i went to chinatown where i was meeting james for lunch. i haven't seen james since back in january, where for one day in the middle of winter we had a nice spring day. i got there a bit early and wandered around the neighborhood searching for photo ops. bruce called to ask what i was doing later, and said we should visit fresh pond to see the cornflowers. when james showed up by the chinatown gate, we went to pho hoa, where the noontime lunch crowd was starting to filter in. i had the grilled chicken vermicelli, which was exactly what i had the last time i was there. most of our conversation centered around the celtics championship last night, reminiscing about game 6 and speculating who would come back next season. after we parted ways, i went to the china supermarket to get some groceries before catching the subway from south station back to cambridge.
as soon as i got back home i gave bruce a call. in a matter of minutes i was back out the door, going with bruce down to fresh pond. he'd told me about the cornflowers last week and i wanted to see it, but with my bad leg i had no easy way of making it down there. when we finally got to the area on the other side of the pond, it was just a field of flowers. photos doesn't do it justice. it wasn't just blue flowers; they came in all different colors.
what surprised us is cornflowers aren't actually native to new england, or to america for that matter. none of my wildflower field guides mentioned them and we were only able to get an id after consulting with my 2008 burpee seed catalog. so it's kind of mystery that the fresh pond caretakers would sow a field with so many non-native species - as beautiful as they may be.
apart from the cornflowers, there were plenty of genuine wildflowers, from the mundane - daisy fleabanes, trefoils, clovers - to the more exotic, like oxeye daisies and wild poppies. there were also a lot of birds, who were feasting on the abundance of seeds growing in the field (what looks to be some sort of barley). we spotted a female oriole and several noisy and busy goldfinches. there were also birdhouses, home for tree swallows.
afterwards we decided to check out the information center to see if they could explain all the cornflowers. it was there we met woman ranger who told us they were bachelor's buttons. turns out they're the same thing, but she had no idea why non-native flowers would be growing here in fresh pond. she seemed to be a bigger geology nerd and was absolutely thrilled to meet two guys who were as much interested in the local ecology as she was. she dug out maps for us of past geological surveys, and gave us a mini-tour of the history of fresh pond. apparently back in the days it was privately-owned and divided into subdivisions for the lucrative ice trade. trains came by to deliver the ice to the other neighboring towns. it used to be much busier recreational site, with sailboats and even a hotel. the hotel still exists, but was moved years ago to a new location on lake view avenue off of huron avenue. nowadays fresh pond belongs to the city and used as a reservoir. the ranger invited us back again for a lengthier private tour as we bid her good bye. on our way home, we paid a visit to the location of the fresh pond hotel. sure enough, a rather odd-looking condominium sat on lake view avenue, with a stucco face and slightly taller than neighboring houses. a blue cambridge historical placard was the only indication of its former glory. bruce drove me to my garden so i could water my plants before returning home.
when early evening rolled around (not yet dark because of summer hours), julie picked me up so we could go to microcenter, where she was buying a replacement mouse. afterwards we did some shopping at trader joe's. on our way back we dropped by her garden so she could pick a head of lettuce. the size of that thing was enormous, the biggest head of lettuce i've ever seen. right after work the somerville community garden was buzzing with activity as we met one of her neighboring gardeners as well as her friend laura (there on bicycle), who had a garden of her own at the other side of osgood garden. she gave julie and i a tour of her half. back at my place, julie heated up two trader joe pizzas for dinner, along with a caesar salad made up of fresh lettuce from her garden.