Friday, January 27, 2012

American Heritage

One of my favorite places to visit in the United States is New England. Those of you who know me in real life probably think it’s because I’m a Pats fan, but that’s just a bonus. =) It’s also not just because my massive extended family lives out there, even though it was my impetus for visiting and therefore falling in love with it.
New England has this homey, old feel to it. Like a cabin you’ve spent a few vacations in, it’s always ready to welcome you back. The people are the most up front, real people you’ll meet. This might not be too amazing to some of you, but I live in Southern California so real personality is a treasure when I find it! Whether it’s Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut or New Hampshire, this part of the US has many things to offer no matter what season. And oh, what seasons they have!
Spring can be cold and rainy, and known for knocking out the power, but what it leads to is a summer that is green, green, and green! Summer in New England is generally hot and humid. This doesn’t bother me, and in the summer I usually visit in July for the Saint Mary’s feast day in my family’s town of Cranston, Rhode Island. It’s an old world tradition from the immigrants who came from the Itri area of Italy to live in the town. The third Sunday in July is the feast day and it starts with a Mass at Saint Mary Catholic Church. After Mass, the church’s clergy, and other fraternal organizations affiliated with the church, walk the effigy of the Madonna and Child down the main streets of Cranston. They stop every so often for townspeople to be blessed. Afterward there is a big carnival, and people retreat to friends’ homes for the “feasts”. Weekends tend to be spent with family and friends down in Narragansett on the peninsula, playing on the shore and digging for quahogs (clams).
Late summer brings “Indian Summer” which is warm days and evenings with a slight nip in the air, reminding one that fall is well on its way. It’s a good time to visit Massachusetts and walk the Freedom Trail to learn about our Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. You’ll see Paul Revere’s house, stroll through the cobblestone lanes of the North End where you might pick up a little Italian, and hike up Bunker Hill. Visit the colonial era taverns, the farmer’s market, and the hauntingly poignant glass Holocaust Memorial which is situated along a green belt between two main streets. When you’re hungry, sit yourself in an old tavern to learn the difference between New England and Manhattan clam chowder.
For those who like the outdoors, Minuteman National Park is just a short drive away. Located between Concord and Lexington, it’s a five mile stretch of the path the Redcoats marched from Boston into Lexington to “raid” the colonists. There is a colonial era tavern located in the park with live action demonstrations with muskets and war tactics of the revolutionaries. Many a fierce battle was fought along this path, as you’ll realize when you see stones marking the burial places of British soldiers who were buried on site.
After Lexington, you can drive to Concord to visit Walden Pond and ponder Whitman, Alcott and other existentialist writers while you walk along the path surrounding the lake. Concord is a beautiful little town filled with colonial era cottages, a small museum, and many ways to spend an enjoyable afternoon.
What trip to New England would be complete without a visit to Salem, Massachusetts? Learn the real, tragic story behind the witch trials, visit the Essex-Peabody Museum, and lunch along the waterfront. Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables is there to tour, along with the history of Salem’s harbor, which was the only shipping port in the area before Boston was opened. One of the oldest surviving cemeteries is right behind the museum, near the pedestrian thoroughfare filled with ice cream shops and tourist memorabilia.
I generally write about Europe and other far flung locations to visit, but New England is not only a great getaway for adults, it’s fantastic for families as well for an educational but fun vacation.
Italian North End of Boston                          

Bunker Hill, Boston                                                                

The Old North Church- "One if By Land, Two if By Sea!"

Narragansett Peninsula, Rhode Island              

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