought about how much I love my country, how much I love New England, how much I love Boston.
Though it was warm, the sky was overcast and brought an ominous, foreboding sense to the day.
At one point, I remember asking Russ, "what would you do if you saw that guy here, that suspect?" I don't even remember what he said in response. My mind was suddenly acutely aware that there could be danger lurking near, behind that stone wall or behind that tavern. Or could he be behind the brush, behind a grove of trees.
Home of Captain William Smith, captain of the Lincoln minutemen, and brother to Abigail Adams.
If these old nails could talk
My own fear of the current events of the day, morphed in this historical place, and I felt for a moment that I could somehow relate to the fear of those who lived along this battle road two hundred and thirty-eight years ago. They didn't know what the outcome would be of their day, and neither did we. It was one of those indescribable moments, when things clicked. History came alive for me in a strange, wonderful, and scary way.
Then a wave of calm came over me. I suddenly felt that everything would be fine. April 19th, 1775 set the stage for our crazy, wonderful country and April 19th, 2013 would not be the end of it. We are still those Americans who took on the formidable British military because we are just that brash, we have always been an idealistic people who believe we were born into this world with inalienable rights. This would be a day that would bring all of us even closer together in purpose and pride. Because isn't that what has always happened? When an outside threat has come into our own borders and wounded and hurt us and caused momentary fear, we always have come back stronger and more united. It happened in 1775. It happened at Pearl Harbor. It happened on 9/11. And it was happening today.
Our momentary fear turns into momentary anger, which then becomes determination and a renewed sense of community and pride and love. And I couldn't help but think, as I wandered on this path, just showing signs of new growth, that winter is always followed by spring.
Posted by Alyson (New England Living) at 11:07 AM