Fried Clams, Chardonnay and an F-ing Rainbow: Exploring the North Shore

It was time to leave the city. A slight coolness in the air coupled with the constant threat of drizzle kept bikinis and towels at bay, but M, M and I were headed on a little North Shore adventure, and a little rain couldn’t stop us. In fact, it was a quintessential New England day — unapologetically overcast, a bit dreary, but promising, nonetheless.

Lobster Traps. North Shore, MA.

Despite living in Somerville for a couple months now, I had yet to feel the rugged charm of the New England coast. It’s still summer afterall, and honestly, I couldn’t stand the wait anymore. Luckily, a friend suggested a little day-trip adventure to the North Shore (the “Nahth Shahr” — does that sound like a Boston accent when you say it? Well, SORRY, I tried…).

Boats. North Shore, MA.

The day would begin with a lovely ride out to Essex, where we would kick things off with the most New England-y summer-y thing I can think of: fried seafood, lobster, blueberry beer, and Chardonnay at Woodman’s — an old school North Shore restaurant that began with Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman’s fried clams in 1916. When we arrived, we pulled into a parking lot beside a little creek, where people quietly kayaked by, and the sky stayed safely on the brink of not-raining. As we rounded the entrance of the restaurant, my big plan to devour obscene amounts of fried seafood was quickly replaced with my summer bucket-list goal: lobstah. Tough life, I know.

Fried Seafood, Chardonnay, and Lobstah. Essex, MA.

I chose my little lobster, grabbed a bib, a dish of butter, and some packets of wet-wipes, and headed into the restaurant. It was only slightly after noon, but our plates were stacked high with lobster, onion rings, fried clams, fried shrimp, and fried lots-of-other-stuff I couldn’t exactly identify. It felt like we were in the restaurant of a ship, docked at the shore, eating amongst the North Shore’s LL Bean-clad locals as well as the ship’s staff. Sure, I didn’t feel like I looked the same, dressed the same, or ate the same way as the rest of ’em, but a plastic cup of chardonnay and a sip or two of Sea Dog’s Blueberry Wheat beer brought me back to the Bowdoin days in Brunswick, ME, where I always felt oddly at home. Maybe it’s my partially New England blood… Honestly, between the company, the food, and the in-your-face-New-Englandness of the place, I couldn’t have been happier.

Sitting by the Creek. Essex, MA.

Once you stuff your face with that much seafood, it is important to sit like a fat piece of lard on a wooden bench by a creek. So, that is what we did. The glow of summer’s first lobster, and of course the chardonnay, had me in a happy and light summery place. In fact, I was happy as… a clam. Har har. (GET IT?! Too obvious, huh?)

Steps. Rockport, MA.

The day continued with a trip to the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, which had a beautiful courtyard and exhibits that stuck to the theme of the day: you guessed it — The North Shore. If you’ve never gone to a museum slightly tipsy, you should try it. Just don’t touch anything… And try not to giggle too much. (Oops.)

Sculpture. Cape Ann Museum courtyard.

It was a matter of time before the sky gave in, and rain drops escorted us along our walk through the adorable coastal town of Rockport which, over a hundred years ago, was used primarily as a source of timber for ship building (as well as fishing, obviously), but is now bustling with strudel, fudge, bikini, jewelry, and pretty adorable one-of-a-kind ice cream shops.

Doggy in a Window. Rockport, MA.

It felt appropriate to be in my black, Gortex rain jacket as we strolled through the town, to a pier where we spent a good 45 minutes or so just savoring the sea, the boats, and the jagged rocks sprawled out beneath us like a bunch of still, bathing sealions.

Boats. Rockport Harbor. Rockport, MA.

The day was satisfying in a way that cannot be planned; good people, hearty local food, and the rugged mix of fishermen and wealthy New England vacationers swirled me into a North Shore swoon that took me as far away as I needed to be for the day, despite barely having gone anywhere.

Sun Setting in Rockport, MA.

Every now and then, when you travel (it could be near, it could be far), something happens that reminds you to appreciate the people you’re with, the day you’ve just had, and the moment you’re all in. Just when we thought a good day was ending, as we drove away from Rockport, we caught a quick glimpse of a rainbow springing out from behind a cemetery.

Yes. A fucking RAINBOW. So, M — our lovely driver and the mastermind behind this trip did something that I think most people wouldn’t do. Without discussing it, he made a very quick decision to pull over onto the side of the road, and stop the car. One by one, we got out, ran a bit carelessly across the road, stood beside the brick wall to the cemetery and looked at the large, beautiful rainbow that streamed mysteriously out from behind the trees.

Rainbow. Rockport, MA.

Sometimes, these things just happen; people click, places and timing click, everything stops. And when they do, you’ve just got to pull over and look at the f-ing rainbow that forms. Because it’s beautiful, isn’t it?

So, we did.

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6 Comments

Filed under Life Stuff, Massachusetts, Summer, Travel

6 responses to “Fried Clams, Chardonnay and an F-ing Rainbow: Exploring the North Shore

  1. K Elson

    I love all these stories about your new home! I also like the picture of the doggy in the window. 🙂

  2. susavel@earthlink.net

    What a lovely day! Made me feel like I wanted to spend a week in the New England shore. Maybe some day…

  3. Geordie

    Loved the entry, T! As a New Englander, it really resonated.

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