Visiting Fiction in Real Life

Originally we were to be in Boston in the fall, just like Bob and Larry. It was all part of the plan but the Planner had other ideas. He took Danny’s dad Home which meant we scurried back to the Midwest, leaving Boston for…springtime.

Boston in the spring was perfect. Trees and flowers bloomed. The air was crisp but not frighteningly cold. We took public transit (kids ride for free) into the heart of the fair city and popped up right by the Boston Common and Public Garden, the oldest park in the USA (founded in 1837 but used for two centuries before that). Every parent reading this knows what we did after that.

We made way for ducklings, of course. I’ve read this story to hundreds of children in my twenty plus years of librarianship and I’ve snuggled with my own baby girls to find the perfect home with those ducks. We discuss Caldecott awards (you think I’m exaggerating but ask either of my girls and they’ll tell you how seriously Mommy takes literary medals). Like Danny cares who wins the international barbershop competition each year? I have my interests, as well.

Anyway, we plastered our children all over the famous statue commemorating the famous children’s story and then we made our way to the water. The grounds are fabulously shaded by huge, established trees including weeping willows that line the lagoon. It was positively picturesque with families meandering and little ones frolicking and water fowl…fowling. The biggest and best birds of all, clearly, are the swans who command everyone’s attention. We climbed into the legendary boats and talked about E.B.White’s “Trumpet of the Swan” and both girls eagerly looked to the front of our winged vessel for Louis. We didn’t see him this time but I bet that’s because he was off somewhere polishing his ill-begotten instrument. (If you haven’t read this book and aren’t getting these references, shame on you. Go to your library right now).







The pond is full of duck families and there really is an island in the middle where many of them have homes. The swan boats are steered and paddled by very knowledgeable young people. They sit up on a frame over bicycle pedals and use their legs to power passengers around the little waterway. We asked park-related questions and our boat captain answered them without getting winded at all. I was most impressed by her stamina. The swan boats glide smoothly through the shallow water and absolutely all involved were in the best of moods. It was a lovely way to experience Boston’s famous green space. After we disembarked, we discovered another set of swans—real ones with a nest.









Thirty minutes later we finally dragged Paige away from her new friends. They were majestic and mysterious and oh-so-sophisticated. Whenever I encounter a swan, I feel underdressed and shabby. These two were quite the elegant pair and we had the fun of watching the daddy gather twigs and grass so his lovely bride could decorate their nest just so. We even caught a glimpse of the giant eggs (with little ugly ducklings inside) when she stood up to rearrange her feathers.



We stood on the famous footbridge and people watched for awhile. We held hands. We took photos. Then we headed out of that blissful, historic oasis and into the hustle of the city in search of The Freedom Trail.

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