Grandchildren's visit provides fresh view of region's
© by Barbara Anderson
The Salem News
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Over the country and up Route 1A, to grandmother's house we go.
It's farther than "over the river and through the woods," but a definite
improvement over earlier generational separations, when new families
left grandparents behind in order to populate new countries and
continents, never to return.
Each year, either I fly to Nevada or Lance, Mary and the twins come
east. This year, it was their turn to travel and they did, landing at
Logan, driving to a family reunion of my ex-husband's family in New
Jersey, then returning to Marblehead after visiting a college friend in
In early July, in preparation for their visit, I began clipping "things
to do" from newspapers, taping them to both sides of a large piece of
cardboard so they could choose activities. There wasn't time to do
everything: instead of the Pirate Museum in Salem (saved for the next
trip), we drove to the New England Sand Sculpting Festival on Revere
Beach, with its pirate theme.
Instead of Dinosaur Crossing in Connecticut and the Butterfly Place in
Westford, we took the MBTA to Boston's Museum of Science, where we saw
the IMAX film, "Dinosaurs Live!" and the museum's own butterfly garden.
Instead of a show at the North Shore Music Theatre (saved for the next
trip), we took a picnic supper to an oldies concert at Castle Hill in
Ipswich, after taking a nature walk in the Ipswich River Wildlife
The four of them camp, hike and kayak in the Sierra Nevada mountains and
the parents wanted the 6-year-olds to experience "Eastern woods." They
saw deer, turtles, a bear in western Massachusetts, ibis and other birds
different from the ones they see in Nevada.
Aidan, however, announced that the real difference between Western and
Eastern woods is that there are more bugs here. He doesn't get many
mosquito bites in the high desert and mountains. On the other hand, he
especially enjoyed taking a walk with an umbrella, which is rarely
needed at home.
Some of the food for the picnic we bought at Russell Orchards on Argilla
Road in Ipswich. I've always stopped there when delivering petitions to
town halls, but this time I had to purchase the fudge while the family
was choosing vegetables, then eat it when no one was looking.
The kids were allowed to have honeysticks, though; a different kind of
sugar, I guess. Entertaining vegetarians is always a challenging
We shopped Saturday at the Marblehead farmers market and were all eating
fresh local strawberries and blueberries throughout the visit. We also
got corn on the cob which my partner, Chip Ford, grilled in the husk one
evening with fresh fish from Rowand's fish market in Beverly (along with
a hot dog for independent-minded Aidan).
This was the best meal of the vacation, since local restaurant visits
somewhat disappointed. Note to Lime Rickey's: A hummus vegetable wrap
needs a lot more hummus; and to Three Cod Tavern: A Caesar salad
requires romaine lettuce and a serious Caesar dressing.
All five of us are Harry Potter fans, so we went to the launching party
at the Spirit of '76 bookstore in Marblehead, three of us in costume,
two adults wearing home-made "Muggle and Proud" buttons. When we got
home, I was allowed to serve root beer floats while we watched the
fourth Harry Potter movie on DVD.
Mary spent the next day truly "on vacation," reading the last book.
Lance, Aidan, Maya and I went to the playground at Devereaux Beach, then
to Old Burial Hill where they played hide-and-seek among the tombstones
with another family and "sailed" plastic boats at Redd's Pond.
Aidan, who had stated at his recent graduation from kindergarten that he
wanted to be a "quad racer" when he grows up, did get to ride quads at
his grumpaw's and in western Massachusetts; but after watching the
fishing at Redd's, he decided he will be a fisherman. However, though
enjoying a day on the sailboat with Chip, he also made it clear that he
will have a much faster motorboat.
While the men sailed in Salem Harbor, almost to Misery Island, Mary,
Maya and I went to Abbot Hall, where we were invited to read aloud the
letter from the Marquis de Lafayette that hangs in the selectmen's room
with the "Spirit of '76" painting.
Maya got her hand up first, so to the surprise of the adults, she easily
read, "Gentlemen: While I have the satisfaction once more to enter a
town who so lately fought, and so truly Bled in the Great Contest,
Admiration mingles with the tender Concerns of a Simpathetic Heart,"
etc., stumbling only once when Lafayette spelled "honor" with a "u".
She and I took time to play with my rag doll collection, while Aidan and
I enjoyed our shared hobby of collecting rocks. We took a quick shopping
trip to Salem's Pyramid Bookstore, where the twins each got a rubbing
stone. But just a walk around the neighborhood and through the garden is
lots of fun with 6-year-old grandchildren.
They travel often to California and Mexico, but thoroughly enjoyed the
North Shore, as, even more than usual, did I.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and
Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and
Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the
Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.