Forget about whether the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2. February 2 is also known as Candlemas, an ancient festival marking the midpoint of winter, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox! Doesn’t that sound more positive than pinning our hopes on a groundhog? To nudge us even closer to spring, we’ve rounded up 8 Great Things for you to do in the month ahead, with many thanks to Anne Whiting Real Estate for sponsoring this!
We’ve already thrown out our 2020 calendar and we’re excited to greet 2021! To get us off on the right foot, we’ve found 8 Great Things for you to do in the month ahead, with many thanks to Anne Whiting Real Estate for sponsoring this fun list!
1. Run Away!
Some of us may have picked up some bad habits in 2020. Start some good ones this month by joining the
December is that super busy time of year when we’re overwhelmed with parties, shopping, cooking, entertaining. Except not this year. Sure, we’ll still be busy getting ready for the holidays but our calendars are going to be a lot more open. So use this year as an excuse to slow down a little and build in some quality time celebrating all the wonders the South Coast has to offer. Enjoy our 8 Great Things for the month ahead, with many thanks to Anne Whiting Real Estate for sponsoring this fun list!
The Symphony Shop’s ChrisMoose sporting a ukelele that could be yours!
1. Uke Can Do It!
Just say the word ukulele and the corners of your mouth start turning up. It just conjures up the feeling of happiness and good times. So there has never been a better time to pick up the ukulele than now. The Z is obliging by offering us a 4 week virtual classes for kids and adults, beginners and advanced beginners. And may we suggest you check out the Symphony Shop in Dartmouth to buy your ukulele. See here to register for the classes.
2. Say Bakery Bike 5 Times Fast
The Starchasers are meeting at the Buzzards Bay Coalition headquarters in New Bedford’s downtown for a slow ride around the city that they’ve dubbed the Casual Bakery Bike Tour. We love every word in that name: Bakery, Casual. Bike. Tour. Join them on Saturday, December 5 at 9:30. Registration is free but you must register here. Register early because space is limited.
3. To Market, To Market
Tiverton is keeping its farmer’s market going through the winter in the airy and light-filled community hall at Sandywoods Center for the Arts where they’ll open all the windows and doors to let the outside in (and increase air flow). With safe, easy access to fresh and local produce, meats, seafood, art, and music every Tuesday — rain or shine — from 2 to 6 pm, we bet it’ll be the highlight of your winter weeks. 43 Muse Way, Tiverton. Starting December 15, through the winter. See more here.
4. Snow Place Like Home
The 1834 Rotch-Jones-Duff mansion is dressed to the nines for the holiday season and the garden will be illuminated from sundown on, seven days a week. Even better — on Fridays in December, they will have family friendly themed nights (like Ugly Sweater Spirit Night and Hoe, Hoe, Hoedown!) See more here.
5. The Show Must Go On
The New Bedford Symphony’s Holiday Pops concert is an annual tradition and they’re not letting us down this year! They’ve got lots of treats: the NBSO musicians will be performing holiday favorites at festive South Coast locations, the Showstoppers will be there, and — special treat — Broadway’s Elena Shaddow will sing holiday songs with Yaniv’s virtual accompaniment. Tickets are just $10 and you’ll receive a private Youtube link — you can watch the performance when it first airs on December 19th and for the month following that. See more here.
6. Celebrate the Solstice
Start the shortest day of the year off with a little nature and community. The Buzzards Bay Coalition has a sunrise stroll on the Solstice. It makes our list every December because we love the idea of joining together on the solstice. We also love the idea that from here on out guys, each day gets a little longer! Monday, December 21 at 6:30 a.m. Registration is free but you must register here.
7. D-I-Y Christmas Fun
We love cookies. And we love decorating them. What don’t we love? We don’t love gathering all the things needed to create beautifully decorated treats. Meredith Rousseau jumps in to rescue us! Order her Artisan Bake Shop kits to make cute cottages or colorful mittens and you’ll be able to throw yourself right into the decorating. Everything you need comes in the kits. And you know the cookies are made locally, with love. Artisan Bake Shop, 265 Walnut Plain Road, Rochester.
8. Wander A Bit
We’re adding something a little outside our borders because this will make you feel like you’ve really travelled across space and time. Rather than a stuck-at-home resident of 2020, pretend you’re a nineteenth century resident of the Gilded Age. The Breakers mansion in Newport is all gussied up for guests for the holidays and has a sparkling light show starting daily at 4 pm. Guests can purchase hot beverages (including adult beverages) to enjoy while strolling the grounds outside. See more here.
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Turn up the heat and settle into the short, dark days with some things to distract us until the turkey is served. We’ve got something for everyone on the list: outdoor runs, madcap bicycle adventures, history happy hours, art, music and some nature. Many, many thanks to Anne Whiting Real Estate who sponsors this monthly round-up of things to do to keep our spirits up!
1. Get Both Oars in the Water
To have both oars in the water is an idiom meaning “to be and remain in a calm, stable, sensible, and pragmatic state or condition; to not be subject to extreme emotional reactions or affected by exceptional changes in one’s situation.” You can physically get both oars in the water with the Buzzards Bay Coalition at their Onset Bay Center with some instructional rowing for adults. Monday, November 2, 2020. 3:30 to 4:30 pm. Free but you have to register.
2. Tragedy, History and a Beer Tasting
If you need a reason to drink on a Tuesday, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House presents us with an educational one. Their history happy hour — H3 — is a brief talk on a historical topic accompanied by a virtual beer tasting. Local bartender, Nick Serpa will recommend a brew or two for you to share from home while you watch and learn about The Black Sheep by Mattapoisett’s Francis Davis Millet, including tragic details from the piece’s acquisition by the New Bedford Free Public Library. Suggested donation: $5 Members / $10 Public. Tuesday, November 10, 5:30 pm. Register in advance for this virtual event here.
3. Run, All Month Long.
The 6th Annual DNRT Trail Race is a little different this year. First off, you have the entire month to complete it (no “I’ve got a conflict” excuses). Second, you can mix and match among 3 unique 5K courses through picturesque DNRT properties which you can either run or walk. Run all 3 to compete for the coveted Triple Beanie (see this beauty on the right). All registrants receive a t-shirt and a Refried Apparel face mask. Find out all about it here.
4. Celebrate Fall River’s Newest Museum
After a first-time visit to MASS MoCA in North Adams this summer, we were blown away with the great combination created when you mix contemporary with old mills. When last month’s Fall River Fabric Festival featured a contemporary museum exhibit in the Merrow mill, visions of future possibilities danced through our heads! They’re keeping the current exhibit up until December 12 and you can see it by appointment. Sure, setting up an appointment is more work than just strolling in but it’s worth it: the museum’s creators, Harry & Brittni Harvey, can give you the inside scoop on the art. How often can you experience that!? Email them at [email protected] to schedule your visit.
We’ve just learned of the New Bedford Starchasers and we’re so intrigued. Join them on a bicycle-powered food drive: part bike ride, part madcap scavenger hunt. All you need is a bike (or other human-powered or assistive device), a lock and a bag. Last year, the Starchasers collected over 130 pounds of food for the United Way’s Hunger Heroes Project! This mission is free, open to the public, and cosmically inclusive! Saturday, November 14, 8 to 2 pm. See more here.
Behind the scenes at the New Bedford Symphony’s last virtual concert!
6. “An Emotional Rollercoaster”
No, not the tagline for 2020. It’s how Shostakovich’s first Piano Concerto has been described: beginning in a restrained manner only to spiral out of control by the end. Written for the unusual instrumentation of piano, strings, and trumpet, the piece spans musical styles and includes quotations from folk songs, classical music, cabaret, and silent films. Watch as the New Bedford Symphony safely places 22 musicians (strings and trumpet) plus conductor Yaniv Dinur and internationally acclaimed pianist Alexander Korsantia on stage at The Z for a fantastic virtual performance of Shostakovich and Dvořák’s Serenade for String! November 21, virtually. See more here. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved here.
7. The Wonders of Nature
Think about splurging on a private naturalist-led tour at Allen’s Pond Wildlife Sanctuary for your family or pod on Wednesdays through Saturdays through November 21. Each two-hour program will guide your group on an exploration around the sanctuary, taking part in hands-on investigations of plants and animals and discovering how to observe the interactions and life cycles of various habitats. Starting at $130 for a group of 5. See more here.
8. A Neighborhood Star
We’ve loved Alison Well’s art ever since we wrote a profile of her in our May 2017 issue (see the digital version here). So we were thrilled to learn that the New Bedford Whaling Museum is featuring her work in the Braithmayer Gallery. In the Neighborhood fuses the influences of her love for New Bedford along with her Caribbean culture to create unique and vibrant mixed media, large scale paintings in this series. Purchase timed tickets to the museum here. Enjoy Alison’s virtual talk about the exhibit here.
Even better, sign up to get our print issues delivered straight to your door. Just $19.95 gives you 4 issues with stories that make you feel good about the place you live, written and photographed by local talent.
Good news, everybody! October sees a resurgence of events — so many that we had to leave some really good ones on the chopping block. There are even a couple of South Coast Almanac events in here. Since we are shamelessly plugging a couple of our own events, we added a bonus. So this month you’re getting 9 Great Things for the price of 8 Great Things. 😉
We used to hate September because it meant the end of summer. Then we realized that September had all of the best things of summer (beautiful perfect beach days! fresh local produce!) without any of the bad parts (heat waves, crowds). And now we love September. Sometimes — especially these times –what we need is an attitude adjustment.
But we digress! We’re here to tell you our top picks for the month ahead: 8 things that will undoubtedly make your September that much better. A special shout out to Anne Whiting Real Estate for sponsoring this monthly roundup!
1. The Symphony is Bach!
Join the New Bedford Symphony for their opening concert for the 2020-21 season and the whole symphony will be performing with some great music, including Bach (get it? they’re bach!) Like all things, it’s a bit different this year. Purchase tickets (for just $10) and the symphony will email you a Youtube link to watch the concert along with your fellow music lovers. See more info about the Symphony here. BUT WAIT, there’s more! Buy a ticket, and South Coast Almanac will mail you a complimentary copy of our September issue. Because we’ve missed the symphony and we want to help welcome them back by encouraging more ticket sales! September 12, 7:30 pm. Buy tickets here.
2. Remember Festivals and Crowds
The Narrows Center is giving a welcome look-back to the festivals, feasts and parades of Fall River — splashy parades through downtown, communal events in city parks and neighborhoods, religious processions, or celebrations of cultural heritage. The Feasts and Festivals exhibition features about 250 photographs of the city’s feasts and festivals from the 1950s to the present, selected from the archives of Fall River’s Herald News and the work of anthropologist, Andrea Klimt. Settle in with a cup of tea, maximize your screen and enjoy the crowds! The gallery is right here.
3. Get Out There and Ride!
The South Coast Bikeway is holding its third annual Pedal for the Path ride this month — it’s a socially distanced casual ride with no registration fee. There are multiple options for mileage. Join to show your support for the completion of a bikeway connecting the entire South Coast, from Rhode Island to Cape Cod. September 13 from 9 to 3. See more here. To register, go here.
4. How Do You Like Them Apples?
Did someone say apples? This month, go pick your own at local farms. They usually are ready for harvesting starting in mid-September but check in with the individual farms to see when the season officially starts this year for them:
No, not chips & salsa! Put the chips & salsa down and join the Zeiterion Theater for three Wednesdays in September when they teach us to salsa virtually. The Afro-Cuban-based dance has influences from Puerto Rico, Colombia, and New York and is also the most requested dance styles in The Z’s Creative Classroom. Join them for three Wednesdays in September to learn Salsa (and work off some of those chips) over Zoom! 6 to 7 pm. September 16, 23 & 30. Pay what you can for the entire course. See here for more.
6. A Little Walkabout!
A new trail opening in coronavirus times is like a cool new restaurant/club opening in normal times. A new scene! Lots of buzz! This one lives up to the hype. The DNRT and Buzzards Bay Coalition acquired the Dike Creek Reserve last year to conserve the 128-acre Apponagansett Bay Farm. If you like boardwalks, bridges over creeks and a nice 2 mile hike (we do!), this is the place to go. Bakerville Road, Dartmouth. See more here.
7. Eat Local!
Farmer’s Markets are still going strong. Check a new one out this month and feel good about supporting local farmers and artisans. Click on the links to find out more about the individual markets. Sundays in Fairhaven, Swansea, and Carver. Mondays and Wednesdays in New Bedford; Fridays in Dartmouth. Saturdays in Swansea, Middleborough, and Westport. If we missed any, let us know by commenting below and we’ll get ’em up there! (Check out Coastal Foodshed to see how they’re making eating local easy by offering home delivery, and more!)
8. Light & Art
Good news: the New Bedford Art Museum is open again. They are partnering with DATMA’s summer programing Light: 2020 to present Pastoral Light is in conjunction with DATMA’s summer programming and features 19th century landscapes from the New Bedford Library’s collection. Through December 31. See more here. Note: You must purchase timed tickets to attend the exhibit right here.
We’re deep in summer, folks! Sitting at the beach, eating Twizzlers and wondering what to do this month. We know your usual go-to August traditions may be cancelled so we’re stepping in to give you some great alternatives. To paraphrase The Isley Brothers: if you can’t do the thing you love, love the thing you do.
They toss kindling atop a concrete slab, then stack a layer of logs, followed by a layer of smooth river stones. Logs, stones, logs, stones, until the pyre is about five feet high.
By 9 am, the pyre is glowing an array of oranges and reds. Smoke billows. The smell permeates. The wood turns ashy gray; most of it burns away. A heap of stones is left blistering, glowing like lava.
Men — many wearing old firemen’s jackets, masks, helmets, hoods, and heavy work boots with soles burned smooth from years of participating in this event— grab pitchforks and rakes.
They lift away stones, literally on fire, with pitchforks. I hear the sound of rolling rocks, the click of stone on stone, tumbling down to the ground. (Once burnt, the rocks can never be used again. So fresh rocks, 1.5 tons, I’m told, are donated each year by farmers and contractors.)
“If anybody’s got a mask, go to the other side!”
“Rake it out!”
“Let’s drag that last log out!”
“Somebody get a rake on this!”
They rake until the concrete slab is bare. Then they run hoe-like flat-edges across the baking concrete to clear the ash.
“Go, go, go, go, go!”
Scorched rocks are piled back on the concrete slab. The men dump some two tons of rockweed, gathered by the Friends at the same spot of the Westport River each year, from some 90 nylon grain bags onto the rock bed. It creates a thick fluffy mattress of seaweed.
I can smell it instantly — the intense tidal smell in my nose. The salt on fire.
Crates of clams are placed atop the bed of rockweed. As soon as they hit, I smell them cooking.
Then crates of fish, sausage, sweet potatoes, ears of corn, onions, and secret dressing in tin pans. Old canvas boat sails — which strikes me as particularly symbolic in this old Yankee fishing town of South Dartmouth — are heaved atop the mountain of food.
The sails closest to the food are soaked in water. Steam billows.
At 12:55 p.m., Bakemaster Troy Vincent tests the first clam, a searing hot bit of meat. He gives the OK.
The sails are lifted. Men use pitchforks to heave off rockweed. Men and women descend upon the pile to begin serving.
The Allen’s Neck Friends Meeting Annual Clambake, is celebrating its 130th year.
I know instantly that I am watching something special, something ritualistic, ancient.
* * *
Stan Stopka, a white-haired man with glasses, has been helping out at the clambake for a quarter century, doing “a little bit of everything.”
“I like the fact that I get to see friends I might only see once a year,” the Dartmouth resident tells me while pulling off the blackened overalls he used to break the fire to reveal khakis underneath.
“It’s my favorite day of the year. There are lots of people here I see only once a year,” Mike Harrison tells me, pitchfork in hand, standing by the fire remains with his kids, Levi and Piper.
“We’ve been bringing the kids since they were in carriers. I’ve been coming since I was a little kid. I love it,” says the Dartmouth resident. “It reminds me of my relatives who are no longer with me. It’s about the continuity, the learning passed down, generation to generation.”
His mother, Polly Harrison, 72, tells me she’s been attending the clambake for 70 years.
“I’m sure I got pushed here in a carriage,” she says with a laugh. “I love the camaraderie, the families that come here year after year over long distances.”
She arrives at the clambake with pies. They need at least 90, which come from various members of the Meeting. Nowadays, some pies might come from bakeries, but in the old days they were all hand-made, as was the brown bread, a staple of the clambake, though many “people nowadays think comes in cans,” as a few of the older women told me.
Lindelle O’Keefe, 75, of Dartmouth starts making the “secret dressing” three days before the bake. The recipe has been handed down through generations. I ask her if she can tell me what’s in it.
“Absolutely not,” she answers.
* * *
Peter Crysdale is the minister at the Allen’s Neck Meetinghouse. As Quakers don’t use titles, he’s known simply as Peter.
He tells me that this parcel of land — a grove at the corner of Allen’s Neck and Horseneck roads in South Dartmouth, with no exact GPS address — is used only one day a year: for this clambake.
He stands up on a picnic table to say a prayer, and some 625 people go silent.
Long rows of picnic tables — each row seats 88 or so — are numbered, and servers are assigned to each table. The head server oversees everything, and some have binders containing notes from years past, names of regulars, some dating back generations.
Kids deemed old enough to help out are “table runners,” running plates of food to the appropriate table, swiftly.
When the main course is done, runners quickly collect plates and “pie runners” — kids with what look like milk crates of pies strapped around their neck, like something out of the 1920s — walk the rows with pie slices, sitting on paper plates: blueberry, pumpkin, lemon meringue, key lime, chocolate.
“We’re like a well-oiled machine,” says Sarah Gifford Smith, who tells me she has been coming here since she was “a newborn.” Table 6 has been in her family for generations; the women in her family have been its head servers dating back to when the clambake started, she tells me.
In all, I’m told there are some 25 bushels of clams, a bushel of quahogs, 180 pounds of fish, 230 pounds of sausage, 75 dozen ears of corn, four bushels of sweet potatoes, 150 pounds of onions, 50 pounds of butter, some 90 pies, brown breads, 24 watermelons, and plenty of coffee, ice, water, jams, cream.
Dawn Tripp, of Westport, leads the First Day School at Allen’s Neck Friends Meeting. She motions to her 15-year- old son Jack, who worked as a runner: “He used to be one of the little boys running around, just playing. This year, he worked as a runner. When he’s older, he’ll shed the flip flops for work boots and be part of the laying of the stones, preparing the bake,” she says.
Kathy Neustadt, of Danbury, N.H., was a grad student studying folklore at the University of Pennsylvania in 1986 when she visited her aunt in Westport and attended her first Friends of Allen’s Neck Meeting Clambake.
“The experience blew me away. It’s a farmers’ ballet,” she tells me. “I said, ‘This is what I’m studying. I can do my dissertation on this.’”
And she did so in 1988, then expanded it into a university- press book in 1992, “Clambake: A History and Celebration of an American Tradition,” which she sold at the clambake for years afterward. Although this year, the copies are conspicuously absent.
“We come down just for this. We can’t miss it,” she tells me. “People here, when they take a new job, they write ‘Third Thursday in August’ as a day off… It’s so magical.”
Story by Lauren Daley. Photographs by Alexandria Mauck.
A version of this article appeared in our Summer 2017 print issue. Want to support stories likes this one by Lauren Daley and see more of Ali Mauck’s photographs in all their glory?
July, it’s nice to see you again! We’re starting to see calendars become useful again as activity starts to hum around the South Coast. We’ve got some great things to do outdoors or from the comfort of home on our 8 Great Things list this month. Stay healthy, stay safe, and enjoy the pleasures of summer this month.
Like clockwork, we like to get our 8 Great Things list out by the first of every month. But having watched the events of the last several weeks unfold, our monthly list seems unimportant. And for that reason, it’s June 3 and we’ve held back on releasing it. We’ve been thinking about how a publication that, by its very mission, is focused on the feel-good aspects of a region addresses the righteous anger and complexities arising out of the last weeks.
Let’s just put it right out there: we don’t know. But we’re talking about it. And we’re listening. If you have any ideas, please reach out in the comments or to [email protected]
In the meantime, here’s the list for you, in time to register for the first event on June 4.