posts tagged with 'adventure'


bare trees and gray sky behind the Old North Bridge

gray light

I had a project to post something every weekday in October, and I did. Then I thought I could take a break in November. We've also been pretty tired out and some of us sick. But that hasn't prevented us from enjoying the November weather.

Zion's face poking up from a leaf pile

big pile

You'd never guess that iconic-type of fall image was actually taken on the sidewalk of a busy street. All the leaves fell at once this year, so there's pretty much a pile under every tree.

the three boys playing in a leaf pile on the sidewalk of a busy road

roadside entertainment

After that moment of fun and a short trip through Wilson Farm (ask Lijah about the llama...) we went down to Arlington to walk around the Reservoir. Around, and in some cases over: it's very shallow this fall. Still enough water for swans.

Zion and Harvey looking at a pair of swans on a pond

bird watching

The next day I took the boys to Concord. We stopped at the Old North Bridge—pictured at the top of this post—and generally got into things. Like trees.

all three boys up in a tree

trees make us smile

Zion was very excited to find a shiny button.

Zion showing off his brass button


We thought it might be off a redcoat's jacket. There was one talking to tourists not far away, but when we looked at his uniform we saw it wasn't a match. Disappointing, but at least it meant Zion got to keep it!

As well as the bridge and its surrounds, we also explored the boathouse. I'd never been in before—I didn't know one even could saw that he could open the latch he didn't hesitate to invite the rest of us in. We had fun playing in the semi-darkness.

Lijah in the dim light of the boat house, by the just-cracked door

gloomy fun

The dock was fun too.

the boys at the end of the dock, looking into the murkey water

don't fall in

And at home, we even managed to enjoy—briefly—a fire out in the yard. It was Lijah who encouraged me—commanded me—to start it, and the two of us spent a lovely 15 minutes appreciating the warmth and light.

a fire in the grill, seen past Lijah's shoulder


November at its finest.


Thompson Island report: phoning it in

A little more about our church retreat on Thompson Island. Whatever the challenges of getting there, and eating and sleeping while there, it was lovely to be in a place where even the view out the bathroom window is worth photographing.

the view out a bathroom window: lawn, ocean, boats

relaxing sights for handwashing

Unfortunately, though I brought my camera along (of course) various other concerns kept me from remembering to have it with me most of the time. So most of the photos here are from my substandard phone camera; but they're sufficient at least to illustrate this over-long account that's probably only of interest to me and Harvey. You've been warned!

My adventure started at 3:30, when Leah and the boys picked me up at work.We drove to Cambridge, where we left the car at church and walked to the Red Line at Porter Square. That was a leisurely stroll, but by the time we detrained at Downtown Crossing I was feeling the press of time and I led the family on a desperate march over the hill and down to Long Wharf. We got there five minutes before we were supposed to and joined the happy—though chilly—throng milling about. Then onto the boat, where we admired the sunset as we waited for departure.

Harvey looking aft towards the pink sky over Logan Airport

sailor's delight

The voyage was Harvey's favorite part of the whole thing, and he's supposed to be working on a story about it, so I'll leave that to him; I do want to point out how wonderful it was, given Zion's love for the ball moon, that for most of the outward track that moon was leading us on.

Harvey and a friend looking forward as we steam towards the moon

moonward bound

When we got to the island we packed into the dining hall for a hasty dinner, then got set up in our little dorm room and went to bed. There were activities we could have joined—oh, there were activities!—but after 9:00 we turn into pumpkins, so we turned in instead. It was lovely to be inside on a very chilly night, and having three twin beds for the five of us made it extra warm and cozy—especially when the heater came on and blasted dry heat at us most of the night.

In the morning when Harvey and Zion woke up I took them and Lijah—who Leah had already been watching for some time—down to the shore while we waited for breakfast to open.

the boys on the gravel beach

early exploration

While the weekend was a retreat for most of the adults, many of the adults came with kids and those kids had to be entertained. I volunteered to help out, so after breakfast I found myself leading a group of eleven of them—including Harvey and Zion—on a series of outdoor adventure stations. Usually with those church kids I'm the one doing all the planning work, so it was nice to be able to follow someone else's directions; especially when the directions were basically, "go to these locations and have fun". Our first spot was the beach, where the kids threw stones.

Zion throwing a rock into the water

it's pretty much what you do

They also started building a bridge across the stream draining the salt pond, which was flowing high and fast; only two of them got their feet wet.

Next we moved to a "make-your-own obstacle course", where the kids used planks and various other found objects to enhance a small existing adventure play area.

kids moving a 2x8 plank into position

all hands working together

As well as challenging themselves with feats of balance and daring—"you can do the whole obstacle course? How about hopping on one foot?!"—they were also delighted to be able to smash up some (already slightly broken) chairs they found lying around. Lijah joined us for the fun; he couldn't smash, but he could climb!

Lijah climbing up a board on our home-made obstacle course

rising to the challenge

For our last stop the kids were supposed to pair up and take turns either blindfolded or serving as a guide dog. Tiring, not all of them were into it; somewhat surprisingly, Harvey was one of the more enthusiastic participants.

Harvey, blindfolded, being led by a friend

leading the blind

The non-participating kids played around on the pair of former Outward Bound boats set up on the lawn; before long the rest of the group joined them.

kids chilling on one of the grounded boats

high and dry

When things evolved into a shooting war (well, apple throwing anyways) between boys and girls I called a halt, and we headed up to the dining hall for lunch.

Parents were meant to pick the kids up from there, but most of them were having awesome spiritual and/or community-building experiences and didn't want to rush back too quickly. Recognizing that the dining hall might not survive the active energy of 35 kids once they were done eating, I brought my group out to make leaf piles to jump in. Everyone else soon followed, and somehow the bigger kids located a half-dozen rakes, so it was real.

Lijah watching the big kids make a leaf pile

it's fun because they don't have to do it

Next up on the day's agenda was a concert. Kids were welcome, but I couldn't bear to miss any outdoor time, and the boys felt the same. So did some of the other kids, and we put together an expedition back to the beach. The tide was lower, and between that and the work the other two groups put in after us the bridge was passable, with care. That opened up delightful new areas for exploration!

Zion gingerly crossing the bridge of rocks accross the stream on the beach

carefully now..

Harvey, Zion, and their friends found all sorts of treasures: shells, rusted metal bits, bricks, glass; even some crab traps, something else to throw.

Harvey throwing a crab trap into the salt pond

traps away

Free of the tyranny of a schedule, we hung out at the beach for quite some time, until dinner called us back to the buildings (I'll take that kind of tyranny any day!). After dinner the kids wrestled outside on the dark lawn for a bit before we all went in together for a final worship and prayer session. It was a little loud and distracted back in the family section, but with everyone starting to hit extreme tiredness the kids finally settled down a little bit, still happy to be together.

in the dark: Harvey chatting with a friend, Zion looking sleepy

the cool kids

Then we all rolled on down the path to the dock and back onto the boat. The return trip felt much quicker than the voyage out, and before long we were walking back to the Red Line; this time, happily, with friends who were going the same way. It's good that we had them along, because otherwise we might not have made it. Also the stroller was essential.

Zion asleep, leaning to the side in the umbrella stroller

wiped out

Ferry, walk, train, walk, car... we finally made it back home at 10:30. It was a good time for most of us—Leah will share her own feelings a little later, I believe—but we're in no hurry to do it again soon. Adventures closer to home for the next couple weeks, please!


weekend away

We went to Boston Friday only to leave it again, by sea.

the South End skyline viewed from the ferry

the journey out

We spent a lovely and challenging 26 hours on Thompson Island with a bunch of folks from church.

Lijah exploring the hallway in the dorm

exploring the dormitory

Most of the time I didn't have my real camera with me, which was too bad, since there were some delightful sights.

Harvey on the gravel beach of Thompson Island around sunrise

the beach, first thing

We made it home safely late yesterday evening. We're still recovering.

on the subway platrform: Zion in the stroller, Harvey watching for a train

homeward bound late


weekend long ride

On Saturday Luke finally got me out to do a long ride with him. He started the day off by riding up here from West Roxbury, so he already had a lot of time in the saddle by the time I joined up; but with plans to go almost 50 more miles I wasn't sure if I was going to make it! We were headed out to the Haystack Observatory out in Westford, which meant plenty of fine fall riding along quiet rural roads.

Luke riding down a country lane

he knows the way

After 25 miles or so (and only one major wrong turn) we made it to the base of Haystack Hill and, eventually, to the top. It turns out they like to put observatories up high.

Luke riding towards a towering white ball

I think we found it

It being a Saturday the place was closed to automotive visitors, but there was a sign pointing to a pedestrian cut-through around the gate. We thought that could go for cyclists too.

Besides a pair of giant white orbs (the Haystack Radio Telescope proper, pictured above, and the Westford Radio Telescope) and one smaller orb (Haystack Auxiliary Radar; only a 40-foot dish) the site is also home to a couple of much more visually interesting exposed metal antennas.

the Millstone Hill Steerable Antenna and the Zenith Antenna, seen from across the parking lot

I'm sure they all do something

We deemed the Millstone Hill Steerable Antenna as the most photogenic for the purpose of our official posed bike shots; though I was challenged to get both bicycle and antenna in the frame.

my bike leaning against the fence in front of the Millstone Hill Steerable Antenna; with Luke and warning sign

proving I biked there

Because we kind of had to sneak in we were the only visitors, but the site seems like it would be at least moderately welcoming to visitors during work hours. Outside one of the buildings they had a pair of parabolic dishes with platforms in front of them; standing on one platform you could hear a whisper from the other, 30 yards away (just like the one at the Discovery Museum only bigger and better!).

They also had an apple tree, and, as is always the case, I couldn't resist trying one. I had some thought it might give me super-powers—you know, the radiation and all—but no luck. It was pleasantly sweet but soft and mealy, so I didn't finish it (the only disappointment of the whole outing).

me holding a red apple in front of the Haystack Radio Telescope


Then it was time to head home. We chose a more southerly route in order to make a loop, and it took us through picturesque Concord.

a red barn (or garage) amidst fields and stone walls

well-kept rural landscape

We crossed the Concord River by way of the Old North Bridge, which merited another stop for a photo.

my bike leaning against the rail of the Old North Bridge

almost home

Then home, for a total (for me) of about 45 miles. There were definitely moments along the way when I thought I wouldn't be able to make it up the next hill, but after finishing up with three flat miles on the dirt of the Reformatory Branch Trail I was feeling good and would have been happy to keep going even further. And I didn't even get sore afterwards! So... 75 miles next time?

Thanks, Luke, for getting me out there!


downtown by bicycle

I had a little extra time today between finishing up work in Cambridge and meeting Leah and the boys to hang out with friends in Arlington, so I hopped on my bike for a little extra ride. I thought maybe I could head downtown and go all the way to the ocean. That may not have sounded like a reasonable plan to Harvey ("there's an ocean in Boston?!" he asked incredulously, as I described the adventure afterwards) but, judging by distance alone, it was entirely reasonable—just like five miles away! Never having biked into the city, though, I overlooked one crucial point: it's a terrible experience!

Well, maybe not entirely terrible. But doing it as I was on a whim and without a well-planned route I exposed myself to all sorts of things that made for a not-so-fun ride. Things were fine as I started out from Rindge Ave down Sherman into Harvard Square. But east of Harvard—I ended up on Mass Ave, because, you know, you do—I was faced with a series of red lights that made me start doubting the whole enterprise. Over the river I was into Back Bay, which wasn't my original plan; I meant to cross the Longfellow Bridge, which is much closer to the ocean! Avoiding Comm Ave, I headed down Marlborough St, where four-way-stops every block—not to mention countless double-parked trucks—kept me from building up any momentum. And things got even worse when I hit Berkeley St, where, apparently, Marlborough's one-way traffic reverses! It was only with difficulty that I found a legal way around that didn't lead me onto Storrow Drive.

So there were navigation challenges; there's also the insanity of city drivers who, wherever the road allows, accelerate to maybe 30 miles an hour over a short block. That's tricky on, say, Arlington by the Public Garden, where I was trying to cross four lanes of traffic to make a left. Up Beacon Street I went to the State House, where I looked at the time... and made the decision to give up my quest. Caught in the crazy tangle of Old Boston streets, I was needing to look at the map on my phone at almost every corner, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to get anywhere in the time I had available—never mind getting back! So with many more map checks I made my way back down to the river and across the bridge by the Science Museum; if I was going to turn back before my objective, at least I'd make a good loop of it!

Across the river conditions improved right away—well, as soon as I got myself on the right side of the street. The cycling was fine on Cambridge St and I finally got into a rhythm and felt like I was on a bike ride rather than a mad orienteering expedition. Then I turned onto Beacon, where the paving is exceptionally bad. But Beacon took me up to Somerville Ave into Porter Square, where the green-painted bike lanes are a thing of beauty: a true paradise after the desperate struggle I'd endured. Too bad I could only enjoy them for a quarter of a mile before I turned onto Rindge and finished the loop (in an hour and ten minutes; I had plenty of time to spare).

I really ought to have taken some pictures along the way; there were many fine sights, and this is like the fourth pictureless post in a row here. But frankly I was too terrified and/or confused most of the time to be thinking about aesthetic concerns. The biggest problem was with navigation, and obviously if I knew the city better—or at all—I would have done much better there. But even if I'd been totally certain of my route, I'm still not sure it would have been a really pleasant experience. There are lots and lots of cars downtown—I can't imagine why—and when they aren't playing drag race on multi-lane roads they're stopped in traffic, so close to parked cars that you can't find a way to squeeze through. Add in the stop lights and the pedestrians (who are the smart ones—that's the way to get around the city!) and you start to question the sanity of the whole endeavor.

It was so bad that I need to try again one time to see if I can do it better.


a wide range of Saturday outings

We were talking with friends of ours last week about what it would be like to move out to the western part of the state to have more land and freedom to farm, but our two outings today show that there are some pretty sweet advantages to living where we do. In the morning, we headed half-an-hour west, to show Mama the beauties of Old Frog Pond Farm that she missed out on last week.

Leah and the boys checking out the porcupine egg

fun for the whole family

It was even more beautiful in the sunshine, and after a picnic lunch the boys were delighted to be there (there was some absence of delight before the food was served).

the family checking out art on the banks of the Old Frog Pond

the beauty of art and nature

And no, Leah's not checking Facebook in that picture... she's looking at the photos she just took herself. While she loves having a new smartphone, she's still totally present for her family.

With the sunshine and drier weather we noticed some things we had missed out on the first time, like a seat carved from granite.

Zion sitting on a stone chair sculpture

this, he likes

We also enjoyed seeing old favorites from last week. The boys were excited to see if Mama could spot the white leaves (Zion was so excited he let the secret out early), and to share the Adam and Eve piece—particularly pointing out how Adam's penis is made from a spring.

Then after a bit of a rest at home the boys and I headed out again to the big city to catch some of the Honk Festival performances (Leah stayed home; she doesn't do cities). We can't do the parade this year—a birthday party takes priority—but we didn't want to miss the anarchistic brass band fun! Looking to avoid parking problems and too much walking, we left the car at church in Cambridge and biked over to the festival. There was music everywhere.

Lijah up close behind the stage watching the band

the Rude Mechanical Orchestra

We stayed for about two hours and listened to four bands up close. Lijah enjoyed dancing to the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, and he loved that the crowd was passing a couple beach balls around (despite Harvey's hopes and thoughtful maneuverings, we never got to bat them ourselves).

the Ten Man Brass Band, from behind

still pretty loud from behind

Next we got right up close behind the Ten Man Brass Band, and even though the horns were facing the other direction it was seriously loud. They played two Youngblood Brass Band songs while we were there, so Lijah was thrilled (he still digs the band); while he was a little too overwhelmed by the crowd to get down and dance, he totally got into the music from the safety of my arms.

Lijah with his hand in the air

waving like he just don't care

Not the best picture, since I was holding him and trying to selfie him with the phone, but let me assure you he was absolutely feeling the beat!

After that we headed over to check out the New Creation Brass Band set, which was even more crowded. The older boys were tiring a bit, and were happy to sit at the back of the throng and enjoy some dinner. You don't get Mama-style bento boxes on an outing with Dada, but at least there's plenty of food.

the boys on the sidewalk with their tupperware supper

music dinner

Ten Man and New Creation were the bands I most wanted to see, so when the latter wrapped up their set I figured it was time to show the boys some fun. Happily there was another band playing by a playground right around the corner. As soon as Harvey and Zion got through the gate they were off, and I only saw them from a distance for the next 20 minutes or so.

Harvey and Zion, seen from above, running on the playground

running wild

The structure was a little to tall for Lijah, so he and I watched the band play on in the gathering twilight.

the Leftist Marching Band playing in the gathering dark

Leftists at dusk

Our two outings were very different, but they did have one thing in common: they're both full of so much artistic vitality that it's hard to leave them to go back to regular life. It doesn't seem fair that Honk is just one weekend; we could use more of that wild anarchist joy (and good music!) spread over the other seasons too! And while Old Frog Pond Farm is open weekends all fall, it can be pretty easy to forget its spirit of quietly surprising creativity during the week—to say nothing of over the winter.

But we'll see what we can do to hold onto them: in between church and the party tomorrow we'll be playing music and adding to the world of adventure we're creating in the woods behind the house. Come over Monday and join in the fun!


artistic outing

a stone bird sculpture; Harvey and Zion in the background

in the sculpture garden

On Saturday I took the boys out to Old Frog Pond Farm, an apple orchard that also has a sculpture walk.

a big egg-shaped porcupine-looking sculpture

porcupine egg?

As we pulled in the boys were delighted to see what looked like an egg made out of porcupine out on the front lawn, and we were instantly sold on the idea of mixing sculpture with apples. It was a chilly gray day, and the morning's light rain had just ended when we got there, so we had the place to ourselves. The woman at the sculpture side of things greeted us warmly, gave Harvey a map, and pointed us in the right direction... then we were on our own to explore.

Zion and Harvey walking in the sculpture park

a farm where they grow art

There were all kinds of pieces by a variety of artists, but all of them shared certain qualities—especially in how much they blended in to the natural (and agricultural) environment. Sometimes so much so that they were hard to spot!

an instalation: white plastic leaves in the oak tree


All the art was very approachable for the kids, and lots of the pieces just cried out to be touched. I'm not sure what the rules really were, but when things looked safe enough I didn't want to hold the boys back. Who could resist, say, this giant mancala board?!

Lijah checking out a giant mancala board

begging to be played with

The biggest piece on the walk was a rusty-brown teapot of a considerable size. We saw it right from the beginning but the path took us away from it, around a pond and through the edge of the woods. When we came to the end of the loop and saw it again the boys ran right up.

the boys checking out a giant teapot sculpture

the biggest sculpture

I was delighted to see it was made out of old leaves stuffed into a structure of chicken wire. Even more delightful was discovering, a little later, that the piece is called "Compost Tea".

detail of the teapot sculpture: leaves under chicken wire

that's what it's made of

I don't think I could pick my favorite of the sculptures we saw—I could barely restrain myself from posting pictures of all of them! There were eggs woven from twigs and carved out of wood; golden dragonflies suspended over the stream and a silvery creature emerging from the pond; suggestions of birds in pieces of branches and cast-off iron machinery; and a sacred circle of standing stones, to name just a few.

The walk was free (though we did pay the suggested donation, despite not being asked—I wouldn't have known about it if I hadn't read the website) so I thought we might support the endeavor by picking some apples... also Lijah was just about demanding it, since he could see them hanging on the trees. So we did.

Harvey and Zion picking apples, alone in the orchard

a real orchard, and all to ourselves

The only varieties left were two I'd never heard of, Green Crisp and another one I can remember. We got both, and it was nice to have to work to find good apples off of real trees in a real orchard.

Lijah walking back through the orchard, munching on an apple

Lijah approves

The only bad part of the day was we came home to find that Leah would have loved to come with us to the orchard, something I completely failed to realize. I'm now working on being a better listener.


misery on the mountain

I am up in the middle of the night berating myself for not completing a marathon yesterday Well, that's not entirely true. I am up in the middle of the night because Zion came into my bed and woke up Elijah, and then Elijah woke up Zion, and then back and forth for an hour until I asked Zion to go back to his bed, and then Dan had a disciplinary moment with Zion over using the potty and me and Dan had a little argument about it, and then I put the baby back to sleep after that, and NOW I am berating myself about not finishing a marathon yesterday.

Because when your life is a series of sisyphusian struggles, night in and night out, completing small goals becomes arbitrarily important.

Anyway, I thought I would run this marathon yesterday.

a competitive field at the start of the race

I had a good running season 2014. I logged two 20 mile runs and at least a dozen half marathons. A tight marathon would have felt like a nice little cap on my accomplishments. More than that, a timed event that would have rendered "official" the work that's been heretofore private, shared only between me and the trail and my gps watch. Okay and also on Strava and Wellcoin. I'm not very good at the private thing. But STILL. I wanted someone to hand me a medal and say, "Well done, Leah, You've FINISHED something. At least today, at least in this very inconsequential area of your life." (They don't really say that when they hand out medals, I just in my mind imagine that they do.) So I looked up all the fall marathons in New England and narrowed the list to events on a Saturday within a 3 hour drive. There were two options. Both were trail races.

What's a trail race? I thought. That doesn't sound too hard.

"Rolling hills over foot trails in the beautiful Pittsfield state forest." Based on the website description it sounded positively relaxing! I'd be out and running first thing in the morning and back by the afternoon to help the kids get ready for dinner.

Or so I thought. This is what the Pittsfield state forest looks like.

up up up

The rolling hills mentioned in the website are up and down a 2700 foot mountain. To this lookout.

what am i doing here?

The path down follows a rocky riverbed.

down down down

It was a beautiful place to hike but a mother effing IMPOSSIBLE place to run.

By mile five my legs felt like they had gone ten miles. My back hurt, even though I can usually run three hours normal without feeling my back. By mile six I realized everyone was walking up the hill. In fact the name of the game seemed to be walking up hill. I kept looking at my watch and it kept telling me incredibly depressing things. Like: "15 MINUTE MILE!" and "You were crazy to tell your family you'd be done in four hours! You aren't going to finish this marathon EVER!!!!!"

Sometimes my watch went into auto-pause mode. While I was moving. Like as a little extra bonus fuck you.

By mile eight I had some hard questions to ask myself. Like, what do you do when you are right in the middle of a self inflicted disaster? What is important for decision making here? How much do I weigh my longing to complete something against my responsibilities to my family and/or the health of my knees?

I was not physically trained for the race I was in. I was a little nauseous and I had a stomach cramp which made me think I was not processing the lactic acid coming from my legs. Which meant I was working anaerobically. Which meant, for a distance event, I was DOING IT WRONG.

I had told everyone I would be running a four hour marathon. I had completely misjudged the course. And also my ability to jump into any physical challenge and come out swinging. My dad was planning to pick me up for lunch. My kids were expecting me home for dinner. No one, not least myself, wanted me out on that mountain I didn't know was a mountain for six fucking hours.

Strava says the elevation gain for the part of the race I completed was 2900ft. 2900 feet! I should have looked that up before I gave my credit card number.

I called my dad at three hours in and told him I was almost at the halfway point of the marathon. He had gone to an art museum nearby and was already on his way back to pick me up for the finish. He said something to the effect of, "What???" Which I took to mean, "What the honest to goodness fuck, child, you are always getting it wrong and disappointing me." I said, with as much emotional coolness as I could muster, that the race was too hard for me, that I should drop out at the half, that we should call it a day and go out for lunch.

It seemed like the smart move. It seemed like something a rational person would do. But when I came down the hill and the guys at the aid station were cheering I just waved them away and shook my head like, "No, you guys, you dont' get it. I didn't sign up for the half marathon, I'm actually just a quitter."

What if I had pushed through the second loop? Would I have fallen and destroyed an ankle? Would I be running through a different set of questions in my head? "Why do you hate your body so much, Leah? Do you want to be able to walk into your 50s? Is endurance athletics a redirection of a secret death wish?"

Instead I have these questions to torment me. "Why are you a perpetual failure, Leah? Why are you so quick to jump on any excuse out?" And just for misery sake, the kicker: "How can you justify eating so much, you disgusting fat pig, if you don't even finish your stupid marathon?"


a tale of two outings

On Friday the boys and I took a walk in the woods and marshes across the street.

Zion walking through tall brush

pushing his way through

The cranberry bogs we slid on last winter are all dried out now—for the summer or forever remains to be seen—so we thought we'd have an easy time of it, and maybe even be able to cross the brook for the first time ever. There were certainly some pretty sights along the way.

a pink flower

I should know what it's called

But there was also hot sun and bugs and, worst of all, vast stands of grass with tiny barbs all over its leaves. It's growing everywhere that in another summer would be wet, and pushing through it with the day camp group on Thursday we ended up with cuts all over our legs. Friday we had long pants, but Zion and sometimes even Harvey had to watch out for wounds to the arms. So when we reached the brook we called a halt for a snack and headed back, defeated.

the boys standing on the meadowy bank of Hartwell brook

as far as we could get

Still, it was a beautiful hike and we all enjoyed most of it.

Saturday we ventured into downtown Boston, against Leah's much better judgement, to take in a little bit of very loud music at the Copley Arts Festival.

Harvey eating an apple in front of the Copley Arts Festival stage

with snacks of course

Despite the crowds we were able to meet up with some friends who, settling in for the long haul towards the start of the day-long proceedings, had texted us where they were hanging out (sadly, we missed a different group of friends who were there at the same time). Being country mice, we didn't spend much time in front of the stage, instead seeking out some slightly quieter spaces with a little more room to play.

Leah and Lijah sitting on the steps of the empty fountain

not so crowded there

And of course, we also took in the sights of the big city.

Harvey standing on a pedestal, with Trinity Church and the Prudential Tower behind him

he's almost as tall as it

Half of the reason I wanted to go was to give the boys another trip on the train, the first since our adventure back in November. They were appropriately appreciative, even when tired out at the end of the day.

Harvey and Zion on the Red Line platform

the way home

Lijah turns out to be a big fan as well: he was shining with excitement and delight all the way there. That the same excitement kept him from falling asleep on the way home—despite a great and obvious need—until just before our last stop was unfortunate but maybe predictable. We'll give him another chance in a couple months.


multi-family cycle adventure number one

One of the families we invited for our Patriots Day picnic was so invested in the bike ride part of the proceedings that they got a new trail-a-bike for the purpose. When the cycling part of the day was canceled we naturally scheduled a make-up ride at the first available opportunity. It turned out that some other families wanted to come too.

kids and grownups riding on the bike path

group riders

We ended up with seven adults and ten kids, five of whom were under five. Four of the kids were on their own bikes, two on trail-a-bikes, two in Leah's blue bike, and two in copilot seats. The ride up to Lexington was marred slightly by a flat and some uncertainty about our ability to make it the whole way, so when we got there everyone was delighted!

Zion playing on the Green in Lexington

happy to be out and about

Besides running around by Buckman Tavern we also stopped into the visitor center to see the Battle of Lexington Diorama, and also the bathrooms. But before too long we were back in the saddle for the trip home. It was much more relaxing that the outward journey, since everyone was flush with confidence and snacks, and it was mostly downhill. Harvey and Ollie enjoyed chatting as they rode.

Harvey on his own bike and Ollie on the Trail-a-Bike behind his dad talking as they ride

happily chatting

Zion and Clara took in the sights.

Zion and Clara smile at the camera from the bucket on the blue bike

I don't know how much they had to say to each other

And Lijah fell asleep, eventually.

Lijah asleep in the copilot seat behind me

worn out from the ride

When we got home we—I mean, Luke—fired up the grill to feed the hungry crowd a well-deserved dinner. Then it was my job to convert the charcoal fire to wood for the marshmallow toasting.

Bruce and Gillian toasting marshmallows over the fire in the grill

blurry from the heat

Since marshmallows are more an experience than a desert, we also had ice cream. Lijah very much enjoyed his first Bedford Farms of the season.

Leah holding Lijah, Lijah holding an ice cream cone


It was good. We'll do it again.