Monday, June 13, 2011

Memories of Boston and Loon Mountain by Shirley Ann Howard

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Memories Of Boston by Shirley Ann Howard

Pleasant weather beckons young people to the banks of the Charles River like a siren’s song. I’m personally most fond of the Cambridge side since I spent many college days strolling the paths there, while holding hands with my boyfriend who attended MIT. There might have been joggers, bicyclists, and dog-walkers too, but we focused mostly on us. As we envisioned a sublime future—so easily induced by fluid white sails, the cadence of rowers, and the clang of halyards—stress of the next Physics exam or James Joyce paper soon vanished like the vapor of billowy cotton clouds in the distance.

Of course springtime in Boston also meant final exams, so the next nice day sent us further up-river where a wide expanse of flat lawn tempted us to spread a blanket and open our books. The theory was good, but the practice, impractical. Two twenty-year-olds, clad in shorts and skimpy tops—lying close enough to touch, to steal a kiss in the sun—soon stopped their studying and commenced dreaming once more.

And planning… planning to cross the Longfellow Bridge to the Boston side. In those days Arthur Fiedler conducted the Boston Pops on summer evenings at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, and the concerts attracted only a small crowd of music lovers, music students—or in our case—student lovers. The only fireworks I remember were the ones we created.

Not long ago we strolled these banks with our grown son when he came to Boston for business at the Museum of Science. By some mystery of time the red brick of Back Bay blended beautifully with steel and glass high-rises as if they’d grown from one another. A flood of memories pierced me like Cupid’s arrow when I glanced across the river at MIT’s Great Dome. The winter wind cutting across the water allowed me to explain my misty eyes, and I was able to divert my family’s attention by suggesting we go for pizza at Simeone’s in Central Square. But alas, it had burned and was never rebuilt.

Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville are the haunts of Sandy and Lenny as they search for self and love in TALES OUT OF SCHOOL and TALES OUT OF COLLEGE. I consider the settings as important and meaningful as any of the characters and hope you do also.

Loon Mountain by Shirley Ann Howard

Loon Mountain captures visitors with its majesty throughout the year. In summer, the whoosh of the gondola whips you to the summit in five minutes where the scent of pine greets you before you even see the cones nestled in clusters in the trees. The crisp air at 3000 feet fills your lungs like a helium balloon. An easy 360° walk treats you to views of hazy Twin Peaks, snow-capped Mount Washington, and all the sky, treetops, and horizon your hungry soul can absorb.

The winter is even more exhilarating. After hopping off the same gondola, the cold bites your cheeks, but the sun—close enough to touch—quickly warms the excited blood surging through your veins. The snap of skis in bindings is the signal to turn your tips downward. You dig in your edges and slice through perfect powder or a patch of ice—it is, after all, New England. A flurry of color—parkas, hats of all kinds even animals, huge mittens, and cool graphics on skis and snowboards—bombard the senses in a moving collage toward the base lodge. Warm chowder or chili, coffee and hot toddies await.

Some years New England cooperates and floods this glorious region with autumnal color. A ride up the tram at nearby Cannon Mountain now attracts tourists from Europe, as well as locals and other Americans cruising in RVs. Gliding on a cable up the side of a rocky cliff, you marvel at Mount Lafayette as nature puts on a light show of maples, elms, and chestnut trees blazing bright crimson, copper, and maize. The play of sun and shadow within the rolling summits makes human concerns seem minor. Only the promise of twin Maine lobsters at The Chalet in North Woodstock can convince you to come back to earth. 

In TALES OUT OF SCHOOL, TALES OUT OF COLLEGE, and TALES FROM HOME Sandy and Lenny seek out the White Mountains for weekend escapes. Their adventures north serve as bonding experiences and seal their love.

Shirley Ann Howard
Tales Out Of School
Tales Out Of College
Tales From Home