and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
July #4

Grandchildren's visit provides fresh view of region's charms
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 western Massachusetts.

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 Sanctuary.

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 experience, too.

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.