Summertime on the East Coast is a bear. There are some people who like humidity. I bet these are the same people who don’t like chocolate. Obviously, I like dry heat. So when I found out I’d be going to New England during a July heatwave, I had a little feeling of dread. I was reminded of a Fourth of July night spent standing in a crowd on the FDR Drive in Manhattan. It was after 10 PM, still 98 degrees, and the air never moved. I thought I would melt on the spot. Don’t even get me started on the oppressive heat at the seaside of Marblehead, Massachusetts, at the end of July. If you have ever been in this kind of heat, you know why I was nervous.
Little did I know that my summer time in Indonesia and India had well prepared me for this visit. I mean, 97 in New York is not so bad compared to 97 in the tropics, really. And I didn’t need mosquito repellant. The New York weather wasn’t quite as bad as it’s been in the past, either. I felt conspicuously underdressed in a pair of shorts and a top wandering through mid-town Manhattan on a work day, but hey, it was better than sweltering. And no one harassed me on the subway. The PATH train into town from the airport was another story. I had pants and a jacket on then but it didn’t make any difference. En route to my hotel I met a very Puerto Rican, very gay accountant who hugged me and insisted that I come home with him to meet his family. This was after about five minutes of acquaintance. I am hoping he was drunk, but he didn’t smell bad (and I had occasion to notice). Note to self: do not smile while riding the PATH train in New Jersey. Get the “don’t mess with me” face on as soon as you leave the airplane or die trying. This might take some getting used to. Even though I was only in New York for a day, you can see I had a chance to experience its cultural richness… Of course, you could also say that about the lovely dinner I had at Aquavit restaurant and there would be no trace of sarcasm. They were gracious enough to overlook my outfit given the heat outside.
The next day, I was off on a bit of a road trip across New England and up to Maine. I went south first to visit my friend Susan for a little while and see her new home, and the lovely town of New Hope, Pennsylvania. It’s technically visiting another state, but it’s literally across the river from New Jersey so I am not sure if that really counts as going to Pennsylvania. I went through Connecticut and saw the city of Hartford from the car window, then onto the pretty, grassy countryside of the state. It really is lovely. I guess all that humidity is good for something after all – greenery. There was rain on half the drive that day, but the green trees and rolling hills were all the prettier for it. I went on this journey to visit a friend and I didn’t take as many photographs as I should have until I got a bit further along, I am afraid, so I hope you’ll take my word for the beauty of rural Connecticut.
I got into Boston late in the evening, but it was still early enough for a good dinner. The first restaurant was much vaunted by critics, but the menu was very strange. There were lots of fully vegetarian dishes of antique foods, such as farro and strange greens, and then there were charcuterie-style foods such as head cheese. This was a bit too weird for my dinner partner, and bordering on too weird even for me, so it was time to go somewhere else. Note to self: read the menu next time before making reservations. Fortunately, there was a very good Turkish and Lebanese style restaurant not too far away and they had room. The food there was delicious and it just kept coming until I couldn’t even think about eating any more. I was late getting back to the hotel, but it was a lovely summer evening and lots of people were out walking, hanging out with friends, on dates, just being out and about. I hate to admit it, but this is another something good about humidity; warm summer evenings. May they always linger in my memory…