A Few Minutes at the Gables

I know, I’m supposed to be blogging about Halloween, but, I still have a Salem garden or two to get in before the frost hits. I thought I’d make it to lots of places this summer and then it just seemed to go so quickly! That’s okay, I like having a long list of places that I’d like to show you someday.  I had a few errands to run yesterday and found myself parked in front of the House of the Seven Gables.  I used to love to look around their garden and I hadn’t been by there in a very long time so I thought I’d stop in for a few minutes. Years ago the garden and grounds were open to the public but now the grounds can be enjoyed with a ticket. When I asked if I could take a few photos for my blog I was readily admitted and allowed to wander with my camera. It really is a unique and special place. The site includes a visitor center,  the very famous “House of Seven Gables” which is open by guided tour, a gift shop, a Kids Cove and the home that Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in.

The seaside garden is really beautiful. The raised beds are full of annuals and perennials.  It’s colorful and has a historic feel.

This shady pergola is such a nice place to sit and relax.

The lawn in front of the sea wall is often the site of functions and special events. And the view of the Derby Lighthouse from the lawn is quite unique.

When I zoomed in on the lighthouse, Forest River Park popped into the background. The park is quite a distance away from the wharf, I’d estimate at least a half mile? Doesn’t it look closer?  Here’s our favorite ship… remember the view of the gables from Derby wharf that I posted a few weeks ago?A fun play space for kids..and another one… this must be relatively new. If your worried about taking small children into the rather delicate, historic houses this is a great alternative!Lots of things to see and do…Here’s Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace which was moved to the site in 1958. I always find it touching that this was preserved and placed in such a fitting spot.

Another view of the garden, and a good number of people enjoying it on a quiet Tuesday morning.

Let’s not forget the House of the Seven Gables, itself! I haven’t been on a tour inside in many years but I remember it as just fascinating. There’s twist and turns, great furniture and architecture and plenty of history. If you read the famous novel you will really enjoy seeing this home. It was being painted yesterday. Maintaining homes that are located right on the water is a huge commitment. It must be painted often!

It’s a great stop if your in town for a visit, or if your a resident. There’s something for everyone here.

Of course, my eyes are always on the flowers, but the history, charm and wonderful salt air will draw any visitor in!

Have a wonderful day! Enjoy everything!

Michele

Salem 101: A Walk on Derby Wharf

Here in Salem we have access to ocean air and history all year round. One of the best places to experience this is out on Derby Wharf. It’s a great place to walk and play. The wharf is located right on Derby Street and is part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Pedrick’s Store House is the only building on the wharf. Historically the wharf was lined with warehouses like this that stored goods that came in on ships from all over the world. This building is originally from Marblehead and was moved to Derby Wharf a few years ago.
Next stop on the right is the Friendship, the centerpiece of the historic site, if not the whole city! Friendship is a fully rigged ship that was built by the National Park Service with the support of the Salem Partnership. She provides lots of educational opportunities for visitors from near and far.  Everyone loves the ship!  (Does anyone know this guy on the bike?)  😉She really is a work of art. Did you know that ships are always referred to as “she’s”?  I’m going to have to research this and do a post on why that’s so. This sounds like a good winter project.I love this view of the NPS flag and the American flag together.
Going a few steps further out you’ll find these great exhibits. They teach about navigation and Salem’s maritime history and they add a huge element of fun when you walk with kids!I think my little guy was testing his running speed in nautical miles per hour here.One of the neat things about these exhibits is that their designed to blend in with the wharf. When you look out from the street, or even walk along the path, their very slim and discrete. They tell the story of all that happened on the waterfront over time. 

We’ve reached our destination, the lighthouse!

 I remember sitting on the ground on the other side with my eyes closed  (obviously many, many years ago before kids) and opening them to see a huge German Shepherd standing right over me. He scared me half to death! We were both fine but I think of that dog every time I’m out there.
There’s always lots and lots of boat traffic. It’s fun to watch everything from party boats, to lobster boats to yachts going by.And then there’s the view out to the open ocean. I love to stand here and just breathe in that air!

Turn around and there’s a great view of the houses on Derby Street.

You can’t quite see it but when we were first married Michael and I lived in a little loft apartment over the blue building on the right. The House of Seven Gables is just to the right.Here’s a closer shot. Walking in, more exhibits…

And back to Derby Street!

It’s nice to take a rest in the shade of one of these yards. Their all part of the National Historic Site, so everyone is welcome!

This is really one of my favorite walks in the world. You just can’t beat it, history, exercise and nature all in one place. If you make your way to Salem as a visitor, or if you live here, take a few minutes to take a walk on the wharf!

Michele

Awesome Camping, Right Here in Salem!

I love camping! This week I decided to pack the kids up and head down to Winter Island for a few days.  Winter Island is a city park that is an island (connected by a causeway) right on the ocean.  It has a few amenities like a very rustic bathhouse and a camp store but it’s really all about the beach, the water and a little bit of history.

We’ve been going to the beach there for twenty five years but had never family camped. I was amazed that I could be so “on vacation” this close to home.

Our campsite was wooded and spacious.

And  the  views are spectacular!

This is looking in toward Derby Wharf and the city.

The island was historically a fort and more recently a coast guard base.

Here’s a post about it’s history that was written by  Salem blogger Beth Melillo a few weeks ago:

http://connectshore.com/2012/07/03/winter-island-a-personal-and-public-history/

There’s always something interesting to ponder.

Was this building used to store munitions or was it used for holding prisoners?

We really need to research that and figure it out.

Here’s the old sea plane hanger…

and a view from the back with one of the Salem Community Gardens sites in the foreground.

There’s the old barracks. I’d love to see this building restored and used again.

My kids have grown up playing at the playground.We used to go down for an hour before lunch and nap time when they were little.

There are flowers blooming all over the island.

One of the former caretakers loved to plant things and his handiwork is everywhere!

Casey’s gardens make me feel right at home.

The kids spent lots and lots of time exploring the tide pools…

Here’s a close up of some star fish that they found.

My little guy spends hours out there.

We did have to watch out for the critters that came out at night.

There were ground hogs and wharf rats. One night a skunk wandered right through our site as I was tucking the kids in.

We knew it was time to head home very early yesterday morning when Michael caught a raccoon pulling a bag of marshmallows through this hole that he (the raccoon) had chewed in our tent!

A little duct tape to repair the hole is nothing compared to wonderful family time and views like this!

Whether you spend a few hours or a few days, Winter Island is a perfect place to relax and get away!

Salem 101: Bewitched!

This statue has become a landmark in Salem. Can you tell who it is?

 

Here’s a closeup of her face

Of course, it’s the late Elizabeth Montgomery portraying Samantha Stevens on the Bewitched TV show!

What child of the sixties doesn’t remember watching Samantha and all of her adventures? In June of 2005 this statue was installed and dedicated here in Salem. It was donated to the city by the TV Land Network. There was quite a bit of controversy in the days leading up to the unveiling. Only two Bewitched episodes were said to be filmed here, so it’s relevance to our city’s history was widely questioned.  Some felt that it took away from the seriousness and tragedy of the  witch trials.

There was lots of excitement on the day of the reveal.  I didn’t attend, possibly because my fifth child was three months old  and the thought of taking five children under the age of eleven downtown to see a statue unveiled compromised my ability to breathe properly.  I believe that members of the cast were here, including the actress who played Tabitha. It was a big event!

It seems that Samantha has settled in comfortably. She’s become a landmark  in the center of a long row of wonderful restaurants. Salem’s downtown is hopping these days, and while Samantha doesn’t exactly represent the serious side of Salem,  she definitely adds a whimsical element to a city that is well-known for fun and whimsy.

Salem 101: A Walk around Salem Common

Yesterday I spent some time walking around Salem Common, a nine acre public park right in the middle of the city. It’s been public land for hundreds of years and was originally used as a pasture  in the 1600s, with ponds and a stream running though it. It was designated as a military training ground in the 1600’s and still hosts a military muster once a year. You can read more about the Common’s history here  at http://www.salemweb.com/guide/common/

As a former resident of the neighborhood it’s always fun to take a walk and take in the sights.

 People meet here to exercise, walk, ride bikes and play.

There’s a beautiful new playground..

When our kids were small and we lived a few doors away I spent many, many hours under that tree!

 There was a different play structure but the very same view. Such happy memories!

The walking path is covered by trees so it’s shady and comfortable.

here’s the view coming around the northwest corner

The common is lined with beautiful historic mansions.

Many of them were designed by renowned architect Samuel McIntire.

He created the original version of this  wooden archway as well.

It’s said to have been made for a visit by George Washington.

The Gazebo is the true focal point…lots of fun happens here!

Everything from the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July

to prom and wedding photos being taken!

The Salem Witch Museum is located on one corner (the two young people above both happen to work there)

The Witch Museum is a great place to gain a clear understanding of what happened during the Witchcraft Hysteria that Salem is so well known for.

The Common is quintessential New England, full of history and fun… a beautiful place to relax and unwind!

Hope you’ll visit soon! Hint, hint to all of my family and friends who are still planning their summer vacations  🙂

Have a great day! Enjoy Everything!

Michele

Salem 101: Where are We? On the Ocean!

I’m always surprised when friends and family really don’t know where Salem, Massachusetts is located. They often think that it’s in the western part of the state or in Boston or New Hampshire (there is a Salem in New Hampshire about an hour away).. We are actually about fifteen miles north of Boston, right on the coast. It’s a very convenient location. We can be in the city (we call Boston the city here) in about forty minutes, less in good traffic. The mountains of New Hampshire are two hours north, and Cape Cod is the same distance to the south. And we have the ocean and all that it offers. 

 

 

We love to  sit and watch the boats

Or relax on the rocks at Waikiki Beach, one of our favorite things to do! Here’s my little guy a few years ago

and more recently, he’s gets bigger and more adventurous all the time!

There are tide pools to explore!

We even have a polar bear plunge on New Years Day! (that’s snow on the beach in the background)

Salem is all about the ocean and the views here are beautiful, all year round!

There are several cities and towns called “Salem” in the United States, but this one is truly unique!

Enjoy your day!  Thanks for stopping by!  Michele