For quite a long time, Providence banned dogs in public parks. As a matter of fact, it still does -- but now the enlightened Parks Superintendent and her board have created a couple of places where our four-legged friends can romp, safely behind fences. I have to say, I'm not wild about the "authorized" parks so I'm going to tell you about the very best of the UNauthorized parks in the City: Wanskuck Park, which is located on Woodward Road off Veazie Street in a little corner of the city close to North Providence and Route 146. Wanskuck was given to the city about fifty years ago by the Aldrich family, which owned a substantial mansion on twenty-four gracious, tree-lined acres. The mansion is long gone, but what remains is a delight -- and often, during the middle of the day and thereafter, is full of dogs frolicking, chasing frisbees, and enjoying the freedom to run free. There is a dirt walking trail, benches, and plenty of trash cans. Wanskuck is a fine place for a picnic, too; it is large enough to accommodate both dogs and picnickers without anyone feeling pinched.
Being what amounts to a native Detroiter, I grew up around wonderful Lebanese food and it was one of the things I missed the most when I moved to Rhode Island more than twenty years ago. I was at a local Honda dealer today, and just happened to glance across the street to see the Pita Market, which turns out to specialize in Mediterranean cuisine and groceries. Hardly daring to believe my good fortune, I quickly pulled in and ordered some grape leaves and two pies (one spinach, one lamb)...and when I got them home, I immediately wished I'd ordered substantially more stuff. I will need to go back and fill my back seat with goodies that can be frozen.
The market features labneh, kibbe, kafta, fattoush, schwarma, m'jdarra, and the usual stuff like hummus, tabbouleh and baba ghannouj as well as pastries, spices, grains, and candies. They also make sandwiches, none of which I've tried...yet. Apparently the market won the 2007 Rhode Island Monthly Editor's Pick for a best new place, but I wasn't paying attention.
The Pita Market is located at 184 Taunton Street (Route 44), Seekonk MA 02771. It is open M-F 8:30-7:00, Saturday 8:30-6, and Sunday 10-4. Ask for Samin Khoury, the owner.
The North Burial Ground at 5 Branch Ave & North Main Street in Providence dates to the 1700's. There are multiple layers of history entwined throughout its many acres...recording the history of the city as well as much of the state. The artwork of the stones and statuary are a study in themselves. On a recent tour by Robert O. Jones, historian, we enjoyed a number of features of this grand old park/cemetery.
There are artist carved stones from the early 1700's, a stone for the poet who was engaged to Edgar Allen Poe but she dumped him! A fabulous elk statue presides over a section devoted to men who were members of the fraternal organization known as the Elks. A beautiful bronze statue known as the Hiker is part of a section devoted to the fallen of the Spanish American War. There are so many stories to be told and so many vistas to enjoy. If you are a lover of cemeteries, it's worth stopping in at the office near the gate and pick up a map which includes a Self-guided Walking Tour of the North Burial Ground. Open 8 AM to 4 PM seven days a week.
The new horticultural center has a definate Spanish influence...perhaps because the gardeners there have been Portuguese or Cape Verdians over the years. Gardeners at the park tend to stay for many, many years and adopt some of the plant material as if it were their own.
I noticed a heavy reliance on water elements in the design of the center. Not complaining, but until the exterior and additional greenhouses are completed, it almost seems repititious to have so much of it in the two large greenhouses. Each one was lovely, but my favorite was this old basin with water splashing on round, smooth rocks.
Now if only my new little fountain would look that good in my garden this year. :-)
Jay Critchley is an immaginative artist who brought a group together to create art installations at the North Burial Ground for a summer of interesting viewing and contemplation. Artists who were writers, historians, sculptors, and more...collaborated to present a modern interpretation of the North Burial Ground and its "otherworldly voices".
In an abandoned mausauleum, Jay wrapped a 1960's car as if in elaborate mummy tapes and placed the car inside the first reception room....titling it "Final Passage".
Rachel Siemering created a touching and thought provoking display in Potter's Field with "The Bells Ring for Thee". She wired pieces of tin to wave in the breeze...creating a bit of noise...similar to bells.
Nancy Austin & Caroline Woolard presented a Tea Party in an installation known as "Footnotes - a Tribute to Albert J. Jones" the forgotten founder of RI's first "Art Museum". The Tea Party was presented among the stones on tables w/ cups hanging under them....silver tea pots holding hot water, and we were offered 5 foot long tea bags to dunk and then drape around our necks. 1800's shoes hung from a tree...a reference to FOOTnotes. The sugar was supplied in the form of a bust of Jones made out of sugar...where we picked our sugar w/ 1800's tongs.
Everyone enjoyed the sunny afternoon as you would any day in the park during a beautiful weekend in New England autumn.
The artists plan to return in two years with more thought provoking installations for us to enjoy, bringing awareness and appreciation to the old cemetery.
Just visited the new Horticultural Center in Roger Williams Park today. What a beauty! And it was so warm and wonderful in there with all those marvelous aromas. Wind was cold and nasty outside. The new center will have outdoor gardens and pathways later on, but for now you can enjoy palms and cactus...and all sorts of tropical blossoms scattered amongst several fountains and waterfalls. Everyone seemed very happy to be in there today.
My favorite was a special lavender that grew in abundance ... and I'm wondering if I couldn't have some big stands of it in my garden come summer.
Prospect Park--located on the top of a hill at Congdon and Cushing Streets. A hard climb, but when you get to the top and see the statue of Roger Williams looking out at the city he founded, it's worth it. I think he's actually buried up here, too. Amazing views of the city, and is a perfect place to watch the sunset and smooch your date :)
Also the home of Rhode Island School of Design, you'll find several small studios and art galleries as you explore the back streets on foot.
I went to the cemetery by bus but I came back to the city center on foot. The East Side is full of gorgeous houses that look prettier with the autumn foliage. It was a very enjoyable walk.
Many of the houses in this neighborhood are in fact medical or dental clinics. I have the feeling that the rent must be astronomical!