BPL Offering Free Gardening Kits

Boston Public Library Gardening Kit

A few years ago, I remember reading about seed libraries and thinking that it was a wonderful idea for those interested in gardening. The idea has taken off and you can probably find one near you or even start your own.

What is a seed library? Pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a place, like a library, that shares seeds with people in the local community. The specific rules may vary from place to place, but you can generally get seeds for free or at a low price.

While you can have seeds for houseplants, flowers and herbs, having seeds for growing fruits and vegetables provides a way to strengthen food security. In other words, being intentional about keeping seeds for growing food allows some independence from the mainstream food system.

Food is delicious and fun. But it’s also a necessity for life and therefore political. There is enough food for everyone, but everyone doesn’t have enough. Systems in place need changing.

As we leave the pandemic, more of us are thinking differently about life and welcoming systemic change. This week I had my second COVID-19 vaccine, so I’m looking forward to normal life again. However, I’m hoping the new normal is better than the old one.

Seed libraries provide the literal seeds to grow our own gardens. Starting on May 5th, gardening kits were available from the Boston Public Library – 850 kits spread out among the branches.

You can choose from two types of gardening kits. Resilient Gardening Kits include everything you need for a veggie garden. For those with a focus on herbal remedies, Herbal Wildflower Kits contain what you’ll need. Take a look at the BPL website for more information on how to pick-up your kit. I’m not sure how long these will last, therefore, it’s probably best to go sooner than later. Happy planting!

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Screenshot: Boston Public Library

Stonehenge In Quincy. Have You Seen It?

Quincy's Mini Stonehenge

During these pandemic times, while driving to the highway, on the side of the road, I noticed a series of stones in front of a house. Over the last several months, the order of the stones has changed. They started piling up and forming a circle.

Huh. Something was going on here. I wanted to take a closer look. Yesterday, I had the time and the weather cooperated. So I pulled over and took some pictures.

Who did this?! There’s a mini Stonehenge here in Quincy! I love a good mystery and this has grabbed my attention.

While Quincy’s Stonehenge lacks the grandeur of the original in England, something and someone is behind it. Has the pandemic inspired someone to reflect on Quincy’s famed granite industry and pay hommage to it? Or maybe they’re just bored and wanted to try something new.

My time travel loving self imagines it’s a portal to an alternate reality. If I stood in the center of the circle, on the night of a full moon, danced around a bit with magical intentions and touched a stone, maybe I would go poof! Just like in Outlander — traveling to the past or maybe the future. Because my logical mind will overrule the urge to find out, I’ll never know.

I’m not sure if this is the final arrangement of the stones and I’m hoping the display continues to grow.

Next month brings the summer solstice, which is connected to Stonehenge. The person or persons behind this monument of stones could have something more planned. Maybe, just maybe, there will be dancing around these stones yet. But at sunrise on June 20th.

Quote of the Week: John Adams

“Posterity!
You will never know, how much it cost the present generation, to preserve your freedom!
I hope you will make a good use of it.
If you do not, I shall repent in heaven, that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

~ John Adams

Thinking about the presidential election has occupied way too much of my thoughts. Especially over the last couple of months. And the last couple of weeks. But how can I not think about it?

At the end of September, I visited Peacefield, which is part of the national park system and the historic home of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. It’s not even a ten minute drive from my house, so one day when I was feeling especially distressed, I decided to visit the garden. I walked around and then sat for a bit. Looking at the old house.

And then I prayed. Prayed to the spirits of those presidents to protect this country and keep our democracy. When John Adams spoke of posterity in the quote above, I took it personally. Posterity included me and he was thinking about me and the people in this time.

If these former presidents had any kind of pull with the election, I figured that going to their former home might be enough to get my prayers over to the other side. Autumn is said to be the time when the veil between life and death is thinnest, so I might as well take advantage of the season.

I looked at the magnificent tree in the garden and wondered about all that it has lived through. How long had it been there? Did its roots begin back when these presidents were alive? Did they sit and admire it too?

Joe Biden won the election, but our current president is doing everything to prevent a peaceful transfer of power. He has no respect for democracy. He has no respect for anything. I fear for our nation.

It’s been about three weeks since I last blogged, which is far less than normal. I’ve been waiting for something definitive to write about and to feel less stress about the democratic process. But the stress is still here. When I’m upset, sometimes I stop writing. But that’s the time that I need to write even more.

So I’m writing. But like with the pandemic, we are stuck in the in between. Waiting for the inauguration in January when Biden’s presidency will be real. Waiting for the vaccine, so we can start a new normal way of life without the virus. Just waiting.

Until then, I’ll write for the future. One day, months or years from now, I’ll look back at this post and feel grateful that this period in time is over and our country is still standing. And hopefully John Adams does not regret the pains he took.

Snow Season Begins

first snow of the season

Unbelievable. The day before Halloween and we’ve already had a real snowfall. More than three inches in the Boston area! There are still colorful leaves on the trees! I’m not a fan of winter or snow. But there’s no fighting Mother Nature, so all we can do is settle in and accept the change in season.

Daylight Savings Time ends tomorrow and we turn the clocks back. Now it will be dark at 5pm. These colder months are the season for turning inward and reflecting, while we stay indoors more as well.

For me, appreciating the change in season is a deliberate practice that I’ve cultivated over the past couple of years. Over a year, I noted what was special about each month. Because each month has its merits. Without winter, we can’t get to spring and summer. Below is part of what I wrote about October.

A cup of hot tea.

Looking out a window at the sky.

The sparks and crackle of an outdoor fire

that warms your hands

and smoke that smells like memories.

The Best Of New England

New England scene showing pumpkins and a field with haystacks

My mom and I recently went to a farm stand. It was so perfectly New England in late summer moving into fall. The pumpkins, stacks of hay, freshly picked vegetables and fruits remind me of the beauty in Massachusetts.

Given the levels of trauma and sadness happening in this country on a daily basis, any degree of serenity and peace I can find is a much needed gift. So with this roundup post, I’m celebrating some the best of things in New England.

Best Drive-In Movies

Going to drive-in movies is a thing again because of the pandemic. I remember going a few times when I was very young and having a blast. Fodor’s Travel lists ten of the best drive-in movie theaters around the country and three of them are in New England. With chilly weather here, it’s the perfect social distanced activity.

#3 Sunset Drive-In – Colchester, VT

#2 Mansfield Drive-In – Mansfield, CT

#1 Wellfleet Drive-In Theater – Wellflett, MA

Best Places To Live

As a third generation New Englander, I’m definitely biased, but there are many good things about living here. People travel here from all over the world to attend school. Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, our sports teams are some of the best. We have world class hospitals and medical care, which is especially important right now. Five places in New England made Money magazine’s list of the 50 best places to live in America.

#37  Salem, NH

#28  Chesire, CT

#26  Braintree, MA

#14  Chelmsford, MA

#12  South Windsor, CT

Best Craft Distilleries

Rhode Island Spirits, located in Pawtucket, came in third in USA Today’s list of the ten best new craft distilleries.  They sell organic and gluten free gins, vodkas and liqueurs. This reminds me of the great time I had touring a rum distillery with my father.

Best Pizza

The Daily Meal recently declared the top 101 pizza places in the United States. Several New England pizza places made the cut. Connecticut has the most places on the list of the New England states and beats the entire country with the number one spot. Mystic Pizza is arguably Connecticut’s most well-know pizzeria and the movie by the same name helped launch Julia Robert into stardom. Back in January 2019, Playbill wrote that Melissa Etheridge was working on the score to a stage adaptation of the movie. Despite the fame of the pizza shop, it’s not on the list.

#90 Micucci Grocery – Portland, ME

#86 Slab – Portland, ME

#67 Al Forno, Providence, RI

#47 BAR – New Haven, CT

#45 Zuppardi’s Apizza – West Haven, CT

#43 Colony Grill – Stamford, CT

#40 Tilton House of Pizza – Tilton, NH

#25 Galleria Umberto – Boston, MA

#16 Modern Apizza – New Haven, CT

#9 Sally’s Apizza– New Haven, CT

#7 Santarpio’s – East Boston, MA

#1 Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana – New Haven, CT

Best Scents

I can’t claim that these are the best scented candles, but I like the idea of them. The brand is called Homesick and the scents are supposed to remind you of a place.

Scent is a big thing for me, so I was thrilled when I was invited to take a smell walk in Boston. That walk focused on scent was one of the coolest things that I’ve done as a blogger.

The Boston candle is described as “Fall days spent wandering the cobblestone streets. Notes of spiced tea with clove and orange capture the City on a Hill.”

There are a few more city candles and state candles too. I think these would make a great gift. To wind up this roundup, here are the descriptions of the scents for each of the New England states.

Connecticut: “Warm-baked pies fragrant of nutmeg, clove and lemon. Eucalyptus and oakmoss evoke memories of brisk fall afternoons spent outside.”

Maine: “Reminiscent of wild Maine blueberries and lavender fields. Woody notes of cedarwood and patchouli balanced with a floral bouquet.”

Massachusetts: “Apple cider, simmering coffee, and just-baked donuts. Sweet hints of tonka bean are balanced by spicy cinnamon and a touch of fragrant clove.”

New Hampshire: “Cozy up with a cup of hot apple cider. Autumn days spent outside with views of foliage and the sweet smell of vanilla in the air.”

Rhode Island: “An afternoon on the Cliff Walk with hot apple cider and cozy sweaters to keep warm. The rolling tides carry the sweet and spicy scents of fall.”

Vermont: “Vibrant foliage covers the rolling hills of the Green Mountain State. Scents of cinnamon and apple pie blend with decadent maple syrup.”

What do you think? Do these scents represent the best of New England? And just because you might like it, here’s a cider donut locator. It doesn’t get much more New England than that.