Last winter was a mild one by Maine standards, but that doesn’t make it any less of a joy to see spring finally and fully here. At that, perhaps I’m being a little optimistic as we’re still being warned not to plant anything but pansies yet because of the still-present danger of frost. And yet….from my office window I see sunlight glinting off the water much later in the day and lobstermen who have been on shore all winter happily heading out again, their boats piled high with traps.
It’s amazing how much things can change in just ten days or so. Just in the short time since Easter, daffodils have bloomed, tulips are up (except for those that the deer ate–sigh), and lilies-of-the-valley, my favorite of all the spring flowers, are popping through the ground. In another week the first of the seasonal shops and restaurants will open and a new cycle will begin. Our little island village of some 100 year-round residents will be bursting at the seams with summer residents and visitors who stumble upon us at the end of the peninsula. It’s always fun to see them arrive and always reminds me how isolated life must have been out here before cars, the Internet, and social media made it possible to stay in touch wherever you live. The foundation for one of Maine’s great old summer resorts is on my property and I think about the “rusticators” who, early in the 20th century, took the long steamer ride from Boston to spend the summer season here. They’d be amazed at how much things have changed, I suppose, but perhaps also surprised at how much has stayed the same — fishing boats chugging out to sea, the island’s little white church still the center of the island’s social as well as spiritual life, old lilacs starting to bud, and eagles soaring overhead. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure I haven’t made it all up.
Here’s a little information for all those eager for the start of baseball season in New England. As you may know, this month Fenway Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary, making it the oldest professional baseball park in the country. It’s a beautiful old park that you should visit if you travel to Boston this year. Tours of the park are available if you can’t snag game tickets. Here are some useful links: For anniversary events, go to fenwaypark100.com; for general information about the Sox, go to boston.redsox.mlb.com; and for help with planning a Boston trip, go to bostonusa.com.
Did you know that the first game at Fenway on April 20 a century ago pitted Boston against the NY Highlanders — who became the NY Yankees a year later? Boston won 7-6, kicking off an intense rivalry that exists to this day.
As promised, here are some of my favorite Boston hotels. I can highly recommend each one of them.
Fairmont Copley Plaza: fairmont.com/copleyplaza. Gorgeous historic hotel in the heart of Copley Square. Warm and friendly staff.
Hotel Commonwealth: hotelcommonwealth.com. Located in Kenmore Square within walking distance of Fenway Park, this great, modern hotel fills up fast when the Sox are in town, so book early.
Omni Parker House: omnihotels. com. An old favorite with sports luminaries because it is discreet and quiet, so you just might catch a favorite player having dinner here. Steps from Boston Common and the Freedom Trail and home of the famous Boston Cream Pie (they even serve it at breakfast) and Parker House Roll.
Old Dame Boston is kicking off her winter boots right now, and it’s a great time to visit. And remember, another great city, Portland, Maine, is an easy drive away or you can hop on the Downeaster Train at North Station for a lovely trip through New Hampshire to Portland. Check out VisitMaine.com for information on all that Maine has to offer.
I’ve had several requests for a little more information about Boston, so here goes with my top recommendations if you are a first-time visitor to this great city. First, you’ll definitely want to walk the Freedom Trail. The 2.5-mile trail winds past Paul Revere’s home, the Old North Church (“One if by land, two if by sea”) and a dozen other historic sites. It’s truly a walk through American history and not to be missed. You can walk it on your own, following the red-brick path on the sidewalk, or join a group led by a guide in colonial garb. (freedomtrail.org)
Next, spend some time in the Boston Common and Boston Public Garden. If you’re in town between mid-April and late September, be sure to take a ride on the Swan Boats in the Boston Public Garden lagoon. Check out these websites for information: cityofboston.gov/FreedomTrail/bostoncommon.asp; cityofboston.gov/parks/emerald/Public_Garden.asp; and swanboats.com.
Boston has some fabulous museums including the Museum of Fine Arts (mfa.org); the Museum of Science (mos.org); the Institute of Contemporary Art (icaboston.org); and the funky Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (gardnermuseum.org).
Boston’s Italian district, known as the North End, is always bustling with festivals and fun, to say nothing of fabulous food.
And finally, no visit to this great sports town would be complete without a trip to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play — if you can manage to snag tickets. If you can’t make it to a game, a tour of the park is a great alternative, especially this year when Fenway, the oldest major league baseball stadium, celebrates its 100th anniversary. boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/ballpark/tour.jsp. (Yankees baseball caps are best left in your luggage….)
More next time on where to stay and dine in Boston.