Sunday, October 27, 2013


We went out to the town of Lincoln today. Usually when we’re in Lincoln, we’re on our bike. Today I had a rental car, which is a little bit unusual. But since it was our second rental in as many weeks, the guy at the rental counter got all excited and upgraded us to a Ford Fusion with fancy electronic accessories including multiple LCD display panels. I got all excited too, and synchronized my phone to the audio system, played with the backup camera (which marks a curving trajectory when I turn the wheels) and experimented with all the options on the main display panel.

I also drove the car. We intended to go out to our neighbor’s farm in Western Massachusetts, but Alla wasn’t feeling completely well so we stayed closer to home. We did accomplish our secondary goal for the day, a visit to the Codman Estate to do a little reconnaissance for Nika’s wedding. My readers in Belarus may find this a little peculiar. In Belarus, when you decide you want to get married you go out, make the arrangements and get married. Boom. You can be done in a month if you feel like it. Here it takes a month just to figure out where to get married. Then, because planning everything else takes several more months, all venues are booked way in advance. Most people start planning a year ahead for a wedding.

Nika already attended a wedding at the Codman Estate so she knew what it would look like and feel like, but she wanted us to find out about stuff like catering, drinking, tours and tents. We found out.

We also bought apples as a consolation prize for our failure to go out to Williamsburg and pick apples. I think we saved a lot of effort by buying them, but I suppose we came home with fewer than we might have if we picked our own. Then I tried to figure out where else to drive my whizzy rental car. It was a beautiful day to be out, but we had nowhere to go besides a couple of stores difficult to reach by public transit. Alla didn’t want to stand up too long at a time, but she did rally when we got to the Russian grocery store. I bought ryazhenka.* With the apples and the ryazhenka, I think I’m in pretty good shape.

* For those unfamiliar with ryazhenka, I found you an English language description from a Belarusian dairy.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Town Day

When we moved to New England we discovered a tradition called Town Day. Many small towns set aside one day in the fall fall to throw themselves a party. These parties always involve food and they often include a parade. It creates an opportunity for residents to bump into each other after they’ve had their summer vacations and returned home. After moving from a suburban town into Boston I forgot all about it, though we have our own neighborhood traditions for getting residents together for some sort of party or event.

I stumbled upon several town days this year by accident. Somehow I kept encountering them on bike rides, and always managed to ride around them without experiencing much more than the smell of grilled sausages. Last Saturday, however, we rode into an event we couldn’t avoid.

We didn’t really know where we were going to ride that day. I found some old notes I’d saved about a bike ride to a farm stand somewhere. Since the notes referred to the names of streets but not the names of towns, I had only a general idea where we’d ride. Alla had never been on this ride, so we both experienced a sense of discovery as we followed my notes. At one point we rolled into Weston with intent to turn left on the main street, go through town, and turn right. The main street, however, was lined with spectators and filled with the beginnings of a parade. We talked to a local about the possibility of avoiding the parade by turning right and going around town in another direction, but by the time we’d figured this out, the parade had cut off our alternative.

We figured, then, that our best course would be to walk behind the spectators toward the origin of the parade and dart across when we finally got to the place where we wanted to turn right. A huge marching band passed by, then a smaller marching band, and then various floats representing local businesses and clubs. A bunch of people dressed like carrots accompanied the float from the Community Gardens, and then along came a small-time entrepreneur with an old Coca Cola truck. Inside the truck, instead of beverages, he had a player-organ with pipes, drums and a mechanical band leader. Somehow he’d gotten into the wrong place in the parade and he stopped in front of us, so I walked around and took pictures from all sides. The organ played loudly, like a calliope. The Weston High School Marching Band came up from behind, also playing loudly. The band passed the organ. Neither stopped playing. The organ, being mechanical, had no problem. I’m not sure how the musicians did, because I couldn’t really hear them. But when they finally got ahead of the organ once again, they appeared to be playing together.

J. Melone and Sons came by with their newest and oldest surviving trucks. The oldest truck, a dump truck, cost $10,000 in 1954. The newest truck, a cement truck, cost $200,000 and has never been used. I chatted with the drivers and learned that the guy driving the dump truck was one of the sons mentioned in the name of the business. A grandson drove the new cement truck.

We enjoyed our parade and the jovial atmosphere of Weston’s 300th anniversary Town Day. By the time we got to the farm stand, we were hungry and grateful that they made good sandwiches. I liked the buttercream cupcake they made too. We ended up a little farther from home than we intended, and farther than Alla was ready for, but we did ride home successfully. Alla definitely did not, however, want to get onto the bike the next day. We’d had enough fun for one weekend anyway.