When you live in a loft apartment (that used to be a old mill), you don’t have a lawn to mow, a porch to sit on, a garden to tend to or a driveway to shovel in the dead of winter. It is a mixed bag in terms of responsibilities and pleasures. It was an adjustment that my FHB and I had to come to terms with as we went from several acres in a sleepy town, to the grittier part of a city with a lot of attitude and character and a bit more vitality.
Once you have made that leap, you go through a period of time missing what you had enjoyed, and then come to the realization, that your backyard is as large as you want it to be. On weekend days we get in our car, and head to greener pastures, literally. Travelling less than about ten miles in any direction allows us to see nature, the ocean (actually Buzzards Bay) and ponds, woods and meadows, filled with cows and other farm critters, few people and a serenity, far from the streets where we live. We live in a harbor town, New Bedford, which is a fishing seaport, with the largest dollar catch in the country. The Port of New Bedford, Massachusetts is America’s #1 Fishing Port. It is less than a mile from our apartment. We can’t see it, but often we can smell it and despite its sometime less than fragrant aroma, it is the lifeblood of the city. The city is steeped in so much history, including a stop on the Underground Railroad, and the city that became the story of Moby Dick and the whaling industry. It is a contrast of former whaling captains’ mansions, some renovated to the way they looked in the 1850s and others in disrepair, badly in need of attention. It is a city with many former manufacturing mills, some of which have been revitalized as loft apartments and artists’ studios and others that are empty and silent, holding the history in their brick facades. The people are as diverse as the surroundings with the mix of many cultures and languages and people whose families were part of the beginnings of our country and those who are new to the city from places far away looking for new opportunities and safe harbors. We have a national park in the middle of the city that just celebrated its 20th birthday. We have a harbor filled with scallopers, lobster boats, trawlers and clammers. They dot the harbor as the boats head out to bring home the catch that sustains the city and the fishermens’ families. The ocean challenges the fishermen with hard work and risks and one learns to respect the ocean as its master.
The farms surrounding the city are being resurrected to help sustain the communities with local products. The farm stands of summer and their harvest, now come indoors to winter markets to provide fresh vegetables and meats and delicious honey and jams. The synergy of green and grit create a balance of which we can avail ourselves. This area has become home for me over the last forty years. I have seen the growth of my children as well as the growth and mix of the communities both city and rural. Not an easy life, nor an easy assimilation and yet, my own commitment to help us keep going, in a climate undergoing changes and challenges that are really, really hard, mirror the people of this area. Tough times, tough folks with hearts that may be rough in spots, but, under the grit are the souls of those that came before us, who made it work and continue to work, day in and day out.
Have a calm week. Be kind.