Abigail Pawska-Orzolek is a recorded rambler. While reserved and quiet in person, she comes to life on the page, pardon the cliché. Although not the most abstract writer, poetry has never quite sparked her interest, Abigail thoroughly enjoys playing with words and forming scenes from sentences. She has a great respect for the craft, in fact has never succumbed to texting short hand and instead spends a minute on a text in order to edit her message to fit the allotted space. Abigail currently operates a blog focusing on food, writing, and the joy of cooking. Born and bred in New England, Abigail has a strong affection for Vermont skiing, New Hampshire hiking, and Cape Cod beaches. Abigail aspires to settle in a Boston brownstone after a life of travel and contributing to food and travel magazines.
There is a little retreat not many people know about in the Northeast, at the farthest extension into the Atlantic. At the very tip of Massachusetts’ arm is Long Point Beach. It is located right across the harbor from the hustle and bustle of tourist filled Commercial Street in Provincetown. A place that can be described as an artist’s village, fishing town, and overall wild child with no reservations or propriety.
Of all the summers I have spent in the area, I never knew of its existence. Long Point Beach has been a recent discovery of ours. About 3 years ago was when we first ventured into the harbor, on our little ocean kayaks, paddling with great fervor to discover what may lie at this last stretch of land before the expanse of the great Atlantic. A quiet, little island sits, accessible only by boat or a walk across a raised rock bridge during low tide. It is a little recluse featuring wonderful beachy things. Glossy stones, each one unique in color, minerals, shape, and texture. Wispy, faded green beach grass that warns you about getting too close with its sharp texture. Even a lighthouse, a short, fat little thing that tempts
your curiosity but always remains locked. You even feel like a great explorer, docking your boat on the shore, overlooking the town you left behind, then running and leaping as fast as you can through the trail of beach grass over the burning hot sand, to finally arrive at the squat lighthouse. Reserve an hour or two for a stroll and a little lounging, then brave the harbor once again! After fighting the choppy little waves, weaving through anchored boats, and reboarding after any potential capsizes, restore spent energy at Mojo’s. Fresh seafood, burgers, and French fries is a meal well deserved of a voyager mild
It’s funny to think of how certain places have the capacity to inspire so many people, when the inspiration it fosters in you feels like such a personal experience. Provincetown, Massachusetts, that colorful and rambunctious village, feels a bit like home to me. My Provincetown is encapsulated in afternoon strolls down Commercial Street, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of tourists and locals alike. It includes sitting on the bayside beach while indulging in delicious ice cream, fudge, or salt water taffy. And morning bike rides along thin cottage lined streets surrounded by the sweet scent of blooming flowers, on the prowl for iced coffee or a ginger-lemon iced tea in the morning. Even my perpetually salted hair, awkward tan lines, and temporarily untarnished joie de vivre are a part of my Provincetown experience.
Being separate from the mainland has seemed to fuel this village’s wild-child tendencies, like a kid free from their parents’ watchful and regulating eye. It’s this incredible uniqueness that draws in romantics like me, artists, writers, anyone with a few screws loose who is capable in finding beauty in the strangest things. Hudson Dean Walker, and art collector, had this to say about Provincetown in 1965, “But as a place to spend the summer I find that Provincetown has the combination of beauty of the works of humanity and nature that makes it a very pleasant place to be.” Walter P. Chrysler, another art collector, describes how Provincetown has resonated with the art community in this instance, “Since the late 19th century Provincetown has attracted painters and writers enamored by the peerless light and picturesque location here. The early marine painters of the picturesque, naturalists depicting provincial characters, the impressionists painting light, the abstract expressionists creating spontaneous forms, have through this whole last century helped establish Provincetown as a painters’ place.” Salvatore Del Deo, an artist who has spent a large portion of his life painting in Ptown, embellishes on the harmony the town fosters between people of all walks of life, being a “wonderful community which had a great sympathy and understanding of the young artist… the fisherman and the painter have been together since 1890 in this town, and that’s quite a unique relationship.”
Another aspect of Provincetown is its friendly character. No one is a stranger in this place. One random night, my friends and I dropped in at the Crown and Anchor. As we stepped on the patio and peered into the place, it seemed like the whole bar was amassed around the piano, its player conducting the crowd and engaging everyone in song. Conversation with a local sparks so easily. Another time, I was sitting with my friend outside of café, it was around 9 pm on July 4th, and we had decided to treat ourselves to something sweet. As I picked up my fork and dug it into the tres leches in front of me, a very friendly man at the table right next to us asked me what was the glorious looking thing I had on my plate in front of me. Alex Sáenz, the chef at Ten Tables knows exactly what I’m talking about, “The beauty of the people—I’ve met some of the kindest people, who I’ll call my friends for life…”
Here is a portrait an amazing place, at once a fishing village and an artist community. Provincetown seems to welcome anyone who wanders into its territory, it is quite far from anything else after all, what can it do but be as hospitable and entertaining as it is?
I’m such a sucker for New England, give me some leaves changing color, a coastal fishing town, some big rocky mountains, a drive through a wooded area after a snowstorm, and you’ve got the happiest girl on earth. New England’s a big place though, so let’s take a closer look at Massachusetts, my home state. Here’s a selection of places I have visited, accompanied by my personal experiences, that I believe should be destinations for everyone. Believe me, your life will not be complete until you see them all (insert mild sarcasm here).
I have not been all over the world, no, but out of everywhere I have visited, Boston remains as my favorite city. There is a combination of class, history, and culture that you cannot get anywhere else in the U.S. while still maintaining the fast paced, modern ideology that is not as pronounced in European cities. Along with the destinations that will be listed, I recommend some shopping in the North End or on Newbury Street, a tour of the Harvard campus in Cambridge, and a walk through historic Beacon Hill. Also consider Upper Crust for pizza, Formaggio for gourmet cheese and other food products, and Flour Bakery for some sweet treats.
Shelburne Falls is a historic town that has a great small town New England feel. Try to go in the warmer seasons so you can walk the Bridge of Flowers and check out the Bridge of flowers as well as the glacial potholes. When I was a kid we used to frequent the glacial potholes while staying at a friend’s place in Warwick, MA. We would spend a wonderful summer day swimming in the pools and jumping from one to another. Unfortunately, the potholes have been closed to swimmers, however they are still a neat sight to see.
I have been vacationing near this small Portuguese fishing village turned art community since I was a little girl. Even after 11 years, I have never found myself bored with it. Bike through town in the morning and stop by Wired Puppy for a cup of coffee. Hit Mojo’s for your typical fried seafood lunch, and at night, stop by the Crown and Anchor for drinks and sing along to show tunes and musical numbers. Don’t forget a cone from the best ice cream in town at Lewis Brother’s and take it with you for a walk with the crowd along Commercial Street.
The Cape Cod National Seashore is a hidden recluse for all New Englanders. Not many people know of the bike trails and diverse beaches that are easily accessible with a seasonal pass. Also make a trip to Racepoint or Highland Lighthouse. I spend a week at the cape every summer and it has become tradition to bike from the Head of Meadow beach to Provincetown for a cup of coffee in the morning. My favorite part of the ride is biking along 6A in the residential area surrounding Ptown. It is a blissful 2 hours. To feel the sea breeze is so welcoming and comforting, the amazing scent of flowers from a shrub I regretfully do not know the name of carries in the wind, and all I can imagine is spending every morning for the rest of my life like this, perhaps living in one of the faded grey cottages squeezed together too tightly that I pass along my way.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Museum of Fine Arts is an incredible building that honestly feels like home to me. My favorite thing to do in any museum is to choose a favorite genre/style of art, start in that gallery, and then wander for the rest of my allotted time. There are also plenty of events hosted at the MFA that may be more entertaining. Also consider the children’s tour if you have little ones.
Museum of Science, Boston
There is so much neat information in this museum, especially because there is a rotation of the exhibits. So plan a day allowing for plenty of time for exploration and learning. Consider seeing a movie at the Omni Theater as well, the film is projected onto a domed screen on the ceiling and it’s a cool experience.
Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge
Although I don’t think of Rockwell as a painter in the same way that I think of Monet as a painter, I do believe Rockwell is a very talented artist who was capable of engaging his audience in a very unique way. His museum in the Berkshires is well worth the visit to get a look at a large body of his work.
Think upscale picnic with quality live entertainment. Recurring guests, such as Diana Krall, Yo-Yo Ma, and James Taylor, grace Tanglewood’s outdoor stage. Grab a few friends and be sure to pack a blanket, a gourmet meal, a bottle of good wine, and some candles.
Symphony Hall, Boston
Visit a historic music hall that hosts world-class musicians and performers. I typically ended up asleep by the end of the performances when I was a kid, but at my age now, this place holds a certain wonder and I remain engaged until the standing ovation.
Sculler’s Jazz Club, Allston
Although this establishment hosts a more specific genre of music, there is no limitation set on the quality of acts performing at Sculler’s. I have repeatedly seen Donal Fox and his ever-changing band here. Fox is a classically trained jazz musician who is capable of blending Bach into his improvisations for an incredibly unique sound. Try to get a ticket to one of his shows when he’s around if you have the chance.
Sweet Basil, Needham
Sweet Basil is on this list purely for its atmosphere. The small dining room amplifies conversations, tables are smushed together, you get peeks into the kitchen revealing chef’s setting their pans ablaze… If I wasn’t a vegetarian I would probably be very happy with the menu at Sweet Basil, unfortunately there were only two vegetarian entrees, they were both ravioli style dishes, and the one I ordered wasn’t exactly a revelation of any kind. However, the owner and chef, Brian Decker was incredibly friendly and gave me a little tour of the kitchen before he was called to some other business.
The Red Lentil, Watertown
Here is a fantastic little vegetarian restaurant located in Watertown. Don’t go expecting any fine dining though; just expect some really tasty food. The last time I went to Red Lentil, I had the restaurant’s Heuvos Rancheros, which included fried cashew fritters and a phenomenal ranchero sauce. I look forward to visiting again, because I do get tired of having to settle for a second thought vegetarian entrée featured at most restaurants.
In case you find yourself in western Mass, perhaps visiting the colleges or Quabbin Reservoir, you must go to Judie’s. Here is a typical American restaurant that serves some really tasty food. Their popovers with apple butter, alone, are worth the trip.
Other New England:
White Mountains, NH
A simple drive through this area, along route 4, is worth the travel. Rolling hills, secluded lakes, and rocky rivers litter the White Mountains. So take a hike! There are trails ranging in difficulty from easy to advanced that all have the promise of a tranquil way up to a phenomenal view. I recently hiked up to the summit of Canon Mountain. It took about six hours and we were exposed to saturated greenery, occasional vertical rock climbing, and a surprise mountain lake. There was one path walled by coniferous trees, lined with moss, where you walked on raised wooden structures. The place had an incredible atmosphere to it, I felt as though I was entering into some kind of fairyland. I did struggle quite a bit on the way up, but the view was well worth the pain!
New England can feel like a frozen wasteland in winter sometimes, but with the right opportunity, you can take full advantage of our unique climate and geography. I recommend making a little ski trip to Stratton Mountain, or big if you have the time and money. I’m pretty sure I have skied almost all of the Ski Mountains in New England, and Stratton is my favorite. The lodging is very nice and most importantly features the heated pools and outdoor Jacuzzis that are essential to the ski trip experience. Stratton also has the most adorable base village that I have ever seen. There’s a bit of shopping available to you, and plenty of dining options.
Apple/Pumpkin/Berry Picking, anywhere!
The most important thing to do in New England in fall, is to go apple picking. I know exactly what apple picking is all about; first time wearing a coat in a long time, chilly fingers, fresh apple scent in the air while on the hay ride to the orchard, first fresh apple of the entire year, an experience so pure, juicy, and unspoiled that nothing can compare… It is essential that you first get some hot cider, pick a bushel, and finish the day with a caramel apple. Be sure to bring home some cider donuts and an apple pie, Dr. Abigail prescribed it all.
Personal favorite: http://www.tougasfarm.com/index.html
Acadia National Park, ME
Acadia is a truly beautiful park located on Mount Desert Island, Maine. I have not spent nearly enough time exploring all that the park has to offer, however, I can offer some suggestions. Spend some time on Sandy Beach. Although it doesn’t have the most creative name, it is tons of fun to explore the rocky barriers surrounding the beach before it opens into the ocean. Also take a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain at night to get a view of the most brilliant night sky I have ever had the pleasure OF admiring.
Long Point Light is a short piece on a personal experience I wish to share with everyone. I attempted to convey the excitement and mystery of this little private island-like area. My motivation behind writing about this experience was to paint a fun and almost exotic scene. The idea of pirates sailing the seas in search of treasure seemed to translate well to our journey across the bay in order to reach the treasure of this secluded beach. It truly is a joy to kayak across the bay, getting soaking wet, to finally arrive at the rocky beach to dry in the sunshine. The most poetic piece of the story is the lighthouse. It is inaccessible, quite unassuming, and fascinating in its seemingly ordinary and yet forbidden character. My goal was to make the piece seem as far from an article found in your typical travel magazine and instead come across as prose, a little story told.
We’ve plowed through dinner, an unexpectedly grand feast considering our
artillery consists of single burner Coleman gas stoves, picnic benches, and soggy ingredients from coolers filled with perpetually melting ice. The campground is starting to get a bit darker and sweaters and long pants are starting to appear from tents. Like the gunshot signaling the beginning of a race, these things signal that it’s time to head over to Head of the Meadow beach for the bonfire.
There is nothing I look forward to more throughout the whole year, besides Christmas… maybe, than our week at the Cape. These moments are so pure, being entirely removed from the hassles and stresses everyday life presents, and so enjoyable, being able to share them with such close friends. I always feel like I’m driving home raspberry and orange glow on the beach. The boys unload the logs of wood, as one fumbles with crumpled newspaper, matches, and kindle. There’s always the one time when the one guy douses the entire thing with lighter fluid, just to see it set ablaze. While us young folk pick the perfect spot on the beach and arrange our set up, our parents trickle down the dunes with their chairs and a cooler or two. In this section in time, this is all we need to be content; a place to sit, a jacket to keep us warm, and a little nourishment, in both food and liquid form. I settle in with my girls and we sit against the huge piece of driftwood that has remained in the same place all these years. Even though we eventually leave the beach behind for a year that weathered and faded tree trunk is always here waiting for us next summer.While I assume people usually have corn, potatoes, maybe fish, and s’mores, being Polish, we always bring kielbasa. We make s’mores too, of course, but first we make kielbasa. Sections lay hovering over the fire until they get crispy and the fat starts to drip and sizzles as it hits the embers. The younger kids move in a whirlwind, running from the fire to check on their kielbasa, to the lapping water to inspect glossy stones, or the white lifeguard chair to climb its ladder and jump from the top. I remember being their age, when the chair seemed at least ten feet higher.
Polish conversation fills the air, intermingling with the calls of seagulls and echoing campfire songs from the other groups around. Inspired by the music, we take charge of the beach belting out “Hej Sokoły.”
Omijajcie góry, lasy, pola, doły.
Dzwoń, dzwoń, dzwoń dzwoneczku,
Mój stepowy skowroneczku
Which brings a little culture to the sandy beach. As the supplies of wine and beer dwindle, our laughter intensifies, and it is soon time for the adults and little ones to head back to the tents. As space frees up, we all move closer around the fire. Sitting as close to the flames as we can to keep warm, but far enough away so we don’t cook ourselves. By this time, we’re all dispersed. Some sitting on chairs, others against the log, and a few laying on a mat and sharing a blanket. The boys let loose and make racist and sexist jokes.
“So the mom says ‘That’s right sweetheart, goals and dreams are Satan’s way of distracting you from making dinner.’”
I try not to laugh but sometimes it’s too hard to hold back. That’s what I like about them so much, their strong humor, which is not always offensive, mind you, it just doesn’t exist when I hang out with my girl friends. It makes me feel a little honored that they let us in, even if just for a bit. In the background someone plays DJ, inspiring the occasional pause in communication when everyone gets lost in the rhythm, nodding our head or tapping our feet to the beats bumping from the speakers. I withdraw myself from the jokes, conversation, and music to reflect. I lay back for a minute, to listen to the crackle of the fire and the waves crashing on the sand. Take in a breath and inhale the salt air, breathe out the pollution of the city and the drama carried from life at home. At this moment, time stops. My sole focus becomes these breaths, in and out, cleansing and peaceful. Until my friends fall down next to me, and I’m suddenly brought back, but I’m happy to be brought back, to be with my people.We look up at the stars together and search the dark sky for one constellation we can recognize, the big dipper, and the occasional shooting star. The stars are brighter on the beach then they are at home, in the city or the suburbs. We attribute it to “light pollution”, but I think is has more to do with the fact that no one cares to pay attention to the stars at home.
No one will argue that the adoption of responsibilities and the constant pursuit of success are detrimental to our well being. It’s incredibly important to study, to work, to research, to constantly put in the effort in order to advance our current status, but I believe it is just as essential to incorporate time for events like these into our lives. They’re the prescription to contentment, because no one can make you laugh harder than a friend, nothing can keep you warmer than a bonfire on the beach, nothing can be more delicious than a freshly roasted s’more, and nothing feels better than a song belted out at the top of your lungs.