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Posts Tagged ‘Harvard Square’

darwins mug heart table striped journal

When I thought about the shape of this freelancing summer, I knew one thing: it would still include lots of time in Cambridge.

I’ve been working on several projects for Harvard, which means I sometimes come into the Square for meetings and research. But, more simply and importantly: this is my neighborhood. I love it here in Cambridge, and whether I’m sending out resumes, writing book reviews or meeting friends, there’s no place I’d rather be than Harvard Square.

Tuesdays this summer, in particular, have fallen into a routine I’m loving.

First: a morning with my journal and laptop at Darwin’s, drinking tea, writing and answering emails. Sometimes I meet up with a friend and we co-work for a while, taking breaks to chat. Other times it’s just me: elbows on a green table, sunshine pouring through the plate-glass window at my back.

The sunset walls, the cheerful baristas, strong Earl Grey or ginger peach in a deep mug and a sweet-tart lemon scone: all of these are deeply familiar delights. I nod to a couple of other regulars, and either ease or dive into the work, depending on the day.

Around lunchtime, I close my laptop and head to the Harvard farmers’ market, where I get lunch from Amanda: homemade Texas tamales, elotes (street corn) slathered with garlicky sauce and spices, and a container of salsa roja to take home to my husband.

tamales elotes lunch

I find a shady spot, if I can, to perch and eat my lunch. The people-watching at the market is always a treat, and then I go pick up the week’s fruit from my favorite produce guys. I loved chatting with them about the World Cup earlier in the summer, but we also talk about the weather, the market or whatever comes to mind.

I run a few errands or go work at the library for a while, then frequently meet a friend in the afternoon for (iced) tea. Inevitably, I’ll run into another few folks I know (or see some of my favorite baristas), and sometimes I go by the florist to pick up a bouquet for my kitchen table.

Making the rounds, seeing my people, walking the familiar streets I love: this is my place. And on Tuesdays, especially, I get to glory in it.

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longfellow garden radcliffe yard

I have worked in Harvard Square for almost a year now, and in that time I have traversed what feels like every inch of it, most of those inches more than once. I spend most of my lunch breaks and other scattered pockets of time tramping down streets whose historic names are now familiar: Brattle, Dunster, Holyoke, Plympton. Oxford, JFK, Mount Auburn, Bow (which runs into Arrow, a tiny detail of a joke that always makes me smile). I am constantly filling in my mental map of the area with new detail. I had visited Harvard Square often before I took a job here, but now this is my neighborhood.

Sometimes I walk purposefully, like the local I am now, a denizen of this bustling metropolis filled with students and university employees and tourists. I go to the bank and the post office, head to the farmers’ market in warm weather, shop at the Harvard Book Store or the Curious George Store for birthday gifts or books. Sometimes I have errands to run, and I head out into the bitter cold on a mission, often rewarding myself with half an hour in a cafe and a cup of tea.

tealuxe interior cambridge ma

But sometimes I pull my camera out and gawk like any tourist. I snap photo after photo of the hidden and public angles of Harvard Square, such as snow-topped roofs on red brick buildings, some of them older than the state I call home.

snow harvard yard gate

The white spire of Memorial Church, tipped with a flying gold banner, beautiful against a sky of blue or gray or sunset pink.

memorial church harvard yard blue sky

Fresh tulips outside a florist’s shop, a musician busking in Brattle Square.

tulips harvard square

The sunken garden on Appian Way, adjacent to my building, and the larger expanse of Harvard Yard, the beating green heart of Harvard College.

harvard yard cambridge ma

I am learning to name the spires of Harvard as I learned to name the spires of Oxford: instead of Christ Church, Magdalen, Corpus Christi and St Aldates, there are Eliot, Adams, Dunster, Memorial Church.

The tallest one is also my favorite: Lowell House, bright blue and gold reaching into the endless sky. I love it because of the story of the Russian bells that fill its tower, and because I have actually been up inside it: my professor friend Ryan took me on a tour long ago.

lowell house tower

I walk around Cambridge the way I used to walk around Oxford: sometimes on an errand, but chiefly for the sheer pleasure of ambling, watching, enjoying, tasting, being.  It’s not always a postcard scene or a calendar photo. But it is bustling and vibrant, endlessly changing, endlessly fascinating. It’s beautiful and maddening and wonderfully interesting. And it’s mine.

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It’s still Autumn Colors Week over at Poppytalk, and today’s color is orange. It’s showing up all over Harvard Square this fall, starting in Harvard Yard:

Oct 2013 001

These chairs look so companionable.

chairs harvard yard cambridge ma autumn leaves

There’s also orange at the farmers’ market:

pumpkins farmers market

And in Radcliffe Yard:

tree longfellow hall harvard autumn cambridge ma

leaves autumn trees radcliffe yard harvard

At the coffee shop:

tealuxe emily deep valley maud hart lovelace

And on Cambridge Common:

trees cambridge common autumn cambridge ma

Where is orange showing up for you this fall?

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tea journal sunglasses

A quiet solo hour at Tealuxe. Catching up on journaling, answering a letter from my pen pal, and sipping Lady Londonderry tea (a lovely, light black tea with strawberry and lemon).

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I’m clearly in a Cambridge phase right now, as evidenced by my recent adventures there: brunch in Central Square and a wonderful book event at Porter Square Books. And thanks to a stellar event lineup at the Harvard Book Store, I’ve found myself in Harvard Square several times lately.

I nearly always arrive hungry, with a bit of time to kill between my arrival and the book event. So I wind my way down Brattle Street and end up at Crema Cafe for a snack and a hot drink.

crema cafe cambridge ma hot chocolate

A heart in my hot chocolate

It’s often crowded at the end of the workday, but if you can snag a table, it’s a cozy atmosphere with funky music, yummy soups and quiche, and whimsical designs in the foam on top of your cocoa (or latte).

crema cafe cambridge ma soup hot chocolate

There’s nothing I love more than a neighborhood coffee shop where I can curl up, sip something delicious, and read or write or people-watch as I please. (Or, as on a recent afternoon, exchange chitchat with the barista about Les Miserables after he calls out an order for “Cosette.”)

crema cafe tomato soup iced tea cambridge ma

Where do you go for a yummy, light dinner and a warm, comforting (or cool, refreshing) drink?

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