The Beach

I hadn’t been to the beach all summer, until this week. I went to Spectacle Island on Monday. The island is a 15-minute ferry ride from downtown. Luckily I found a strip of beach hidden away, because there were about 15 four-year-olds squealing about swimming at the main beach on the ride over.

It was literally a strip of sand, but that’s all I needed. The rest of the beach was all rocks. It was the perfect weather…not too hot, with a nice breeze. The only sounds were the crashing waves and the wind blowing through the tall grass. For about an hour anyway. Then came the treasure hunters, looking for sea glass and shards of pottery that had washed up on the beach. I have never heard people so excited to find some sea glass.

Today, Linda and Mary and I lounged at Crane Beach and then went berry picking, thanks to the Ipswich Explorer service. We took the commuter rail to Ipswich, where a shuttle bus was waiting to take us to the beach. It is one of the prettiest beaches I have been to in New England. It was another perfect beach day. Not too hot and humid…and we had walked away from the crowds, so it was very peaceful. After a couple of hours of beach time, we got back on the bus and got dropped off at Russell Orchards. We picked our own blueberries, which was great fun. And then power-shopped in the store, since we only had 10 minutes to spare. The store smelled of cider donuts. We picked up more berries, wine, and cider (and Mar bought a very sweet red pitcher) before getting on the bus back to the train station.

Now I’m reveling in a post-beach haze…and looking forward to a glass of blueberry wine.

A View of Boston from Spectacle Island
Perfect Beach Day at Crane's Beach

Pearl Fryar

I’m obsessed with topiaries. I believe it stems from my obsession with the movie Edward Scissorhands. I saw it six times in the movie theater. I love everything about this movie. The story line, the actors, the soundtrack, the set design.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Edward cuts bushes into different shapes, making crazy-ass topiaries. Animals, hands, people. I guess I love the idea of making art out of nature.

I went to the Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, RI, a few years ago, with Daisy and Jeannine. It was AMAZING. Huge giraffes, teddy bears, and camels. And beautiful regular gardens as well.

When I learned recently that there was a documentary about a self-taught topiary artist in South Carolina, I was all over it. A Man Named Pearl came out in 2006. Pearl Fryar is a son of North Carolina sharecroppers. He moved to Bishopville, South Carolina, for a job in a beverage can factory. He was determined to win his town’s “Yard of the Month” award. So he started taking plants that were being thrown out at a nearby nursery, and planting them in his yard. He nurtured them, and started cutting designs in them. And an artist was born.

Pearl’s personality really shines through in the documentary. He is passionate about his work, and has a child-like enthusiasm about it. He and his wife both have a great sense of humor, too. I think he was 66 when the doc was filmed, and he was still out in his yard every day, trimming and planting. And taking busloads of people on tours. People from all over the world visit his yard in tiny Bishopville, South Carolina.

Read more about him on his website. I hope to make it to his garden someday.

Pearl on His Mower (courtesy of
A Section of the Garden (courtesy of

Washington II Washington

I read a sad story with an inspiring epilogue today.

Writer and founder of Found Magazine Davy Rothbart met nine-year-old Emmanuel Durant Jr. in 1990, on a basketball court in D.C. Ten years later, Davy was attending his funeral. Emmanuel died while defending his family from a robbery on December 31, 2009.

To honor Emmanuel’s memory, Davy and some of Emmanuel’s family and friends are taking a group of D.C. and Michigan kids to New Hampshire to climb Mt. Washington. They are hoping to make “Washington II Washington” an annual trip. The inaugural trip is in a few weeks, and they are still short a few thousand dollars. If you can give ANY amount, please consider it! Read all about the young hikers and more at this site!

A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose

Every Tuesday night in the summer, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy invites volunteers to come help weed and prune in the Kelleher Rose Garden in the Back Bay Fens. It is a little oasis in the city, hidden by tall hedges. I think there are more than 100 varieties, and they all have the sweetest names. One name I noticed tonight was “Pillow Fight.”

Here are a few photos I took with my camera phone.

1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts

Earlier this week, the “Great Places Commission” announced its list of 1,000 great places in Massachusetts. With the list, it hopes “to boost visitation to Massachusetts as well as give local residents the opportunity to visit known and unknown historic sites, cultural venues, and natural landscapes.”

I am a sucker for this type of thing. Thanks in part to my birthday lists, I have already been to 53 out of 83 great places in Boston. Out of the 7 great places in Brookline (where I live), I’ve been to 5. Out of 16 great places in Cambridge, I’ve been to 9.

Now I have to finish the list, of course. Any locals care to join?

Now I need to finish the list, of course. The commission fulfilled its mission