Wicked New England: Spring Outings

Okay, gang, Spring has officially arrived. We all know it takes its sweet time here in New England. But when the weather does finally warm and the last ice is melted, where are your favorite places to wander about and catch glimpses of new life? Where do you like to spy early daffodils and carpets of tulips? See birds building nests? Hear choruses of spring peepers? Smell garden or farm soil being turned to warm in the lengthening days? Finally walk without being totally bundled up in scarves, boots, and ear warmers? Dish about your favorite early spring outing.

Jessie: I love to head for Old Orchard Beach. As soon as I possibly can stand it I peel off my shoes and socks and roll up my pant cuffs in order to walk barefooted along the sand. There is something so wonderful about feeling the sand between your toes after a long, cold winter!

Liz: The beach – any beach! Like Jessie, I feel completely at home with my toes in the sand, and I look so forward to the first visit each year when it’s warm enough to peel off some layers. This really is my happy place.

IMG_3754Edith: I head out to my garden and watch my garlic come up. Not much of an outing, I know, but it’s a marvel every spring to see the crop I planted in the fall pop its green shoots through the hay mulch and start to reach skyward. Getting the rest of the garden ready for planting is a treat, too. We also like to take walks on streets where there are lots of bulbs blooming.

Barb: For the last several years, spring has meant the ritual of opening our house in Maine. Checking out which restaurants and businesses survived the winter, what new places are popping up. Putting out the porch furniture, inspecting the basement and attic for signs of winter “guests.” That’s spring for me.

Sherry: When I lived in Massachusetts I always loved to drive up to Rockport, Massachusetts. It’s an old historic town with lots of shops and stunning scenery! I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves!

Julie: Chalk up another beach goer as soon as I can get there. I also LOVE walking through the Public Gardens in Boston, and watching the morph from winter to spring. As Edith said, it comes late here in New England, but it is greatly cherished by us all.

Readers: What are your favorite spring outings, wherever you live?

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Wicked New England: Where Would You Pose for a Holiday Photo?

New England is very, very photogenic and has a bit of everything–oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains, cities, towns, farms, factories. Wickeds, if you were going to take an iconic shot for a holiday card, where would you take it?img_0404

Jessie: I love shadow photos. You know, those pictures that are of the shadows made by the subjects rather than the subjects themselves. I love to take them of friends and family on the beach at Old Orchard. Everyone lines up and we snap a shot of what is cast upon the sand. They are especially nice if there are some distinctive hats in the mix. I think one with my husband and all my kids would make for a great holiday card.

2005christmas05Edith: I love those, too, Jessie, and I have one in a frame of my same-height-friend Jennifer and me, also at the beach. The only time we’ll ever have long legs! Our family tries to get a picture in front of the decorated tree – but it’s usually  on Christmas morning. And since I rarely get a card out before Christmas, that actually works! This one is from 2007, with my sister Janet at far left.

rockportSherry: We also have lots of Christmas tree photos! And photos from the many different places we’ve lived. As for iconic places in New England, I always wished we would have taken a picture in one of my favorite coastal towns, Rockport, Massachusetts. I’m not sure why they call this building Motif #1 but it would make an excellent background for a Christmas photo!

Liz: I love community Christmas tree lightings – so if a picture is possible in that setting, perfect. Otherwise, it’s always a good photo to have the dogs and cats sitting under the newly decorated tree!

Barb: I need one with one of those iconic lobster trap Christmas trees.

Readers: Where would you – or do you – stage your holiday photo?

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Wicked New England — Favorite Place For A Fall Walk

It’s hard to beat fall in New England! Warm days, cool nights, vivid oranges, reds, and yellows abound in the woods — it’s weather that just begs you to go outside and take a walk. So Wickeds where do you like to go when you head our for a walk in the fall?

Edith: My favorite place to walk year round is always Maudslay State Park in Newburyport.maudslay-state-park-ma It has the dual advantage of being in the next town and I have my lifetime free Senior pass to state parks, so I can leave my car for free. Since it’s the former Mosley estate, it features winding walking trails, views of the Merrimack River, and lane after lane of century-old rhododendron and bay laurel hedges. There are open fields and wooded paths. Flat walking and hilly walking. Fresh air and nesting eagles. I cross-country ski there in winter and take brilliant-colored fall walks, too.

img_4483Jessie: My favorite walk any time of the year is the beach in Old Orchard. By autumn it is almost deserted and there are miles of open sand to wander and to think. There is nothing like the salt air to clear the head!

img_3755Sherry: My favorite place in Massachusetts was the Minute Man National Historical Park that runs through Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord. It’s a walk through history that shouldn’t be missed. The picture above is of the Old North Bridge where “The Shot Heard Round The World” occurred.

img_1738In Virginia I just have to walk out my front door and head for one of the many paths in our neighborhood.

Barb: There are so many lovely New England walks, but I have to go with the bike path that runs behind the houses on the other side of my Somerville, MA street. It’s a classic urban pathway filled with commuters, kids in stollers, bikers, seniors, and students. It leads to Davis Square where you can take in a movie, have a meal, do errands, or jump on the T to Harvard Square or Boston. Or you can just meander, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of a New England fall.

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Julie: New England is an abundance of wonderful fall walks. It’s embarrassing, really. I work in Boston and commute by T, so walking is a huge part of my life. Fall in Boston is so lovely that I tend to get off a stop early, or choose to walk to a meeting rather than take the bus. But other favorite places? The beach in the fall is beyond stunning. The colors are crisp, and the temperature is perfect for bundling up, and taking long, long walks.

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Liz: Unoriginal for me but the town green. It’s so pretty with the fall colors and the leaves. img_1481

Readers: Where is your favorite place to take a walk in the fall?

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Wicked New England: Summertime Memories

In New England, unlike much of the rest of the country, lots of schools and colleges don’t start until after Labor Day. But if you’ve ever camped out or spent the latter half of August in drafty New England camp or cottage, you know the days are getting shorter and the nights often provide those crisp temperatures referred to as “good sleeping weather.”

So, before it gets away from us, I’m going to ask all the Wickeds to describe a specific and happy New England summer memory from any year.

Edith: My older son went off to Boston University in 2004. Before he did, I gathered

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2010, Crane Beach, Ipswich

his brother, some good friends, my beau – plus food and drink, of course – and we all went to the beach at the end of the day for a picnic. We swam and ate and played games in that special air and light that is the seaside in the late afternoon. We repeated the gathering for many years until he moved away – and still try to grab a late day beach dinner when he comes home in the summer!

 

Liz: Summer’s my favorite time of the year, and I have so many lovely memories usually

Shaggy, her first summer in New England

Shaggy, her first summer in New England

involving the beach. As a kid, it was always a treat when I’d get up in the morning and my mother would have an unusual twinkle in her eye and sandwiches packed, and announce that we were going to the beach. It was such an adventure then, and it seemed like such a long ride to Salisbury. In reality it was only about 20 minutes. I remember coming off the highway exit and there was a store that used to have giant stuffed animals, and they would be set up along the roadside. Those animals were always my signal that we were almost there – plus they were adorable! As an adult, my favorite summer memory was seven years ago when Shaggy came to town. She loved ice cream and the beach right from the start, so clearly she was meant to be in this house!

Barb: Oh, Liz. I love those childhood memories. There was a railroad track near my grandparents’ house on the Jersey shore and the minute we would cross it our dog would stand up in the car, sniff the air, and wag her tail. She knew we were almost there. One of my favorite New England summer memories is at Tanglewood in Lennox, Massachusetts where the Boston Symphony Orchestra spends the summer. A whole group went, my parents, kids, brothers and sisters-in-law. It was a beautiful night, we out did ourselves with the picnic and somehow watching the young cousins on blanket on the lawn, listening to the music…

IMG_9388Sherry: I love going to Maine in the summer, especially in early June before the crowds arrive! The weather is perfect and the roads aren’t too crowded. It gives me time to poke through antique stores or stop at yard sales. A walk on the beach, an outside table at a restaurant, and a great lobster roll say summer to me.

 Readers–what is your favorite summertime memory?

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Wicked New England–Favorite Summertime Activities

In January, we chatted about our favorite winter activities. If anything, New England suffers from a glut of dizzying choices in the summertime: the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in the Berkshires, camping by a lake in New Hampshire, toodling in and out of the shops on Nantucket, or spending time at the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Choices must be made. Wickeds, what is your favorite New England summer20150810_075843 activity?

Edith: It’s a toss up between going to the beach at the start or end of the day, or going into
my garden to pick dinner – sun-warmed tomatoes, skinny eggplant, lettuce, garlic, carrots,and more! Both activities are so wonderful, and the period in which we can do them in the Northeast so fleeting. Here’s a shot of my early-morning spot at Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire last July. Bliss. (I go home once the sun gets too high. And then I harvest my dinner…)

Liz: It’s not very original, but give me the beach any day. We love the beaches in Rhode Island – Second Beach is the best – and even though it’s a bit of a drive, it’s so worth it. My absolute favorite thing to do is sit by the water and read. I could stay there for the entire summer and be totally happy, as long as someone brought me water and potato chips.

IMG_3798_2Sherry: I love to go down to the North End (the Italian section) of Boston and walk around. Grab a piece of pizza and a beer. Stop by one of the Italian bakeries and have a cannoli. People watch. And, of course, visit some of the historic sites. One of my favorites is Christ Church or The Old North Church as it is more famously known. If we time it right there will be a feast and procession going on. Since I grew up in Iowa, I’d never seen anything like the processions that go on in the North End. Here’s a website with a list of them!

Jessie: I love walking the beach. As soon as it gets the least bit warm I head to the shore and unless there is still snow on the ground I usually take off my shoes for the pleasure of the sand between my toes. Being barefoot is decidedly more pleasant once summer rolls around!

Free-Fun-Fridays-Schedule-2016Julie: In Boston there are a ton of things to do in the summer. Open markets, free Shakespeare thanks to companies like It’s A Fiasco and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. The Highland Street Foundation supports Free Fun Fridays, offering free entry into 10 sites a week for 10 weeks throughout the summer. (This is Massachusetts wide, so check the site.) As Sherry pointed out, there are festivals every week in the North End. The arts are everywhere in the summer–I’m very much looking forward to Outside the Box on the Boston Common July 13-17 this summer. I enjoy the beach, reading on a hammock, eating seafood, ice cream at Christina’s or Somerset Creamery, an annual trip to Canobie Lake Park. But my favorite part about summer is not having to wear layers, eating outside, and being able to walk to great arts adventures.

Barb: At the risk of being boringly repetitious, my favorite summer activity is sitting on our front porch in Maine, in a rocker, with a book in my lap, looking at this view.

ViewofBoothbayHarbor

Readers, how about you? What’s your favorite summer activity?

Wicked New England – Favorite Foods

Because there are five Wednesdays in March this year, let’s combine Wicked Wednesday with Wicked New England today.

Wickeds (and readers in the Comments section): What are your favorite New England foods? And which have you already included in one of your books?

Liz:  So much good New England food! I do love lobster rolls and French fries, but since I don’t eat real bread anymore  I’ve had to get creative. If I’m out, I’ll get the lobster on a salad (with the fries, of course!). At home, I found a fun vegan recipe reminiscent of the IMG_9169 traditional New England lobstah roll, but using tofu. It’s actually really good, and looks almost like the real thing! Since my books have food for pets, this, naturally, has not appeared. But maybe Stan will find a nice vegan cafe and try one…

Edith: Because of our long winters, when the growing season starts up it’s a huge treat to eat fresh local produce again in the spring. I suppose asparagus in May and local strawberries in June aren’t particular to New England, but I can never get asparagusmarinatedenough of them. The first thing I did when I moved three years ago was prepare a wide bed for asparagus crowns. Breaking off a stalk and eating it in the garden is just the best, and I included Cam’s Marinated Asparagus in A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die. And then there are sun-warmed heirloom tomatoes a little later in the summer…

 

Jessie: One of my favorites is Anadama Bread. It’s a yeast bread made with cornmeal, oatmeal  and molasses. We used to eat it often when I was a child and every now and again I bake a couple of loaves. I included a version of it in my book Maple Mayhem, which is a speciality of the protagonist’s grandmother, named Grandmadama Bread. Since that series features a sugarmaker I substituted maple syrup for the molasses and was pretty pleased with the results.

IMG_3801_2Sherry: I’ve live a lot of places since my husband was in the Air Force. You end up finding different favorite things for different parts of the country. Moving to Massachusetts opened up a whole new food world for me! My very favorite which I’d never had before is a lobster roll — heaven on a bun, a New England style bun, of course. Next comes pizza — I don’t know why they taste different and oh, so yummy there but they do. And one slice is the size of your head. Then I discovered Italian pastries — cannoli and lobster tails, perfection!

Julie: I love clambake foods–lobster, clams, corn, potatoes. YUM. But to top it off, the real New England food–ice cream. We love our ice cream here. Coffee ice cream is a special favorite. I used to love frappes (shakes to most of you) , but now I’m wicked happy with a dish of delish ice cream. One of my favorites comes from Somerset Creamery in Cataumet (down the Cape). Cranberry Bog ice cream has craisins, cranberries, walnuts, and white chocolate. So, so good. There is some food mentioned in Just Killing Time, but the food talk gets ramped up in Clock and Dagger.

Barb: Since we’ve just passed St. Patrick’s Day, I have to go with a New England Boiled Dinner. That’s corned beef, cabbage and other vegetable such as potatoes, carrots, and onion. It sounds disgusting, but cooked properly it ends up being a smoky, salty delight with a little crunch left in the cabbage.

Readers: Favorite New England food? Please dish! (The groan heard round the world – hey, it’s been a long month…)

Wicked New England — Favorite Wintertime Activities

IMG_0407If New England is known for anything it is its winters. So Wickeds, do you embrace winter? Avoid it? What’s your favorite part of winter in New England? What’s your favorite activity?

Liz: I think you all know me well enough to know I strongly dislike winter. Being cold has never been my thing. As a kid, my parents took us skiing, and that didn’t work so well either. The last memory I have on the slopes is at 15. I sat in a pile of snow off the trail, one leg facing the wrong way, one ski on its own way down the mountain. The only thing winter is good for is long nights of writing, because it’s too darn cold to leave the house and do anything else!

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Odd shadow selfie of Edith on skis.

Edith: I’m a native southern Californian, so I was imprinted with desert. But I love winter, even though I have poor circulation in my hands and feet. I discovered cross-country skiing in the early 80s and haven’t missed a season. Shoveling snow under a cerulean sky on a clear crisp post-storm morning when you’ve been housebound for a couple of days? Perfect. And then, as Liz says, winter is perfect for staying indoors and churning out word count as you watch flakes fall.

Jessie: When you are raised by New Englanders you experience a constant feeling of guilt if you don’t get outside and do something when the weather is good. Throughout the growing season reading, knitting, sleeping in are all undermined by a sense of squandered opportunities. But in winter, there is no taint to the enjoyment of indoor pursuits. So, I IMG_0412contentedly put dinner in the slow cooker and settle back to binge read Scandanavian crime novels.

Sherry: Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating…they aren’t for me. I love the occasional ride down a steep hill in a sled but other than that I much prefer sitting inside and watching snowflakes swirl by the window.

Julie: I am not a winter fan. Because I rely on the T, and have a bit of a walk to get to the stations, commuting is my winter sport. Seriously. I don’t like to propel my body on ice or snow, so most winter sports are out. Aside from the outdoor sport of getting my 10,000 steps a day (which doesn’t vary season to season), my other winter sports are drinking red wine, writing, binge watching shows on Netflix and Amazon, creating crock pot adventures, figuring out the best way to battle hat head, and exploring different ways of layering clothes that keep me warm in every environment.

Barb: My idea of winter activities–rubberducky2

Edith: Ya had to rub that in, didn’t you, Barb?

Readers:
Do you have a favorite winter activity?