A day trip to Salem, where things got real.

 

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Welcome to part II of our New England trip.  To set the proper mood I’ll start with the ever classic…..

T’was a dreary day in New England.

Ila and I took the commuter rail from Boston to Salem.  The constant shower and angry wind ensured every inch of me got soak in spite of my best effort to protect myself. Rest assured Ila was warm and dry all day. The train ride was a relief from the storm, but the station in Salem was under construction which meant an unsavory detour in said weather.  With my head down I forged my way into town, only catching a glimpse of the passing shops and cafés.
The Peabody Museum was recommended if the the weather was bad. It was a small victory when I found it at the end of a modern walking mall full of “Witch supply” Shops and tarot readers.  All loudly advertising the enchantment everyone flocks there for.

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We spent more time in the lobby making art, then shuffling through the collections that I paid $18 to view.  Oh well, it gave us a dry place to regroup and figure out what we wanted to see here.  The museum Concierge asked me that when I grabbed a few area maps.  That was tough, what DID I come here to see?  It was close enough to Halloween that this place should have a cornucopia of entertainment.  However, I already knew the manufactured hype that was geared towards spooking tourist wasn’t going to do it for me.  I answered simply “old stuff”.  He absently swished his hand in the direction to the back of the museum and plainly stated there was an old cemetery of some sort behind the museum.  Ok.

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So, behind the towering museum, and rows of new retail space, there was a cemetery.  Along with a few old dwellings. Also, In the middle of a stone walled courtyard with, what looked like a row of two seater benches was a patch of grass roped off.  It took me a minute, but all at once it washed over me.  This was the site of the very thing that made Salem what it is.
The Salem witch trials.
These were not benches, but memorial markers of the 20 innocent women and children who were sentenced to death.
Was this patch of grass where some of them burned to death? Or hung?  The dwellings were their prison while they waited scared and cold for their trial.  It was all too sad.

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A goth couple entered quietly and crossed to a stone “bench” to pay their respects to what they think is the matriarch of their subculture.  Who am I to judge?

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Look, these people were not witches.  They were your mothers, sisters and daughters.  Your neighbors and friends.  Your acquaintances.  Some of them where outcast of their small community.  Most important for us to understand is that they were victims of ignorance, abuse of authority and fear mongering.  What’s worse is that we still haven’t learned from this.  We continue to persecute each other and ourselves.  The cycle continues, some cases  worse then others.

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I was asked later that day by a fortune telling Uber driver if I believe in ” All that”.  What? Witches & Magic? I believe there is a lot about this place, this space in time and inside our brains that we don’t understand.  However, the feeling in Salem is not magical the way myth and legend tells us it is.  I just felt a long history of sorrow glossed over by a lot of commercial glitz to attract tourist. It all seems garish when you separate fact from fiction.  I don’t blame them though, they are just giving people what they want to see.

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As it turned out, I saw exactly what a came to see.  The blatant reality of the destruction that FEAR can cause when left unchecked.

Fear.

I’ve been afraid of a lot in my life, so this was big.  What is fear any way?  This invisible force that shakes us like the wind shakes a giant tree.  It’s an emotion.  That’s it.  Guess who creates and controls emotions?  Me.  And you of course.  So, while everything I said before may not seem like a message of hope.  It is.  Fear is ours to dismiss if it threatens to control us or harm others around us. Be the good.

On that note, Happy Halloween!  Give a wink to all the dark and macabre that is on parade in jest tonight.

Xoxo,
Summer

Boston, I’ve got a crush on you…..

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This past week I packed my bags, my toddler, and hopped on a plane to Boston. Leaving the guys behind, we set out on our adventure.

Here’s the deal, I did a lot of research before embarking on my own across the country, with a toddler in tow. The common statement on seat preference was loudly window seat. That didn’t work for us. Ila was climbing the walls by hour 2 and I realized how truly claustrophobic I am. We had the isle seat on the way home. We were even lucky enough to get an extra seat. Needless to say the way home was less hairy.  Plenty of snacks, toys and a pair of kid friendly head phones kept things peaceful.

We stayed with our lovely friends in Cambridge. So, naturally Harvard was first on our list to get lost in. Harvard lived up to all my New England collegiate fantasies, and then some. Ivy covered walls forever.

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Also, a wild turkey was taking a stroll down Mass. Ave.

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Next, we jumped on the T ( Boston public transit) and headed in to Boston for a long day of walking and exploring. A side note here about using the T with a stroller, it was super easy. I was warned, again by my research online that strollers are asked to be closed while riding. With a sleeping baby, I chanced it and had zero problem. Plenty of room on train, and easy access to elevators. I was pleasantly surprised that the elevators didn’t smell like urine, the way they do in SF. There was a bouquet of flowers left in one. I mean….

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We tried to start our day at a small and very notable museum I had learned about. It was the site of an art heist in the 70’s that was the largest dollar amount of art stolen, to date. It was quite a trek to The Isabella Stuart Gardener museum. Too bad it was closed that day. Oh well, next time.

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From there we strolled Beacon hill, with it’s old charming dwellings and adorable little shops. Most of early Bostonian history makers lived here. I wouldn’t mind joining them.

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Acorn street is a must see.

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We tucked into a cute coffee shop when it started to rain. It was my kind of romance.

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After the showers lightened, we walked through Boston Commons. Which is directly across the street from Beacon hill. I regret not snapping a few photos here and also in the North end. The best photos are in my brain.

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We followed the freedom trail through Downtown, past historical old buildings and cemeteries, onto Faneuil hall market place. Accompanied by the hum of modern day and the whisper of history buzzing in my ear.

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From the harbor we made our way to the North end, starting with Columbus park. It was here that the spell over me began. It smelled like fresh rain, history and sea. There was a little girl singing in french somewhere in the park. My heart and eyes were both wide open and ready to take in this truly magical corner of Boston. It also helped that Ila was blissfully snoozing. With my phone dead, unable to navigate my way I wandered deep into the winding streets of the North end, Boston’s oldest district. A new breathtaking surprise waiting around every corner. The roads and sidewalks are so uneven there you can’t help but slow down.

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Among narrow winding streets, you will find the Paul Revere house, and Mall. A beautiful old church at one end. Endless Italian restaurant, cafés and bakeries. Each one more charming then the last. The north end was quiet that afternoon compared to the bustling downtown just outside its borders. Steeped in the European culture of its early inhabitants and even earlier colonial settlers, you are transported to another place and time. It all blooms and unfolds before you.

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The rays from the setting sun glinting through the clusters of buildings reminded me I needed to get back to my own time and find a place to charge my phone. We found a place called the modern cafe, that was anything but. inside we were greeted by the smell of espresso and cases of decadent treats. A sweet elderly man with a thick Boston/Italian accent gave Ila a few cookies straight from the case, and I quickly realized he was the original proprietor of this charming place. After I plugged in and pulled a soggy Ila out of her stroller, I was welcomed to take her down to a set of old brick and dark wood stairs to a finished, cozy basement bar to change her. Clearly a speakeasy in its day. This was a place to gather that spanned many generations.

This feels like a good place to insert a TO BE CONTINUED …..