Spring at Smith College Botanic Garden

There’s one botanic garden that I’ve been meaning to visit for sometime. Smith College Botanic Garden is part of Smith College, a liberal arts college for women located in Northampton in Western Massachusetts. Now that spring is here, visiting this garden seems to be the perfect way to enjoy the season. The botanic garden is situated inside Smith College campus. This college was founded in 1871 through the endowment from Sophia Smith who wanted to use her inheritance to give better education for women and that of equal to what men receive. Smith College Botanic Garden was established in 1895 to provide teaching, public education, scientific research and also the beauty of the place. There are glass houses in the garden built in 1895 and they’re fascinating and I will talk about them in another post specifically. These glass houses is what attracted me to visit the garden.

On my way toward the garden, to my delight, I saw several saucer magnolia trees in bloom. The sound of trickling fountain from a nearby pond with a beautiful female bronze statue was heard mixing with the sound of the birds. On the side of the pathway toward the glass houses lay a beautiful rock garden. This first rock garden in North America was established in 1897 copying the rock garden at the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew in London. I stayed there for the longest time admiring the lay out of the garden that resembles the environments of high altitude area and the tundra. Some of the plants have small and succulent leaves to conserve water, rather large flowers to attract pollinators, or roots that go deeper into the underground stream. Some have short life cycle adapting to the drought season. It is a remarkable beauty to see some of the plants nestled between the rocks. It’s sort of beauty and the beast inspired.

Being in any garden, for that matter in Smith College Botanic Garden was a wonderful experience for me. Not only because I needed to take a break from the busy sometime mundane days, but also to learn about the garden. I always love learning about botany, you see. After admiring the Rock Garden, I went to the glass houses and astonished by the collections of plants being cared there. A lot of them are tropical plants and they thrive beautifully. I know some of the tropical plants having seen and planted them in my mother’s yard. She would’ve loved to come to the glass houses and probably would be amused seeing her plants are growing in a four-season country. When one of the gardener informed me that the garden would be closed at 4PM, I then headed to the garden office. I met a nice lady there who told me about another garden on the other side of campus and I’d love to visit it in June when the roses are in bloom because they have rose arches there. I ended my visit with sitting on a bench near the perennial border just relaxing even though the wind became pretty strong and chilly, waiting until the time for me to go to meet my daughter to see her orchestra concert in nextdoor city. 

The saucer magnolia trees in bloom.
The glass houses at Smith College Botanic Garden.
Smith College Botanic Garden was set up in 1895.
The statue with writing: In Memory of A Beautiful Life, was dedicated in 1911 to remember Mary Tomelson Lanning. It is the work of Jean Gautherin.
The Lyman Conservatory at Smith College Botanic Garden.
Spiraea Thunbergii – Spirea flowers.
Smith College Botanic Garden arboretum has magnificent tree collection.
Fritillaria Meleagris – Checkered Lily flower.
The Rock Garden at Smith College Botanical Garden is copying the one at the Royal Botanic Garden in London.
The Rock Garden was created in 1897 and is one of the oldest in United States.
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The Rock Garden at Smith College Botanic Garden.
Penstemon Hirsutus – the beard-tongue flowers.
Smith College Botanic Garden consists of the Rock Garden and Lyman Conservatory.
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Travel Journal: Historic Old Salem, North Carolina

Old and historic places are my favorite kind of places to visit. It is one among many interesting places that I’d love to see up close. During our short visit in North Carolina in February , we stopped by a wonderful historic place called OLD SALEM. The historic town of Salem was established in 1766 by Moravians – one among the oldest Protestant denominations – who originated from the Czech Republic. Old Salem boasted a remarkable architecture and attention to details that are still exist today. Three-quarters of the buildings in the old town are the original constructions. Salem used to be the center of the administrative, professional, craft, trader and spiritual activities which in present day is immaculate and simply wonderful. Rows of old houses and shops line up the main street. Several houses are available to rent. Can you imagine living in an old and historic house like the one on the 1st photo? That house is called the Fourth House which is the oldest home that still stands in Salem. The German style house was built in 1768 using timber and bricks and has 3 rooms which is known as the “Flurk├╝chenhaus” plan. The first tenants who lived in the Fourth House were a saddle maker and his wife who rented it from the church.

The other point of interest in Old Salem that we visited was the Winkler Bakery. It wasn’t hard to entice anyone to come to the shop where the aroma of fresh baked goods wafting in the air. Visitors were greeted by the pieces of sugar cake that were waiting on a table at the dining area. A lady who wore an 1800’s-styled clothing, served the cake while a man who also wore similar clothing style prepared another batch from the wood-fired oven that’s part of the bakery. The aroma was so heavenly! My kids and I couldn’t stop getting one more piece of the cake and there was no rule of how many you were allowed to get. So it’s all fair. There were several choices of breads and other baked goods sold at the bakery including the sugar cake. Although the flavor of the bread they sold wasn’t as good as the one they baked in the 200-year-old wooden-fired oven. The charred part of the top part of the bread was a distinct flavor and gave the uniqueness. It’s true, the modern oven can’t beat that of an antique one. 

We opted to merely walked about this old town and not going on specific tour visiting each of the main historical interest. The town is a live museum where to get into several buildings you need a ticket for it. But we didn’t buy any ticket due to the time constraint and the vast area of the town that we thought it would need an all day to spend. Visitors are free to roam around the peaceful neighborhood, though would be unable to go inside the ticketed buildings. My kids and I also went to the souvenir shops there that were among the small shops that lined up the main street. The weather wasn’t the prettiest and it’s still winter. It was pretty bleak that day. We thought of coming back here again maybe during summer or fall to be able to enjoy the garden and the outdoor activities set up there for the visitors. It must be lovely when the flowers are blooming and the gardens are thriving. There are lots of places that I would love to see in Old Salem. I hope one day I get to visit this fascinating place again for longer time.

D. Justisia

THE FOURTH HOUSE – built in 1768, the oldest building in Salem.
EDWARD BELO HOUSE – built in 1849, owned by a cabinetmaker, Edward Belo, in Greek Revival style. The building was Belo’s house, shop and place to do other businesses.
HISTORIC OLD SALEM – Main street
Statues of a lion and two dogs in front of Edward Belo’s house.
Enjoying some sugar cake at the C. WINKLER BAKERY, that was built in 1800 and altered in 1818.
The lady who served some sugar cakes to the visitors.
The dining area at C. Winkler Bakery.
Sugar cake from C. Winkler Bakery is made by following the original more than 200-year-old recipe. The burnt part on the cake was the best part as a result of having baked in a wood-fired oven.
The Doctor’s House – 1802, includes the doctor’s home, clinic and apothecary shop.
Miksch Garden and House – 1771
The Boys School
Market-Fire Engine House – 1803 on Salem Square.
Coffee Pot, made in 1858, becomes the icon of Historic Old Salem. It was made to promote the Mickey Brothers’ tinsmithing business.

Snaps from A Road Trip: Northampton

    I get to know Northampton, a small city in western Massachusetts, as my daughter started her college last year. She goes to University of Massachusetts (UMass) in Amherst, a neighboring city of Northampton and we always pass by Northampton before reaching Amherst by car or train. My first encounter of Noho, the city’s nickname, was an eye-opening. The city is so charming with rows of 19th century buildings along its main streets. The downtown area especially, oozes that charm. For someone who has never come here, let alone heard about Northampton, I was in awe and felt dumbfounded. Every time we come to Amherst either dropping-off or picking-up our daughter from her dorm , or me having a solo trip to attend UMass Symphony Orchestra concerts (our daughter plays violin with them), I’d make sure I’ll visit Northampton and strolling down its beautiful downtown area. My love for old buildings, history and architecture find its way in this city. Thomas Cole, my favorite landscape painter who established the Hudson River School, painted the Oxbow in 1836 depicting a romantic panorama of Connecticut River Valley after the thunderstorm as viewed from Mount Holyoke in Northampton. It showed how he loved Northampton and its environment. 

    The city was called “Norwottuck” or “Nonotuck” by the native inhabitants of the area which was the Pocumtuc. The name means “the midst of the river” and Northampton is situated by Connecticut River. Its splendid surrounding has attracted many, including the “Swedish Nightingale” – Jenny Lind, a famous opera singer, who thought Northampton as “Paradise of America”. That’s how this city’s other nickname is the Paradise City. Noho is known as the city with cultural, arts, educational and historical background where Christian revival, slave abolitionist, artists and people with eclectic lifestyle thrive. Clarke School for Hearings and Speech was established here in 1867 which was United State’s first oral school for the deaf. Alexander Graham Bell was one of their school leaders. Other educational establishment founded in Northampton is Smith College, a private liberal art college for women, founded in 1871. Their famous alumni are Julia Child, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan – both were US first ladies, and also American poet and writer, Sylvia Plath.  

Snaps from A Road Trip: Eastham

Having a road trip means stopping occasionally when something interesting is seen. That also means turning around when the thing we saw was being passed quickly. During our trip to Cape Cod in Massachusetts, we passed by a windmill on U.S. Route 6 and I just had to see it closely. So we turned around and I wandered for a while. As I suspected, the windmill is a very old. In fact, it’s actually the oldest windmill on Cape Cod. It was built by Thomas Paine in 1680 in Plymouth. Plymouth was the first European Colony in America. The windmill then moved to Truro in 1770 by ferrying it on a log raft across Massachusetts Bay. It must have been quiet a task! The windmill then moved again on an ox cart to Eastham in 1793 and 1808 was set up on its recent location on the Village Green. The windmill worked to grind the grains into flour. The surrounding scene around the Green was typical of a New England small town, picturesque and calm. It was fortunate that the weather was amazing when we passed Eastham and I got to take several of the most wonderful images of the windmill. I wished we could stop by longer and had some picnic on the Green. It must’ve been wonderful!

 

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Snaps from A Road Trip: Sandwich & Plymouth

The towns of Sandwich and Plymouth in Massachusetts are among the oldest towns in United States. They situated in the area in Massachusetts which is a cape in the southeastern part of the state called Cape Cod. Cape Cod is famous for its beaches and quaint New England style towns. Town of Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod being settled in 1637. While Plymouth was the first permanent settlement of the European who came to the New World (America) and became the Plymouth Colony. I visited these two towns in summer and although I didn’t explore much, I managed to visit several places and snapped some wonderful and interesting scenes on my cellphone. The SNAPS FROM A ROAD TRIP is the newest theme I want to develop on this blog that consists the pictures I took with my cellphone camera. Please, enjoy!

 

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Women’s March NYC, A Day to Remember

Saturday, January 21st, was a special day for my oldest daughter. On that day, she had an audition in New York City with a music college that she applied for. We, my self and her sister, accompanied her to NYC. We took a train from our town and departed about 8:30AM. When we got on the train, a lot of seats were already occupied. That Saturday also marked a very important day for a lot of people, most of all the women, who live in United States, because that’s the day the Women’s March(es) were held all over the country. Many women, young and old, from many different background and race got on our train to go to New York City to participate with the Women’s March NYC. Some women who boarded the train later a long the way to New York brought along signs and posters. Between them were also some men who were as enthusiast as the women. Our train car felt very energized by the present of these people who chatted and became acquaintances for they shared the same thoughts and opinions relating to the new president. The atmosphere was really invigorating.

We reached our destination, Grand Central Terminal, around 10:30AM. After we went to the restroom on the lowest floor at the station, we went up to the main floor which is where the main lobby is and were surprised to see so many people who would participate in the Women’s March NYC flocking there. Some were children, mostly girls, who were beaming proudly putting on a show of their posters and signs for anyone who wanted to read them. It was fascinating! Of all the times I’ve been to Grand Central, that was the first time that that I felt the place was full of energy. My daughters and I passed by several people who were getting ready for the march. A woman with pink hair sat near one of the pillars while holding on to a poster, while on the other side two young women busy preparing their posters, writing some words with capital letters. Some women wore pink knitted hats that shaped like kitty’s ears. The hats became the symbol of the Women’s March movement. We then continued our journey to the building on West 54th Street where my eldest would have her audition. While we were walking from Grand Central towards the audition studio, we passed by several streets that were being cordoned for the march. New York City was getting ready for one heck of a celebration.

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After the audition ended around 1:30PM, as I promised my daughters, we walked towards the lower 50’s street to see the march. But then a chance arose when we saw the street in front of us wasn’t closed and so we blended in with the crowd that already started the march. It seemed my daughters and I started around West 52nd Street and walked towards West 54th Street. People in the march were in a very jaunty mood. They yelled and shouted but not in an angry manner, even though they spoke of disappointment, fear and sadness about the country’s predicament. People were very engaged to one another, saying ‘hi’ and getting acquainted. It was beautiful to be in the crowd.

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When we reached the last post (around West 54th Street), the march organizers asked us to disperse and go on our way to the street they showed us to go. So along with some people who stopped marching, we walked to the end of the street and had to walk further because a lot of streets were closed. By the time we got into the 49th Street, we met more people who were still marching. To get to the other side, we had to blend in again with the crowd and made way to cross the street. It was more like a celebration happening rather than a demonstration. It’s a democracy celebration for sure! On and on even after several hours have passed, even after my my daughters and I had a late lunch, when we walked to Grand Central to go home, we still met more people who were still marching. It was 5PM when we stopped by the New York Public Library and saw people gathering on the sidewalk next the building, looking at the signs and posters that some people brought for the march that were laid down just like an art exhibition. We walked through another crowd of people and amazed by the amount of people who participated in the Women’s March NYC. It was surreal! We certainly had a wonderful time in New York that day and had an experience and memories that we can share and cherish for a long time.

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The Poetry of Women’s March NYC

The year of 2017 begins with a ‘bang’! The anticipation from the US election in November 2016 became reality on January 20th 2017. A new president was inaugurated. But wait… Listen to the voices of women who moved together to resist, revolt, fight and speak up for social injustice! My daughters and I happened to be in New York City on Saturday, January 21st, when the women all over the country marched together with one purpose to be heard by the new government. We managed to be in the procession many times, because of the length of the march. Hundreds of thousand came and we witnessed a history. In this blog journal I only post the pictures I thought worth to show. The pictures of words upon words and illustrations of protests, disappointment, anger, anguish and fear that were written or drawn on pieces of papers decorating the streets of Manhattan. They were the poetry of a country in distress. Another journal will follow about our experience participating in the Women’s March NYC.

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