ponkapoag pond

jack, my godmother's son, called me thursday night asking if i knew any fun places nearby. he was taking a friend, and she wanted to see something interesting. "what does your friend want to see?" i asked. "nature, she likes to go hiking." i gave it some thought and suggested halibut point in rockport, for some tidal pool action. then it hit me: ponkapoag bog! jack asked if i wanted to go as well, and since i haven't been back there in a while, and always happy to give a tour of one of my favorite naturing places, i agreed, and we scheduled for this morning.

after i finished a bagel for breakfast, jack's car was waiting for me outside. i met his friend alisa, who vacated her seat so i could sit up front. i found out she's a music student at BU and had already been in boston since the summer. she showed me her taiwanese travel guide to massachusetts, featuring picturesque photos of scenic new england. it took forever to get out of harvard square, as the place was mobbed with people going to the yale vs. harvard football game.

i don't remember ever coming to ponkapoag on a weekend. one reason is because the boardwalk leadng into the bog is so narrow at times, it becomes a challenge navigating any sort of traffic. so naturally i was a little worried to see so many cars parked outside (normally when i go on a weekday i'm the only one there). making our way to the bog, we saw people jogging, hiking, and walking their dogs. at the entrance to the bog a pair of hikers were just leaving. starting from the first wooden plank (which partially submerged as i stepped on it) i turned around and informed my companions that it was about to get wet. a few yards into the bog we met another pair of hikers coming out. they told us it was pretty wet and they didn't even make it all the way to the end. i had my hiking shoes on but you needed rubber boots to stay dry. since i've been wet on many bog trips already, i abandoned all hopes of keeping my feet dry and let my shoes get wet early on (i didn't roll up my pants though). alisa, who wore something akin to lady slippers, didn't want to get her shoes wet so she went bareboot anytime we crossed a sinking plank. jack on the other hand did what i did, and decided it was pointless to stay dry, and sloshed in the water like me.

so our nature walk became an obstacle course as we made our way down the boardwalk, careful not to lose our balance and fall off the floating wooden planks. along the way i'd point out interesting things to see, but this time of the year there's hardly anything really noteworthy. nevertheless, pitcher plants can be found year round, and i showed them the few i knew about and some new ones that'd sprouted out since my absence. at one point two hikers were behind us, navigating the boardwalk as well, but after a while we didn't see them anymore because they turned back. all these people we saw must've been new to ponkapoag, otherwise they'd know how far it was to the end and wouldn't be hesitant about continuing forward. or maybe they're just not as crazy about bogs as i am. finally, after passing through two clearings, we made it to the end of the boardwalk. after a brief moment acknowledging our accomplish with the obligatory photos, we retraced our steps and headed back out the same way we came in.

alisa, with energy to spare, asked if there was any other place nearby we could visit. seeing how we saw the bunker hill monument on our way down here, jack suggested that as a possible destination. so we drove to charlestown via the north end. i pointed out the iron boot scrapers commonly found on the steps of old new england brickstone homes. when we finally made it to the monument, we discovered it was closed for renovations until next april, a chain-linked fence surrounding the property. we decided to walk a bit of the freedom trail (in the opposite direction of the few tourists we saw) before making it back to the car. i showed them how some houses have "half" numbers.

the whole day alisa had been in communique with her roommate via cell phone. she was supposed to come out naturing with us but overslept. nevertheless, we managed to rendezvous with her in fenway, where we saw her wandering the parking lot outside bed, bath & beyond with a boy helping her carry her bags. she wandered off briefly to drop off her stuff while we waited in the car. later i found out alisa's roommate (whose name i forgot, but something exotic, like genevieve) is also a music student, though at longy. together we went to have a late lunch at a nearby fast food thai joint. i had the spicy crispy thai chicken with rice. it didn't quite agree with me (too oily? too hot?) and i felt a little queasy afterwards. picking up the latest issue of weekly dig, the girls saw a place in downtown crossing selling some cute purses and asked if we could go. outside, the sky was an explosion of clouds of various shapes and sizes.

the purse place turned out to be the lobby of some commercial building on arch street. inside were various tables set up by local artists selling their handicrafts, anything from fridge magnets, to one-of-kind t-shirts, to designer purses, to wooden furniture: essentially it was a highbrow micro version of the bizarre bazaar. later, since the ladies had never been to filene's basement before, we decided to go have a look. while they looked at shoes, jack and i were admiring the oriental rugs on sale, some of which were more than $10,000. later we also checked out some fur coats. one them had fox trimmings, squirrel lining, and python exterior; the cost? $10,000 as well.

back at home, i started making my carbon dioxide generator: 2 cups of boiling water goes into a soda bottle mixed with 2 cupes of sugar. after i let that cool down, i mixed a quarter teaspoon of yeast (i had to run next door to get some fresh yeast; the one that i had seemed old and didn't bubble when i tested it) with a quarter cup of warm water, sprinkled with some sugar to activate the yeast. after i saw that bubbling, i poured it into the soda bottle and attached the whole thing to my aquarium. when i came back later i saw that the soda bottle had sucked some water out of the rubber tubing, the opposite of what i wanted it to do. hopefully once enough carbon dioxide gets produced, it'll reverse the flow.

tonight was the night of the leonid meteor shower. unfortunately it was cloudy so better luck next year!