So, it was another weekend for being out and about- Saturday, I spent the morning (the part I didn't sleep through) getting some yard work done. Last fall, I didn't make it through all the raking before it started snowing. (Accursed short days, that time of year. And I hate raking in the dark.) So I started by picking up all dead wood thoughtfully shed by the trees and put it on the kindling pile. The spring flowers have been struggling to get their little fronds above the thick coating of oak leaves blanketing the flowerbeds, so I released them from bondage, and raked up a bunch of other debris for good measure. I was greatly assisted by strong winds that whipped half of each pile of leaves down the street and saved me having to cart it back to the compost pile. (I'm just hoping my neighbors to windward aren't too upset.)
My husband was assigned to bittersweet eradication duty (the bittersweet vines climb our fences, attempt to strangle the trees and grow at a rate that would make them contenders in the Boston Marathon, if plants were allowed to enter). Good progress was made. Though my husband's attitude to the whole yard work thing is that it's some curious activity I've dreamed up just to baffle him. His opinion is pretty well summed up by the quote, "Let me get this straight, we're out here killing everything that grows naturally, so we can plant things that don't?" (For the record, this is a gross exaggeration...pretty much all of the things I plant are chosen for their ability to thrive on neglect. And I only try to contain the growth of things that will swallow the house if I don't.)
We spent the afternoon walking around Boston, as a reward for our virtuous labor of the morning, and visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It's best known for having been the site of one of the most lucrative art thefts in history, and the art is indeed fabulous- but the house itself is worth the price of admission. Constructed by an eccentric* Bostonian lady in the late 19th century and opened as a museum in 1903, it has the exterior of an ordinary Bostonian building, but the interior of an Italian palazzo. Because the Bostonian climate is so noticebly not like the climate of Italy, the central courtyard is enclosed, creating a conservatory where a garden can bloom year round. And of course, there is an immense collection of art. Not a large museum, but well worth a visit, particularly if you like the Italian Renaissance, tapestries, furniture and art.
*Because rich people are eccentric, not crazily obssessed.
Speaking of crazily obsessed, Sunday was our designated 'walk at least ten miles to toughen our feet' day, so I dragged my protesting middle-aged out-of-shape carcass partway up the side of a mountain. Considering that we've been walking fairly aggressively the last few weeks, it was rather dispiriting to find that six miles and a mere 1200 feet or so of vertical was enough to totally kick my behind. It's just as well that plan A was a dud. I had wanted to hike up Mt. Chocorua, a lovely peak in east central NH, which I've been up a couple of times before, though not recently-- which is to say, I was a lot younger when I last climbed it. However, when we checked in at the ranger station, they told us that the last person up the mountain (last week) had reported there was still two feet of snow at the summit. Uh. We had been prepared for it to be cold, but not for two feet of snow. Now, snow in the New Hampshire mountains this time of year isn't exactly a shocker--I recall one memorable hike in May that involved floundering through hip deep snow for several hours and led to me getting a decent pair of snowshoes for subsequent spring hikes. But given the unseasonably warm weather we've had this spring, I had been optimistic that the trail would be passable. Not so much.
Still, we opted to hike the lower part of the trail, up to Champney Falls, which are very pretty this time of year (with the spring meltwaters flowing down them). It was there I discovered that while my walking-on-flat-level-ground muscles may be coming along nicely, my hiking-up-big-hills muscles are sorely out of shape. Literally. We blew off the ten mile goal, and sensibly turned back at the point where the trail got icy. Since we hadn't hiked very far, we took another short hike around the Boulder Loop, which the hiking guide described as having rewarding views 'for relatively moderate effort'. Of course, that would be moderate effort for someone who hikes regularly up and down 4000-foot mountains and disdains a mere 1000 feet of vertical. (The views were just as lovely as advertised, though!)
So. Yard work. Boston. Museum. Hiking in the mountains. Almost no knitting. And I failed to take a single picture, thanks to managing to forget the camera completely every time I left the house. Kind of a humbling weekend all around.