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A break in Boston

July 20, 2008 pm31 6:45 pm

It doesn’t count as a real vacation, but I’ve spent the last few days outside Boston. Brief descriptions today, pictures to follow (when I force myself?)

Coolidge Reservation on Cape Ann north of Boston has a magnificent lawn over the ocean. It was about 10 minutes walk through thin woods and marsh, and then it just opened up. Worth a separate trip? No. But if you are anywhere nearby…

The Saugus Iron Works were briefly the largest industrial establishment in North America. Water wheels, dams, tree trunks for drive shafts. Chunks of iron for pegs for pumping bellows… This is iron production at a scale that both counts as industrial, but also small enough to get a feel for what actually happened (“the wheels turn in the same direction, but this cog reverses…”) It’s a national park now. Should not have waited so long to visit.

The Peabody-Essex Museum… hmm… I didn’t quite get a handle on this. It’s in Salem. It displays goods associated with sea trade, including artifacts from India, East Asia, Oceania… There’s American crafts. There’s a merchant’s house from south China, taken apart, shipped, reassembled in Salem… I think there was a sea captains’ association that worked like a country club, and that they started storing some of their acquired oddities, antiquities, and curiosities. But I still can’t figure how it became a museum. Anyhow, they did major expansions in the last ten years, much associated with the acquisition of the Chinese house (in use, in China, until the 1990’s). Good signage, books for picking up and looking through, comfortable seating areas in each room, lots of special exhibits, good stuff for kids. I would go back.

Breakheart Reservation. Reminded me of Rockefeller Park. Nice smooth road for walking, buried in woods, little lake for swimming, I don’t know how easy the side trails are, but I would guess in the same nature walk territory. Entirely easy, entirely peaceful, entirely pleasant.

Almost 20 games of scrabble. Way too much, but, what can I do? It’s social. Tried to open a bicycle lock (4 number combination) – ran through all 10,000 settings, and either I went too fast, or the lock is damaged (looked possible). Meeting a former student in a little bit in Harvard Square, and then back home…

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