far too much writing, far too many photos

Yesterday: I made the drive south to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I’m staying in the home of friends who are in Provincetown for a couple of weeks. (Yes, they know I’m here. I even have keys, so that I didn’t have to crawl in through the laundry room window. A good thing, as that room has no window.) Also staying here: another friend, him occupying the more responsible position of housesitter. So here we are, two males squatting in the lovely home of two absent females (no, we’re not snooping through their belongings or going through their underwear), having a kind of small-scale, grown-up pajama party. Except I don’t wear pajamas. And we’re not jumping up and down on the beds or gossiping about anyone or staying up to all hours carrying on in coltish, carefree ways. After I arrived, we went down Mass. Ave. Boca Grande, where we pigged out on piles of decent, cheap Mexican chow and blabbed about life for an hour or two.

But I get ahead of myself. (Cen one actually do that without rupturing the laws of physics?)

Rain came down in northern Vermont yesterday, a gentle, steady watering of thirsty land that intensified as I headed south. By the time I-89 crossed into New Hampshire, the weather had gotten more serious. By the time I reached Manchester, it had morphed into something wild, the sky opening up, sheets of rain whipping down as I approached Boston, wiping out visibility, forcing traffic on the Interstate to slow down. When I exited the highway, it finally began to let up.

Getting to Cambridge from I-89 takes me along several miles of surface roads, first through Medford (local pronunciation: MEH-fuh), then Somerville (local pronunciation: SUM-uh-vul) and finally Cambridge’s northern edge where I turn on to Massachusetts Avenue (local name: Mass. Ave.) and head south toward Porter Square.

It’s a strange area, that part of North Cambridge. Once extremely working class, now in transition, the buildings along Mass. Ave. mostly old and tired-looking, the stores and restaurants mostly less than attractive. Billboards, concrete, not many trees. Power lines for the trolleys that run to and from Harvard Square run above the road, ending at a large town lot where the trolleys get parked and repaired. Kind of a bleak-looking area, to my eyes. Few of the buildings stand more than one or two stories tall until a mile or so along where a large Catholic church thrusts itself up. A big structure, with bells (or an amplified recording of bells) that rings on the hour and half-hour — dark tan, kind of blockish yet with an element of something Moorish in its design. All of which gives it the look of a huge mausoleum.

Beyond the Church is a small row of stores. Immediately beyond them lies Haskell Street, location of my final Cambridge address. Across from that is the Pemberton Garden Center, a long splash of green during the warm season, and Kate’s Mystery Books, a Cambridge landmark — an old Victorian house turned into a book shop that deals only in mysteries, new and used. Some of the windows are painted over with silhouettes of figures in attitudes suitable to mysteries, the front yard is planted profusely with flowers and greenery, just shaggy and wild enough to suggest gentility gone to slightly troubling seed. The bookstore itself occupies most of the first floor and consists almost entirely of floor to ceiling books in lovely old dark-wood shelves. The first time I wandered in, I found it disorienting, unable to put my finger on why until I realized there was no visible office or access to an office. Just books and a small desk where someone sat and did the money thing. Then a section of shelves to the rear of the store swung open and I spotted the office back there. Through a secret passageway — how cool is that?

But I blabber.

[continued in next entry]

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