Today's Photo(s)

Toshio Shibata, Okawa Village, Kochi, 2007
This weekend has been spectacular. I'm just sitting down to dinner after a weekend of idyllic perfection with my high school biology teacher Mr. Chanania and his son Will in West Newbury, Massachusetts.

I took the T around noon yesterday to Wonderland, the last stop on the blue line, where Mr. Chanania was waiting to commence my tour of the North Shore. We drove north, stopping at Salem to explore the eclectic and exciting Peabody Essex Museum. This highly pleasant and uplifting museum hosts a number of rotating exhibits in addition to its permanent collections from around the world. Our favorite display was one by Japanese photographer Toshio Shibata called "Constructed Landscapes," which features the interaction between nature and man-made infrastructure while playing with size and scale.

After our visit and a lunch to catch up, we got back into the car, I eager to see the legendary new Chanania residence! I knew that 47 Coffin St. was going to be a very special place from what I'd heard, but it was even more magical than I could have imagined.

The first thing I noticed just after stepping into the mudroom was the amount of light in the house. And indeed, Mr. Chanania explained to me that they had remodeled the house with the principle that one should be exposed to natural light from three, if not four, directions when standing anywhere in the house. Naturally, I loved this.

A "small" cone of Almond Joy.
Will and "Mr. Fred" gave me the grand tour of the gloriously illuminated postcard-perfect house with its cozy spots to study, comfy corners to nap, third-level loft for children, and beautiful basement for me!

We then set out again to meet the Cutters, the Chananias' closest neighbors in the area. We spent time with their donkey, horse, two dogs, and them before returning home for an organic dinner and arresting documentary, followed up by homemade ice cream at Scoops just down the street!

When it was time to go to bed, I didn't feel like taking off my glasses because I wanted to take in the tree silhouettes lining the gray sky outside the room I was staying in, whose one entire wall was window.

I woke up to the same splendor and gazed longingly out the window for half an hour before consciously registering that something about outside was really different -- the sun was beaming after a rainy couple of days.

I ran upstairs to share this news with Mr. Chanania, who was buried in a crossword puzzle which he dropped to show me around his various impeccably-organized sheds, ending with the grande finale of the holy shed that houses Katy, Farmer Fred's sacred tractor. I was given his blessing and allowed to take Katy out for a ride, and then encouraged to try out her mowing faculty. I ended up mowing a few stripes with Mr. Chanania making me double back and clean up any areas I left stubbly -- his exacting nature in biology class apparently extends into garden-tending activities as well! I personally felt invincible on this magnificent machine, and wish I could always drive her instead of slogging further to pursue my driver's license.

Ratna takes Katy out for a ride.
After I lounged on the porch and soaked up the sun while Mr. Chanania finished mowing, we embarked on a trail that wraps around the back of the residence. We explored the lush Essex County Trail Association path before stepping out into the field that surrounds the house, enjoying a brilliant side view of the painting-like home.

While we were gone, Will had been commissioned with making eggs for us all, a task which he completed with flying culinary colors! After this snack and our walk, I was tired and wanted to sleep in my beautiful sun-box again, so I returned to the room I've now claimed in the basement and napped until it was time to leave.

We bade Will goodbye and headed north a few miles to Mr. Chanania's new favorite haunt, called the Herb Farmacy. We guffawed at the neatly labelled herbs and admired the adorable sprouts awhile, before setting off for Logan Airport. Who would have known on that first day of junior year bio when we walked around Flint Hill and identified trees that we would be embarking on such exciting horticultural adventures and have developed such an important relationship to my life just a few years later?

After a 50-minute car ride complete with Dunkin' Donuts, we arrived at the airport to welcome home Mrs. Chanania, who just spent a month in Montana to welcome their beautiful granddaughter Alder into the world!

I gave her a hug and gushed (briefly) about my weekend before wishing the Chananias "farewell until fall!" and catching my bus back to campus.

On the way back, I reflected on how the heartwarming views, clean air, and lovely company have been so refreshing to my consciousness over these two days. I had a marvelously enjoyable weekend and I can't wait to go back and visit again.

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