When we went up to the seacoast in May last year, the old truss bridge that for 88 years had spanned the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Kittery, Maine had been torn down and a new one was under construction. Yesterday we saw that the new one was not only up and running but there was people walking across -- something I never saw with the old bridge. I don't know if there was no pedestrian walkway before or not, but the new bridge seemed to encourage people on foot or bicycle to cross the river and enjoy the gorgeous views of Portsmouth Harbor.
[Memorial Bridge placque]
Like the old bridge, the new bridge is dedicated to the sailors and soldiers of New Hampshire who participated in WWI. They saved some slabs of granit from the old bridge and put them in a small Veterans Park just before the entrance of the bridge.
[Veterans Park, entrance to the new Memorial Bridge]
It was a beautiful day and we couldn't resist the call to cross and take in the views up the harbor towards the Piscataqua River bridge, which carries Interstate 95 into Maine. The mighty Piscataqua River is a tidal estuary that empties out into the Atlantic east of Portsmouth.
[Piscataqua River, Portsmouth Harbor]
[The view from Kittery, Maine back towards Portsmouth, NH]
Oddly, on the other side of the bridge in Kittery, we found tied up to a little dock the Niña and the Pinta, or "the most authentic replicas" thereof (according to a sailor manning the parking lot) of Columbus' sailing ships that "discovered America." We didn't go on board.
[Niña and Pinta, in Kittery]
The Memorial Bridge is still a working truss bridge, or lift bridge, and we had to wait before walking back while the counterweights dropped and the center span of bridge lifted to allow a sailboat with a tall mast to pass. It lifted again after we'd crossed back and watched from Prescott Park.
[Memorial Bridge, lifted for sailboat passing]
Anyway, it was a lovely, if too brief, visit to Portsmouth. We'll have to go back soon.
The sun was toasty, but the stiff breeze off the water cut right through. It takes a long time for the ocean to warm up, and it was not quite June yet - summer still officially 3 weeks away. Still, we'd taken the no. 9 bus from Copley Square out to City Point on a sunny Saturday and we were going to stay and enjoy the scenery.
[So. Boston Yacht Club flags]
The scenery is always magnificent -- windsurfers on Pleasure Bay, the blue harbor sparkling off Castle Island and dotted with white sails and ships, jets coming in low (and loud) to land just across the harbor at Logan airport (a magnificent view from the planes as well, as I remember well).
[Boston Harbor off Castle Island]
The bus ride out and back are ever fascinating, at least to us as we're complete tourists in Southie even though it's just another neighborhood of Boston. We took the no. 10 bus back, which like the no. 9 bus returns to Copley Square but by a different, slightly longer route, allowing us to gawk at locally famous (or infamous) sights and at the presence of big box stores just outside our usual tight city confines.
[No. 10 bus surveillance cam display]
[Glimpses of the neighborhoods from the no. 10 bus]
While out on Castle Island, we ate delicious hot dogs and french fries at Sullivan's take-out stand (est. 1951), a time-honored tradition though I'd never been before as there are usually long lines. But there was no wait as the summer hordes hadn't yet arrived. Then we walked around Fort Independence and back along the Harborwalk, skipping the causeway that seals a ring around Pleasant Bay because it was too chilly and we hadn't dressed warmly enough. We passed the old yacht clubs and then the Curley Community Center, formerly known as the L Street Bathhouse, built by then-mayer James Michael Curley in 1931 as a place for the city's working people to enjoy hot showers and recreation during hard times.
[At the Curley Center, formerly the L Street Bathhouse @1931]
Finally, before heading back home, we stopped in at the Local 149 gastropub, one of the area's newer establishments catering to the young professional clientele moving in (and pricing out the old Irish working class). We'd been at the Local once before and loved it - great beer and excellent food. This time we each had a pint of good local craft beer and split an excellent pepperoni pizza (they had a limited menu as we were too late for brunch and too early for dinner). Then off to find the bus.
[Log Cabin Sunshine and Shadows quilt (1870s), MFA-Boston; 5/24/14]
Above is one of my favorite quilts from the wonderful Quilts and Color exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I just love the way the "shadows" are created with darker pieces of cloth continuing the "sunshine" pattern. See Lorianne's blog post from our visit. And my set of photos here.
[Striped tulips, Boston Public Garden; 5/24/14]
D and I went out to see the lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum, having skipped the annual Lilac Sunday (traditionally on Mother's Day) because the lilacs weren't open yet. Instead of being too early, we were a bit too late as most of the lilacs were spent by this weekend, although a few were still in fragrant bloom. It was still a beautiful day (see a few pix from the visit here).
[Bluebells in lilac shadows, Arnold Arboretum, Boston; 5/25/14]
From the Arboretum, we decided to have a late lunch, or I guess an early dinner, on the waterfront. So we took the T over to the Seaport, had some good Mexican food (indoors since it got chilly, but alas in an overly noisy and understaffed eatery), then walked back along the harbor. When it's stays light so long it's easy to forget it's getting late.
[Seaport World Trade Center, South Boston; 5/25/14]
[Boston Fish Pier, 100 years old this year; 5/25/14]
Almost 37,000 flags were planted on Boston Common this weekend in honor of as many Massachusetts men and women who have died serving their country from the Revolutionary War to the present. The shadow side of the holiday weekend.
Forecasts for much of the upcoming long Memorial Day weekend (aka, the customary start of summer in this region) have changed to unsettled. Earlier predictions were for sunny and dry, so we've persisted in that rosy belief, even yesterday at work repeating - a beautiful weekend ahead! A peek at the forecast this morning shows the even meteorologists trying to be rosy - they say "improving" weather.
[Massachusetts Ave Bridge, at ~20 smoots; 5/18/14]
It won't keep us from venturing out - on foot, as we're determined to avoid the annual spike in traffic over the weekend (it started yesterday as the stretch of highway I usually take on my way home from work was a slow-moving parking lot - I drove back roads instead). We rather appreciate the holiday exodus from the city of at least some of the visitors and residents that have crammed the sidewalks and cafes since spring sprung. I'm also looking forward to getting together with a couple of my gal pals on Saturday afternoon for some art and cocktails, neither of which requires sunshine.
[Charles River, towards MIT; 5/18/14]
A 50-50 chance of rain on Sunday just means we'll bring an umbrella when we head out. And Monday looks to be the pick of the weekend - sunny, warm and dry.
For those of you in the US, have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend! And, of course, a lovely weekend wherever you are.
Instead of the forecasted rainy Saturday, the wet weather stalled west of us and we were treated with a fine spring day in the city. D and I first stopped by the Church of the Covenant sanctuary, where a friend of D's was working as a docent for the church's stunning interior with 42 Tiffany windows plus a lantern from 1893. I've visited many beautiful cathedrals in my travels, in Mexico and in France, but we have some handsome, historic churches right here in Boston. I uploaded a few photos of the Tiffany windows at the Church of the Covenant here.
[Tiffany glass, Church of the Covenant, Boston; 5/17/14]
Next, D and I thought we'd take in some live music at Earth Fest over by the river on the Esplanade, but we were inexplicably turned away at the pedestrian bridge after getting wrist bands strapped on us by security just before the bridge. Not just us, of course, but others in line - waved away and told to try at the next entrance several blocks back. Rather than risk walking all the way back only to go through the same thing at that entrance, we decided to skip it and go have brunch up at at Irish pub on Beacon Hill. After our pints and pub food, we headed over to the North End and then the waterfront to enjoy the long day's light, with nowhere else we had to be.
Yes, the daffodils and tulips have come up and the magnolias blossomed and the delicate green of spring has been breaking out all over. But it's still been mostly chilly and damp -- until this weekend. Yesterday was warm and humid in Boston, but today was the prize, the day we've been waiting for. Mid-70s (F) and dry, sunny with a light breeze. Perhaps Mother Nature was feeling magnanimous on this Mothers Day, sharing her joyous spring bounty
[Dappled light, Public Garden; 5/11/14]
The Public Garden in Boston was teeming with people today, many families out with their moms, dressed up from brunch at one of the local eateries or dressed down to picnic or stretch out on the fresh green grass. Everyone had cameras, from cellphones to iPads to professional-size gear. One young couple spotted me with my little point-and-shoot and handed me their iPhone to snap a photo of them sitting together behind a row of bright yellow tulips. Many surrounded the exuberantly blooming cherry trees like paparazzi, which reminded me of the crowds last year at Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum. Alas, although Lilac Sunday was held today as every year on Mothers Day, the lilacs were reportedly a little late to bloom this year (some were supposed to have started opening, but they are usually all in full blossom by the second Sunday in May).
[Cherry blossoms, Public Garden; 5/11/14]
It's forecast to be very warm tomorrow, but then back down into the 50's on Tuesday, with cloudy and unsettled weather the rest of the week. So we'll just have to savor the perfect day we had today. It may be a long time before we see another one like it.
[Wellesley College Botanic Garden greenhouse; 3/8/2014]
Feeling a bit like an old crank myself this morning. Tired, my joints rusty and hard to get moving. Snow is falling outside, with a wind chill of 5°F (-15C). I gingerly navigated the icy steps and walkway to put the trash out this morning; it felt like the frozen tundra, even though the snowbanks are finally shrinking with recent sun and above freezing temperatures. Some days have been well above freezing -- on Saturday it reached the mid-50s. D and I made the most of the day and took a ride out to visit the greenhouses at the Wellesley College Botanic Gardens, which housed some lovely spring blooms.
[Tulips, daffodils and hyacinth in the greenhouse]
While we are enjoying longer days, winter clings, its icy fingers lingering even as shoots of early bloomers inch their way through the topsoil in some of the warmer spots. This freezing weather can only last so long, we tell ourselves over and over again on frigid days like today. We've seen the melt, felt the warmth break through, breaking apart winter's lock.
[Outdoors at the Wellesley Botanic Gardens]
As for me, I'm still trying to get the old crank turning again. It was hard to get any exercise this winter with the long days of work and icy walkways. Inertia usually won. I got myself to a local gym on Tuesday, but only for a tour and to use my discount coupon before it ran out. One month's guest pass. Now to get myself there for actual use of the facilities or classes. It was nice big place, all ages and not all hard bodies. They have yoga classes and water aerobics, eliptical machines to move the muscles including the heart without pounding the joints. One turn of the crank at a time...
We changed our reservations to earlier since many diners were cowed by the predicted blizzard with up to a foot of heavy snow. But Mother Nature changed her mind and kept further south, dropping only 4 or 5 inches of snow in the city. Anyway, we only had to walk one snowy block away, opening an alley door into Mexican warmth.