Entry for Newbie Triathlon - Round 1
|“Hi, Honey. Just letting you know I made it safe. Thank you so much for such a wonderful birthday present! You wouldn’t believe the view I have! You’ll have to come back here with me some day – maybe for our anniversary?”
“Oh, the room is beautiful. The family that runs this place is very friendly. The wife, Martha, met me at the airport and described everything on the way here. She’s so sweet, about Mom’s age and so full of energy. We drove right by the Old North Church. I’m going to tour there tomorrow.”
“Yeah, I know I’m supposed to be relaxing and working on my writing, but what better way to inspire my muse than wander around the Birthplace of the Revolution? Did you realize they don’t know, for sure, where the Boston Tea Party happened? Martha said she’ll hook me up with a guided tour of some of the different possible sites and a few other major landmarks.”
“Yes, it’s a beautiful room, but you know me, I can’t stay put when there’s so much adventure around.”
“Okay, I’ll tell you about it. In the room is a canopy bed – did you ask them for a canopy bed?
“I figured, thank you. Anyway, it’s covered with a handmade quilt – wedding rings I think this pattern is called. It’s all done in shades of blue and green. The wood’s all mahogany: the dresser, the bed, the writing desk.”
“Yes, I’ll try to use the writing desk. The floors are all hardwood. The bathroom is awesome! It has a huge claw tub and a cute pedestal sink.”
“No, you always have to share the bathroom with the other guests in a bed and breakfast. Maybe I could take a soak at two in the morning after Musey-poo gets tired. Out the window I have a perfect view of Old Town. The side streets are so narrow, two cars can barely pass each other. Of course everything is brick. There’s a lovely pond right outside my window. I see a pair of swans out there now, and of course ducks and geese. The flowers are in bloom. I may take my laptop out there and write for a while. There’s a small grove of trees back behind this place.”
“Some kind of pine, the needles look like they might be juniper, but these stand pretty narrow and tall.”
“Okay, I’ll call you tomorrow. Give my love to the girls.”
I press the red button on my cell and sit down staring out the window for several minutes. This is a dream come true. So much history tied up in this place, I could get lost. There’s no time like the present to start exploring.
I step into the hallway, lock the door behind me with the skeleton key, and descend through the dark narrow stairwell. I grab a few crusts of bread Martha left on the porch so the guests can feed the birds.
A crisp breeze meets me when I opened the door. I zip my jacket to my chin and stroll down the brick footpath to the pond. I find a bench tucked in grove of trees, and sit down in the shade. I am sheltered from the wind here. This will be a beautiful place to write.
The ducks on the pond come to life, quacking and beating their wings. “Overfed birds, can’t even get off the ground,” I chide them, as if they care. I look around for the cause of the disturbance. A blonde-haired boy about 10 years old runs across the lawn chasing German shepherd. The dog lopes into the water, scattering birds in every direction. He swims two laps around the pond before climbing out and shaking himself off, soaking the boy and sending him into peals of laughter.
The boy spots me and jogs over. “Hi, I’m Daniel. My grandpa owns this place.”
“Well, hi, Daniel. You are a lucky young man to have a place like this in your family. Do you live here, too?”
“No, we live in Cambridge, but I’m staying here this week.”
“Is this your dog?”
“He’s Grandpa’s. I’m not supposed to let him out of his run if guests are outside, but I didn’t see you.”
“That’s okay, I like dogs. I won’t tell. What do you know about this place?”
“Oh, lots. Did you know there’s a secret passage under the stairs. The continental army used it as a hideout during the war. Then, just before the Civil War, they hid runaway slaves. I like to go in there and pretend I’m traveling with Harriet Tubman to Canada.
“Sounds like fun.”
‘They say George Washington actually stayed her, once.”
“He and every other hero of the Revolution, I bet.”
The dog takes off chasing a squirrel. Daniel calls a hasty good-bye and follows his beloved pet.
I slip off my shoes and wander toward the pond. The cool grass envelopes my feet. After spending all day in airports, it’s nice to ramble with nowhere to go. I toss a few crumbs of bread into the pond and am greeted by a mass of birds, mostly ducks and seagulls. I notice a tiny head popping up from out of the murky water. I bend down for a closer look and spot the outline of a turtle. His shell is about the size of my hand. I toss a piece of bread direct to him, but a gull grabs it first. I pull off a larger piece, scrunch it into a ball, and toss it at my target. Perfect aim. He snaps it up with his mouth and drags it under the water.
A mother duck crosses my path, followed by a string of six downy ducklings. I watch their progress for a pace then glance across at my weekend dwelling. A brick wall stretches up three stories. Three windows open to allow light into the rooms on each floor. I toured the bottom floor when I arrived. A beautiful library welcomes guests to sit around an open fireplace and converse in the evenings. Scrumptious breakfasts are cooked in the kitchen and served in the elegant dining room each morning. My mouth waters at the thought of the Eggs Benedict and Cranberry Scones Martha had promised for the following morning. The guests’ rooms are on the second floor. Martha and her husband, and I assume Daniel, live on the third floor. Ivy laced the walls completing the antique atmosphere of the grounds.
I toss the rest of the crust to the birds and slip my shoes back on my feet and stroll to the far end of the pond where a beautiful flower garden blooms. Gardenias, geraniums, daffodils and marigolds create an intricate pattern of color and texture along the south end of the property.
My stomach rumbles, reminding me an airplane lunch isn’t very filling. I direct my steps through the front gate toward a quaint little deli Martha recommended to me. I main street is paved with asphalt, but the side streets are covered in red cobblestones. Brick edifices line either side of the street. A short two-block walk ends in front of an old-style shop.
As I walk in the door, the fragrance of fresh-baked bread fills my nostrils. I close my eyes and breathe deep for several minutes. I finally make my way to the counter. I decide on the pastrami on rye and sit down at a table to wait for my dinner. The wooden tables are covered with knot scars, creating a rustic atmosphere. Muskets and old army uniforms decorate the walls. An antiquated cannon stands in one corner. I pick up the table tent and read the poem “Paul Reverie’s Ride”. Before I’m half through, a young lady brings my sandwich and a generous serving of fries.
“Have you ever read that poem, before?” she asks.
“My mother loves poetry and this is one of her favorites. When she recites it, I can hear the hoof beats of his horse. I can see the lanterns in the Old North Church.”
The waitress leaves me to enjoy the tasty meal. After dinner I stroll around downtown.
One shop is set up like a Revolution era blacksmith shop. From the street, I feel the heat from the fire pit. An older man in a black apron hammers on a red-hot decorative hook. A younger man works the billows. Another pours molten iron into a cast. Souvenirs line the walls. I select a horseshoe to take home to my girls, dropping my change into an Historical Society collection jug shaped like an old whisky bottle.
The sun paints a red and orange mural across the sky, a perfect backdrop for the buildings rising above my head. I breathe in the fresh air as I stroll down the lane back to my room.
Two guests are chatting in the library when I walked in the door. I draw up a chair and join them. We engage in polite small talk, “What do you do? Do you have a family? What brings you to Boston?” The old grandfather clock opposite the fireplace chimes ten. In spite of my intentions of staying up late, a day of travel and new surroundings catches up with me.
I bid my neighbors “good night” and climb the narrow steps to my room, wondering if George Washington and Harriet Tubman really did stay here. I work through my evening routine, manage to type a few descriptive paragraphs about my lovely day, and crawl into a downy bed, surrounded with dreams.