Extraordinary commonality

2 01 2014

Falling snow and beach surf share so much.

They are as common as can be. They can be beautiful or terrible in turn. And I never tire of watching them.


The First Time…

21 12 2011

It has come to my attention that people can be very nervous about the “first time.”

No, not that.

I’m talking about buying that first piece of original art. How many times have I heard, “Oh, I’d love to collect art, but I don’t know where to begin.” or “If I only had the money.” Lingering over a special piece, coming back week after week to visit, telling their friends about it after the exhibition is over.

You know the one.

The painting that calls your name, catches your eye, draws you closer daring you to take it home… hm… maybe there are more similarities to that other thing than I thought.

I have always been drawn to own original works of art. Not large or expensive, but meaningful and endlessly pleasing. The art hanging on the walls of my home does not match current trends; each piece has a story. And that story continues to unfold as the years go by.

In the next few weeks I will present a primer in buying art. Not “what” to buy, but “why” and “how.”

It’s going to be amazing, I promise!


9 06 2011

Crane Beach. Often listed as one of the best beaches in the country.

It’s in Ipswich. Less than half an hour’s drive from my home. And it’s a beautiful drive past farms, lovely antique homes, and the Great Marsh. As close as it is, I don’t get down there enough. To tell you the truth, I could be there every day, and it still wouldn’t be enough.

The water’s usually too cold for swimming, but I can sit and watch the waves roll in for hours. The sunburn on the tops of my feet attest to the fact that I did just that on Memorial Day. But in addition to the wave action, the horizon is a particular fascination of mine.

What’s the big deal? The horizon is simply where it appears the water meets the sky. It doesn’t, of course. This is a optical illusion caused by the curvature or the earth. That is, if you believe the earth is round; I’m sure the flat-earth people have their own explanation.

Just like the sea itself, the horizon has different moods. Sometimes it is so sharp it almost cuts the eyes. On other, cloudier, days the line is blurred, the bluegray water dissolving into the paler sky. On a recent visit to the beach, it was impossible to differentiate between water and sky. The ambiguity was dizzying. My brain wanted a point of reference, but there was none.

When I look to the future, I see the horizon… sometimes sharp, usually blurred, occasionally completely obscured.

Beach or trees?

10 02 2011

It was the biggest conflict we had.

While trying to choose where we wanted to live in New England, my husband and I agreed on most criteria: antique house, a bit more land than absolutely necessary, quiet neighborhood. But we went back and forth on whether we placed a higher priority on trees (living in a wooded area) or proximity to the ocean.

Ipswich solved the dilemma. With one foot on Crane’s Beach,

and the other deep in the woods of Outer Linebrook,

this town offered us the best of both. Our house is on the tree-y end of town but with ready access to the beach, we feel like we live “on the water.”

What we didn’t realize at the time, and have yet to take full advantage of is all the natural resources in between. There are walking trails in every part of town. Here’s a great website for maps and descriptions. A walking “club” meets every Wednesday to explore the various trails… Here’s their publicity blurb:

  • Weekly walks, sponsored by the Ipswich Bay Circuit Trail Committee, take place every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Meet at the Town Landing on East Street for a two-hour excursion. Explore trails in Willowdale State Forest, Bradley Palmer State Park, lands owned by the Town of Ipswich, Trustees of Reservations, Essex County Greenbelt, etc. Walks are scheduled mid-September to mid-June, with a short holiday break. Major snow, ice or steady rain cancels. All welcome. Questions?  Call Ed at 978-356-7196.

With this much snow on the ground, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are ways to enjoy these trails as well.

Another tremendous opportunity right here in town is the Ipswich River. Canoeing or kayaking on the river appears to be a perfectly lovely way to spend a (warmer) afternoon. (I remember canoeing with my family when I was a kid on the C&O Canal.) Foote Brothers have a good rental program those of us without our own canoes!

It might be a while before I get out and do this stuff, but it’s nice to dream…

What else should I be dreaming about? Do you have any favorite Ipswich outdoor activities?

Back at it…

25 01 2011

My last post was, what?, two weeks ago? I was so excited about posting every day at the beginning. But somehow the enthusiasm burned out. Why is that? We all DO want to eat better, exercise more, and spend more time with our families. There are as many articles written on why we break New Years resolutions as there are on making them, so I’m not going to try and out psych the psychologists…

Just getting back on the “horse”…

Is there anything more boring than talking about the weather? I know a songwriter who wrote a whole song about NOT talking about the weather. But, um… it’s been pretty dominant here in the ‘Swich these last two weeks. However you feel about the white stuff, we’ve had plenty of it!

The best part of any difficulty (digging nearly 2 feet of snow off your drive qualifies as a difficulty) is how it brings the best out in people.

After the blizzard I looked out across the vast expanse of our driveway, sighed and started digging. My wonderful husband was out of town, so it was up to me, with the help of the 9-year-old and the almost-grown offspring, to clear it. We do own a snowblower, but it is… shall we say… small? Electric.

Cute, huh?

Nothing like the monsters that look like such overkill most of the time. So we had to shovel off the top 8-12 inches before the machine could be employed.

All this to say, it was a long process. Our driveway has two entrances, and we were happy to get one cleared by the time the sun set. It was satisfying work, but there is physical limit…

Inside, after changing into dry clothes, I sat by the fire and listened to the neighborhood monster machines carving into the snowbanks. I was just glad our job was done.

Then my son came in and said, “um… Mom…”


“Someone… did the other side.”

Sure enough, peering out the side window, I could see our entire driveway, neatly carved out.

I still don’t know who did it, although I have my suspects.

I love this town.

Anybody else have any good-neighbor stories?

Oh, noooooooo!

10 01 2011

I have been informed that Ipswich… is not perfect.

I received a very sweet message from a friend, first outlining a bunch of GOOD stuff about this town: Ipswich Clambake, the waterways, Family Dollar Store… and people. And then my friend makes a very good point. We don’t have everything.

And she’s right.

We don’t.

There’s not much in the way of nightlife (at least if your definition of “night” extends much past 7 pm), there’s no movie theatre. Our only bookstore is the Book Nook in River’s Edge.

There’s also no Wal-Mart. No Denny’s. No Gap. And most important of all… no Starbucks.

You know what? I’m okay with that.

The lack of a Starbucks just might have been the reason I wanted to move to Ipswich. No, really. I love it that Zumi’s, Ipswich’s coffee shop, is run by an Ipswich family, and displays artwork by Ipswich artists. It’s our coffee shop, not a corporate idea of what an Ipswich coffee shop should look like.

Living out here in small-town America we do live without some things. That’s the reason many of us came here. Sure I have to trek on into Danvers and Peabody on occasion for ballet slippers, or  some other item that isn’t available in town. (And there’s nothing like a foray into a crowded Target to make me appreciate my quiet, deprived little home town.)

No, Ipswich isn’t perfect. Niether am I. I love her anyway.

P.S. What my friend needs most is a really good yoga class… anybody know of one? I don’t know a Yogi from a Beara, so I’m no help…

Imperfection has its charm… although I must admit this window has since been painted.

It happens…

8 01 2011

It happens a lot in Ipswich. And yet people get all excited and upset every time. There’s anticipation, fear, preparation.

I’m talking about snow here.

Snow is lightly falling, just like in the song. As far as I can find out, we’re looking at a couple of inches total. Looking out my window on Market Street, the roads are wet, and a little slushy, but utterly unobstructed.

So why was there such a mob scene at Market Basket? People buying up milk and toilet paper as if they’d never see them again. Are there New England snow traditions involving milk and/or toilet paper that I don’t know about? Can anybody explain?! Even under the worst conditions, you’re going to be able to get to the store in a couple of days… are you really going to have a toilet paper crisis in that time? I must be missing something…

In the mean time, my world is a study in gray and white.

Time to head home over the slushy roads… I wonder if I should stop and pick up some toilet paper?