July in Massachusetts goes by so fast… but at least I was able to document my favorite July event: the annual St. Mary of Carmen festival in Newton. It’s an extra special treat when you can walk to it, realizing that you can be so close to home, and still experience all the magic of travelling to some far away land. This year was number 78. If you missed it, best to mark next year’s calendar for the 79th anniversary. I know I’m already looking forward to it.



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Spring Fling

IMG_0240Worcester had it’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 10th this year. Though it felt a bit strange to celebrate a one-day holiday a full week early, you couldn’t have asked for better weather. Considering what the rest of March has been like, the 50 plus degrees and sunshine felt like a true spring break. And everyone seemed to use the parade as an excuse to  finally get outside. I only wish it had been more prescient of days to come… I’ve gone stir crazy all over again.


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Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

In honor of the start of spring training,  I thought I would post some pictures to remind us that winter truly does end, and it really does get warm enough around here to enjoy a night game at Fenway Park while wearing shorts. Though the Red Sox themselves have proven nothing short of disappointing of late, Fenway never stops feeling like an old friend.

And, the good news is, that when the Sox suck, there are tickets. I, for one, can’t wait until April.

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Gothic Revival

Time to play catch up for a while… time seems to have just slipped by lately. I didn’t even hardly notice November.

This photo is from October. Though I have walked by the Evangelical Baptist Church in Newton, Massachusetts hundreds of times, only recently did I notice its amazing architecture. Built in 1873 in the Gothic Revival style, it feels much more like old Europe than its more blue collar surroundings. All the better on a misty autumn morning.

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Bite a Big Apple

No not the Big Apple. A big apple. This is a blog about Massachusetts.

The Red Apple Farm, just a little ways off Route 2 in Phillipston, is one of my favorite autumn destinations. It happens to have the highest elevation of any commercial apple orchard in New England, which might or might not actually make their apples better, but it definitely gives the place a unique pristine quality.  It’s kind of like what you’d expect from a New England apple orchard if you had only experienced one through post cards.

I highly recommend the Red Apple Farm at any time during apple picking season- they have all the antique and heirloom apples (Northern Spy, Pippin, etc.) that most orchards don’t, not to mention some amazing cider donuts, unpasteurized cider, and pumpkin ice cream. But the weekend before Thanksgiving, when the apples are long off the trees, it’s worth making the trip out to enjoy their harvest festival.

Buy apples, Smith’s Farmstead cheese and Clover Hill Farm cranberries for your thanksgiving table, try your hand at archery or hay bale tossing, watch the awe-inspiring pumpkin trebuchet, drink beer and cider, eat outdoor bar-b-que by the apple-wood fire, and pregame your thanksgiving pie with loads of hot cider donuts and warm apple crisp.

Yeah… Thanksgiving is now officially a season. Screw this Christmas before December 1st bulls*&t.

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Battle Hymn of Green Hill Park

Green Hill Park in Worcester is a great place to take a walk through the woods. Or visit the tranquil Vietnam memorial. Or fish. Or golf. Or picnic.

Or, apparently, spend some time in the thoroughly retro 1860s.  

In what is looking to become an incredibly popular annual October event, Green Hill park transforms itself into a weekend of living Civil War- era history, complete with re-enactments of battles, encampments and shops. With ample opportunity to buy old buttons, fifes and hoop skirts, observe weapons demos, fire-top cooking and canon fire, the park feels relatively empty and lonely every time I’ve gone back since. 

The full scale battle re-enactment, a full hour of musket fire and sulfur stench, blood smeared medic and Confederate retreat was, of course, the best part of the day. I even got a chance to meet Robert E. Lee. He was on his way to the Port-o-Potty. I guess there is something to be said for modern convenience. 

You can learn more about the Re-enactment at the Central Mass Chamber of Commerce.

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Walk on the Waterfront

The last weekend of September was chock full of events, including the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival, the Fitchburg Forge-in and the Fluff Festival in Somerville. But I wanted to do something different than what I have been doing, so we drove way way down to New Bedford. Honestly, it is hard to believe how far away some things in Massachusetts are from other places in Massachusetts considering how supposedly small Massachusetts is.

The New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival is a celebration of all things fishing in southeastern Massachusetts, with opportunities to tour a scalloper, learn how to cook monkfish, listen to modern day sea shanties, watch a net mending contest, shop, eat, and take in the beauty that is downtown New Bedford and its harbor. 

 It was certainly a visual change from the usual street fairs and harvest fests I’ve been gravitating to. I mean, how often do you see a whole cod lying around?

Still, they’ve got some big ships down there, and the cold grey day seemed fitting. I enjoyed it despite the drizzle, the swarm of Elizabeth Warren sign holders that blocked the sidewalk between piers, not having enough money to buy the handmade witch’s purse necklace I wanted (link added only to show how amazing Hannah Blount’s jewelery is), and having no desire to eat anything battered and fried.

Okay yes, I missed the Garlic Festival. I wish it was geographically feasible to do both, but there’s always next year.



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No Lifeguard on Duty

Of course, once you have your donuts in hand, it would be silly NOT to hit up Crane’s Beach, just a little further down the road.

I have been to many a North Shore beach, but Crane’s is my favorite, partly from tradition, partly because its shore stretches on for miles and miles. So, even after Labor Day, when Summer’s heat and crowds are long gone and there is little incentive (except stubborn pride) to wade into 50 degree ocean waters, it’s even more fun to be there.This time, I happened to visit when the baby clams made their first emergence into open air. It was admittedly a weird sight, since they squirt water and make little sucking sounds and, with the millions of them that blanketed the sand, it was quite difficult to find footing that allowed me to claim “no clams were harmed in the taking of these photos.”

Personally, I prefer my clams full-sized, so that I may enjoy them properly; battered and fried…

…But that’s another story that will have to wait. I was always taught that you should not eat fried clams in any month with an “R” in the name. 

I’m not sure why that is, but I’ll hold out until May anyway.

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En Route

I think my favorite drive in all of Massachusetts is to head up north on 128, eventually meandering over to Argilla road in Ipswich, towards Crane’s Beach. It’s one of a few ritualistic treks that I have completed every year of my cognizant life and, I believe, the only one that doesn’t involve New Hampshire (by definition disqualifying the others from this blog). One necessity before hitting the beach, however, is a stop at Russell Orchards.

If you’ve ever been to Russell, you know why you have to stop there. If you haven’t, then it’s hard to explain, because even though they grow a seemingly infinite variety of fruits, make a dozen or so varieties of wine, sell fresh, from-scratch baked goods, cider donuts and their own honey, and their geese are quite fun to chase, none of that really does the place justice.

That said, if you don’t grab a bag of cider donuts to take with you to the beach, you haven’t really done yourself justice either.

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Back to Start

It was once again time for Worcester’s stART on the Street (Fall Edition) and I’m pretty certain it was the biggest stART yet, densely extending from Highland to Chandler streets with hundreds of vendors, endless entertainment, an impressive food court and a couple of food trucks. But, despite all the fun, I am really beginning to think that stART and I weren’t meant to blog together. I actually had my camera this time, but it was a few hours in and I hadn’t take one single good picture. I kept feeling like I had the wrong lens and then I was in shade, then sun, then the sun was directly overhead, then in front of me, then behind me… I didn’t even have time to eat kettle corn I was so busy missing really good pictures. My photo buddy, on the other hand, did get a bunch of wonderful shots you can see here. Eventually I gave up, just sat down on the curb and took a few random pictures upward. I didn’t expect to get too much out of it, so I’m pleased to have gotten the few that I did.

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