Friday Favorite 8/2/2013

August 2, 2013

Cheryl Katz, Contributing Editor

When my friend Nora told me that she and her husband Jim had “absolutely no plans” for this year’s July 4th holiday weekend, Jeffrey and I were delighted.

We four like spending time together and are good travel companions. But unlike holidays in the past, we wouldn’t be going to a dude ranch in Wyoming or eating our way through Bologna. We wouldn’t rush to catch a plane, or sit in long lines of traffic, or sleep in lumpy beds. This time we would spend the holiday together by taking a staycation.

Ironically, we spent almost as much time discussing where we would go within a five-mile radius of the city as we did when we planned a trip to Venice a few years ago. Like any kind of travel, we wanted our staycation travel to be exciting, invigorating, and inspiring.

Our to-do list was long and varied, ranging from a visit to the new wing at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (embarrassingly none of us had ever been) to visiting the haunts – from Somerville to South Boston (Quincy too far afield) – of Whitey Bulger and his gang.

Of all the many wonderful things we saw, the high point of our four days was a guided tour of the Boston Public Library. Granted we’d all been there, but not for many years and not for any reason other than to check out books or to do some research.

Our elegant tour guide Sally was exceptional; highly informed she helped to remind us of the grandeur of this, the first free municipal library in the United States. Designed by the architect Charles Follen McKim, the library was completed in 1895 as a “palace for the people.”  A great way to celebrate the Independence Day holiday.

Paula M. Bodah, Senior Editor
Move over terrycloth. These Mykolas Linen Towels from Anichini hark back to the days of the modest “bathing costume.” I’m not sure I’m ready to wear a dress and stockings to the beach, but I’ll gladly tote along one of these big (44 by 70 inches) hand-loomed 100 percent linen towels on my next expedition to the shore. Linen is naturally anti-microbial and more durable than terry. And it feels so good on the skin. I love the soft colors and the classic variegated stripes, too.

Kyle Hoepner, Editor-in-Chief
Working on my post yesterday about the “Composite Landscapes” show now up at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston—and specifically the late landscape architect Yves Brunier’s renderings of designs for the Museumpark in Rotterdam—reminded me of how much I love the European custom of whitewashing tree trunks.

As far as I can tell from images available online, the technique wasn’t actually used in the Rotterdam park—perhaps the idea disappeared during planning or was just a visual conceit for Brunier’s pictures, or perhaps the white bark of what seem to be many aspen trees took over a similar visual role. But, aside from its practical purpose of protecting bark from sun scald, the whitewashing custom is just, to me, simply visually charming. Do any local landscape architects want to give it a go?