tempus fugit (time flies!)

Saturday was a magnificent spring day (in January?!), and the boys and I decided to wander parts of Boston to “see what we can see.” I had my camera with me, so you can see a little part of our long walk. Warm and sunny, the day was a real gift.

We started our walk in Downtown Crossing, with a visit to Windsor Button to buy some size 7 circular needles. (Yes, I have a million sets of circulars, but no size 7s. And I think I’m doomed never to have size 7s, because the pair I bought disappeared as soon as I brought them into the house. But I digress.)

Just outside the knitting shop, I looked up and saw this wonderful torch. I love the Art Nouveau styling of the building number. The shopfront here is completely nondescript, but fortunately no previous renovator decided to dismantle the lovely torch.

We picked up some lunch and decided to have an urban picnic. We found a place to sit near Macy’s, where we spent some time people-watching while we filled our bellies. This part of Downtown Crossing is a great place to watch people, because it is such a crossroads for the city. The kids loved watching the taxis and police patrolmen and hotdog vendors.

This is an area of real change. Longtime Boston residents lament the closing of Jordan Marsh, and more recently Filene’s. Chain stores have moved in–and moved out–of the area. Some things seem eternal, like the chiming of the bells on the old Filene’s on the hour, every hour. And then there are new discoveries, like the solar-powered trash compactors.

Here’s a view of Washington Street heading north. Like many older cities, it’s a real mishmash of architectural styles, including the 18th-century Old South Meetinghouse, generic skyscrapers, and a humble little 1970s-era CVS. Just a short walk from here is Boston’s famous Faneuil Hall, as well as its hideous City Hall. Such a city of contrasts.

Look up when you’re in Boston, and you’ll see some interesting details.

This medallion is over the side entrance of a once-grand building whose first floor has been remodeled beyond recognition. Perhaps because this medallion was on a side street, nobody thought it worth the effort to remove in the name of “progress.”

Here’s one we saw later in the day, a small detail of a building on Boylston Street in Back Bay.

Sometimes this amount of detail can seem almost overwhelming, but it amazes me to think about the value that businessowners and architects used to place on detail. I think fewer people think about the longevity of buildings today, so they often aren’t as willing to invest in the effort to create beauty.

Aidan shares my interest in old graveyards, so we went to explore King’s Chapel Burying Ground.

Most of the graves there are from the 1600s and 1700s, though I did notice one from 2003! Anyway, we used this visit to talk about the imagery we saw on the gravestones and what they symbolized. Most are quite somber, but this one made death look quite cheerful.

This one was more somber and serious, in keeping with the many skeletons and skulls we saw carved upon the stones. If you look carefully, you can see the skeleton holding a candle-snuffer, ready to snuff out the flame on the candle. Heavy stuff indeed.

Something lighter was in order next, so we walked over the Boston Common to see what was happening (along with 99.9% of the city’s residents who were out enjoying the glorious day.) A few brave souls ventured onto Frog Pond for some ice skating, but the surface of the ice refused to freeze. As some of the more accomplished skaters made quick turns, water sprayed off the blades of the skates and glistened in the sunlight.

Time to be an airplane!

Here’s another part of Boston that is about to change–the Ritz-Carlton. Later this week, it will become Taj Boston, after having been sold away from the Ritz-Carlton company. Actually, this isn’t really part of old Boston–it only goes back to 1927–but there is so much changing in Boston that a lot of people are getting very nostalgic. I have to admit, I’m one of them. I always fancied having “tea at the Ritz,” but it doesn’t sound the same to say “tea at the Taj” (though that sounds like it could have an exotic appeal, doesn’t it?).

Dazzling display of cherry blossoms in January.

Delightful, beautiful, and yet so sad because the cold weather will come and shock the living daylights out of the trees. I wonder if we will have much a spring after getting this preview so early?

Our usual stop to see Mrs. Mallard and her babies, the bronze statues in the Public Garden modeled after the characters in the book Make Way for Ducklings. Douglas and Aidan seem to have a built-in homing device that alerts them when we’re within walking distance of Mrs. Mallard, so we go visit her just about every time we’re in town.

This time, though, we had a little drama of a quarrel between two stubborn 4-year-old girls over the next-to-last duckling, Pack. Despite the fact that Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, and Quack were all free, the girls fussed and shouted screamed about sitting on Pack. Both little girls were as cute as their behavior was horrid, but their parents laughed off their behavior, even when one of the girls smacked her mother and told her “I hate you!” Her mom saw that other parents were watching, and she simply laughed and said “see what I have to put up with?” Oh dear, her future is going to be mighty grim…

But at long last, our day of discovery came to an end. With the sun dipping low in the sky, it was time to cross the bridge in the Public Garden and head back to the car. Two weary boys and one weary mom, but it was a beautiful day. I’ll remember it when the snow comes…later this week, they say!

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3 Responses to “tempus fugit (time flies!)”

  1. Thanks for dropping by and commenting on my blog – I thought I’d have a little nosy and see what yours is like – I’m glad I did, your photo-story of your trip round Boston is a real gem – I love seeing the little details around where people live.

  2. I’m late for the walk but loved belatedly strolling along the streets with you and the boys. Thanks for the wonderful glimpses of Boston, the only city in the NE that I’d like to visit. Now you’ve added to that desire.

    It’s sad how some moms seem unable to understand that children desperately need them to be in control and in charge. Keep up the good parenting. Your love for all your children shines through your words.

  3. Ahh, these pics make me homesick for my home city…phooey to living in the sticks of NH!
    I haven’t been to Winsor Button in some time…maybe I should take a trip. That building is beautiful.

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