Monday, November 18, 2013

Week 11, Part 1: Massachusetts

When we booked a room in Plymouth, Massachusetts, we weren't thinking about the Pilgrims. We just wanted to find an inexpensive Airbnb room that would be within close driving distance of both Cape Cod and Boston. But we were delighted to find ourselves in the beautiful town of Plymouth and to wind our way down the backroads of town to a little secluded property where we stayed in a basement apartment for three nights. Lorna was our host and her house and gardens were beautiful. We were seeing the last of the fall leaves and parked every day under a bright red maple tree. Every morning we'd come out and there'd be a flush of leaves on our truck. We even had a few tucked under the windshield wipers that rode with us to Maine. I think there's still a tiny one clipped under the right wiper now.

View out our apartment, Plymouth
When we opened the door and explored the apartment, I was thrilled by a Chagall print in the hallway--he's my favorite artist. Then in the sitting room was a mandolin (Lorna left me a tuner later and I fooled around with it a little bit.) I'd been threatening to take up mandolin since we saw "The Broken Circle Breakdown" -- and had, a few years ago, taken one mandolin lesson. There was also a print of Titania from "Midsummer Night's Dream," a role I played about a year and a half ago.

That night, at Lorna's recommendation, we went to a local pub for dinner. Larry wandered into the back of the place to see if there was music and saw it set up as a small theater. It was a Monday night, but they were putting on an early show of four one-act plays. Since we'd gotten hooked on going to live theater in New York City, we decided to eat our dinners quickly and pop into the back for the plays. The quality was mixed, but when they were good, they were very good--and we had a good laugh in the end at the comedic works and performances. Before we drove back to the house, we drove down to the waterfront, where the Mayflower II sat, along with Plymouth Rock, which you couldn't see because it was in a tiny enclosed cage. We decided we'd see it another day.

Mayflower II
The next morning, we woke up to our first snow! I love snow and feel like a little girl whenever I see it and ran out into the yard in my pajamas to take it in. We decided to spend the day driving to Provincetown.

One thing I love to do is to go to cities in their off-seasons--I went to New Orleans in August and now Provincetown in the snow. It was mostly closed for the season, but we found a place called the Squealing Pig to get some fish and chips before walking around the nearly deserted town. I thought of my friend, Monica Wesolowska, who had a writing residency at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center for 11 months some years ago, and wondered how many of the the folks strolling around town might be up and coming writers on residency through the fall and winter. I thought of Anthony Bourdain, whose Kitchen Confidential I just read half of and who got his start cooking in Provincetown. A strange little town. My guess is I'd hate it in the summer. I tend to hate throngs of tourists, even lately I'm adding to those numbers wherever I go.

Provincetown Alley

Provincetown, Pilgrim Monument

That night, we went to hear a rockabilly band play at another local restaurant in Plymouth and visited a bit with our host, Lorna. It was a fun night.

The first day we were in town, at a coffee house, we met a local woman whose senior class had dynamited Plymouth Rock on Senior Skip day when she was in high school. She said their class was responsible for the fence around the rock. We were looking forward to seeing the crack they'd made along with some of the older buildings and landmarks. We had no idea that the whole Plymouth Rock thing was more a symbol than a proven thing. It wasn't mentioned in any writings until the 1700's which, unless it was passed down through oral histories, makes it a suspicious story of what the Pilgrims first stepped on.

Notice the crack

Our walk around town was really beautiful. We loved the old buildings and reconstructed mill wheel, the old church and the beautiful cemetery. It was just a lovely town full of history. I have pretty complicated feelings about the history of this country but I still loved the beauty of the town and last of the fall leaves coming down as yesterday's storm had cleared up and the sun was now out offering a late fall day.

Oldest building in Plymouth, early 1600s

The next day, we took a drive to Boston, about an hour away from Plymouth. Neither of us had been to Massachusetts (except Larry was born Wareham but his family left before his first birthday), and this whole trip was way too brief. My mom was born in Massachusetts and I would love to come back to visit her hometown.

We started our day in Boston with a visit to Fenway Park, where we had lunch at the Bleacher Bar, which was the old batting cage at the park. Larry loves baseball and we will come back to Boston for a longer visit, during baseball season!

Then we walked around Boston Common and the Gardens and around the Beacon Hill area. People seemed friendly. The squirrels were also super friendly:

George Washington statue
Beacon Hill neighborhood
Boston Gardens
Beacon Hill neighborhood 
Older Church, Boston
We finished out the night in Boston seeing a movie, "The Dallas Buyers Club," a movie that I'd been really looking forward to seeing and that is really close to my heart. I loved it even if it rattled me quite a bit. We went back to Plymouth for an early night's sleep so we could leave the next day for Maine.

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