Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dinosaurs and Dead People: A Boston Story

I’m doing a bit of travelling in the US. I spent the weekend in Boston with a few good friends, eating our way through the city and holding our potbellies off the ground. This is the essence of Boston:


Sad trees.

Old people.


How could I not like it?

We began the first day in the Boston Commons. The park was full of knobby, gnarled trees and shaggy willows. There were statues of famous American people like Paul Revere, riding his bronze horse. My friends and I came across the Freedom Trail at the far side of the park – a long, red line that weaves through Boston and connects the historical sights.

At least half of my pictures from Boston are of headstones in graveyards. I zigzagged through the Granary Burying Ground, the third oldest cemetery, noticing such Bostonians as John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and the victims of the Boston Massacre. The headstones were decorated with winged cherubs or winged skulls. One displayed a skull and crossbones, which caused me to suspect that I was on the grave of a landlocked pirate. The more famous people had piles of pennies tossed before their gravestones to spend in the slot machines of the afterlife.

            At the King’s Chapel, we found none of the ghosts that supposedly haunt the grounds, merely a well-stocked cemetery. The chapel’s burial ground is the oldest in Boston. Signs around the path requested that people stay off of the grass and refrain from “grave rubbing.” There are some strange people in Boston.

We could have gone to the meeting house where the Boston Tea Party was planned, but we were too hungry to be good Americans, so my fellow travelers and I headed to the North End. Veering off from the main street of Italian restaurants, we found small place called Dino’s. I had some tasty pumpkin tortellini, which I don’t recommend in combination with cranberry juice.

Later we found a place to sit by the ocean and calmly watched the passing nuns. I realized when I finally tried to stand up that I had unknowingly sat in melted ice cream and my pants were glued to the bench.

The next day I set off again in a different pair of pants. My companions stopped at Quincy Market for lunch where I adventurously ingested a Greek salad. For dessert, we went back to the North End to stop at Mike’s Pastry. All through Boston I observed people towing white Mike’s boxes all tied up with string containing wondrous confectionery mysteries.

The shop was predictably crowded and I ordered a Florentine cannoli that I saw from behind some taller people. Unlike the traditional cannoli, this one was covered in some sort of caramel, had the texture of peanut brittle, and came with a vial of insulin on the side. We nibbled our pastries outside of the Boston Museum of Science and required a great many napkins.

We had tickets for two shows at the Museum of Science. The first was an IMAX show about Australia, where we learned that kangaroos can freeze the growth of their embryos in times of drought and that shiny-eyed frogs can hibernate under gooey membranes for years on end. We watched a second show about collisions in space in the newly-renovated planetarium. The seats were remarkably comfortable and I found that it was the perfect place to take a much needed accidental nap.

We wandered through the exhibits, seeing tree-climbing snakes and dinosaur bones. The best exhibit was an infrared camera that showed your levels of body heat. We discovered that anything you touch temporarily turns a hot color and that my braid has a gradient. I decided that it is necessary for me to procure an infrared camera, which is entirely feasibly on a writer’s salary.

Before we returned home, my companions and I took a walk beside the Charles River and watched the sailboats and swans.

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