The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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October 13, 2012

Saturday at home

It' a crisp, bright, sunny October Saturday here, when our weekends have been a little rainy, and yesterday I had thought that I might spend the day chez Edith. I still might, before the house closes for the season, but when I woke up this morning I decided that even though I might see more foliage than we have here I didn't really want to spend half of this beautiful day in the car. And, when you're seriously in love with your new neighborhood, it's understandable that you might feel the pull of staying home. The fact that I didn't leap out of bed, without the benefit of the alarm clock, at my usual still-dark work-day time, as I had planned, didn't enter into my change of plans at all. :)

Then I remembered that Historic New England offers walking tours of Beacon Hill on Saturday mornings, and off I went. The tour actually starts with a tour of the Otis House, which was built in 1796 for Harrison Gray Otis and his wife Sally. I've never been in it before. The house is lovely, with unexpectedly bright colors, gorgeous carpets, and an unusual story about its preservation.

But what enchanted me the most (other than those carpets) was seeing another 'Fishing Lady'!  These are large, very complex, very detailed scenes done in needlepoint in the 18th century, in tiny stitches, in large panels ('overmantels').  There's one in the Museum of Fine Arts that I look for whenever I go, and this one, that hangs over the mantel in Sally Otis' bedroom...

As it turns out, there's another piece of needlework in the Museum's collection -- stitched by Hannah Otis, Harrison Gray Otis' aunt, in about 1750, when she was 21 -- that seems to follow in the same tradition.  But her piece shows Boston Common and Beacon Hill.  It's not on display now, but I hope it will be, sometime. I would love to see it.

And look what I found when I got home! There's even a chance that I might be able to have a 'Fishing Lady' my own.

{from Needlework Masterpieces from Winterthur, by Hollis Greer Minor}

The walking part of the walking tour was equally wonderful. Beacon Hill is one of my favorite places to wander through, and I'm already looking for chances to read more about it. What I didn't do (arrgggh) was remember to bring my camera. But part of the fun of being a tourist in your own city is that you can come back, whenever you want! And I will, and if you want, I'll show you where I went.

Off to return some books before the library closes. I hope your Saturday is lovely, too.


JoAnn said...

What a wonderful way to spend the day! It's been many years since I walked around Beacon Hill, but such vivid images still come to mind.

Between moving Daughter #1 to NYC and then the unexpected rehousing of Twin A (tomorrow's Sunday Salon post will have details), a trip to Chez Edith has been out of the question. Now I'm afraid the Berkshires may be past peak...

Karen K. said...

I'd love to see The Mount, and so jealous of your fall foliage, which is nonexistent in south Texas. Le sigh.

However, I was recently in NYC and while on a walking tour of Manhattan's Gold Coast, I saw the apartment building mentioned in her short story After Holbein, which I've never read. I think fall would be a good time to revisit Edith.

Thank you for visiting!

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