A cold weekend in July

Summers in New England are relatively hot, except when they’re not. Years ago my father, who had lived most of his life in south Florida, visited us in July. It was one of those cold, wet spells, and his arthritis really crippled him on this visit. He made jokes about worrying that he’d lost his ability to walk, but once he “thawed out” he was able to resume his normal activities.

Don & M 3-7-09

Visiting Dad in Florida, where he was much happier than when visiting his children in “chilly” New England

I was thinking about Dad this past weekend. While not freezing, by any means, it got down into the 50s at night, and stayed in the low 60s during the day. The sky was overcast and thinking about rain much of the weekend. Just my kind of weather.


On an overcast July afternoon, the Arnold Arboretum was nearly deserted

We visited a family member in the hospital in Boston Saturday, then stopped by the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain for a short walk, since it was so nearby. Unlike other times we have visited this city park, we had the place almost all to ourselves.


Nearly past blooming azaleas

We expected to see lots of summer flowers, but instead found azaleas nearly finished with their blooming, dogwoods nearly past,


The lilacs, which draw thousands to the arboretum each spring, are done with their flowering display

and the lilacs’ flowers were finished.


Purple-flowering raspberries

We did find some very busy bees on the purple-flowering raspberries, with fruit maturing all over the bushes.


We came looking for color, and instead found lots of green The leaf patterns were lovely.

Otherwise, there was lots, and lots, and lots of green. But because this is an arboretum filled with amazing varieties of trees and shrubs,


Tree have been growing in this arboretum since 72. Many old trees offer gnarled bark, a reminder of long years growing in the arboretum.

even the green was fascinating, the trunks of the old trees filled with character.


Gooseberry Island, Westport, MA

The next day we headed down to the ocean on another cool, overcast day. We drove past Horseneck Beach in Westport, usually a mob scene in the summer. This day the parking lot was nearly empty. We headed on to our favorite walking spot, Gooseberry Island, and easily found a parking spot.

I’ve walked very little this summer as I work to protect my toe, still healing from a nasty spider bite that resulted in cellulitis. We went someplace familiar, knowing there were quiet spots to sit alongside the water and watch birds.


Same spot, last year’s photo–many, many more flowers this year!

We had expected to find loads of summer flowers at the arboretum and were disappointed, but here, growing in the wild on Gooseberry Island we found scads of flowers (alas, no camera this day!). Bright orange daylilies, dark pink and light pink sweet peas, daisies, yarrow, and others I couldn’t identify filled the brush alongside the path that traverses the middle of the tiny island.

After sitting along the western shore with our books for maybe an hour the weather became so threatening, (colder!) so we packed up, thinking it was time to leave. We found the eastern side of the island to be a little more protected, warmer, and the rain held off. We strolled along the shore, and watched an osprey try to catch his dinner. His efforts were unsuccessful, a reminder of how challenging life can be in the wild.

As we headed inland, toward home, we drove through the rain we’d seen in the distance while walking along the shore. Perhaps not a great beach day for others, but for us, it was pretty perfect.

Marjorie Turner Hollman

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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