Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Supporting Salem

Well, we never took the kids to the Cape or to Martha's Vineyard this year, even though we promised that this would be the summer. We finally sold our condo in August, which I thought would free up some cash for some travel, but Jason got "furloughed" the same week. I don't feel deprived. We are blessed. Especially in the autumn in New England. Every Halloween season we have the great city of Salem to visit. At least, that is what my mom did with me every fall. I thought it was about time I took my kids there. The kids had Monday off from school, and I decided, that was the day to go.

Going to Salem in the fall is a excellent way to support your local economy. And though some of it can be a little kitschy, especially along Essex Street, it is, over all, quite charming. The old architecture, wonky alleys, and coble stone streets are a nice change from the mall. My daughter remarked that it brought to her mind Patriot Place, and I told her that perhaps that is what the designers of Patriot Place were trying to achieve. Why not visit the original? She agreed the real deal, Salem, was far superior.

The first shop we visited was Aroma Sanctum on Central Street across from the Trolley Depot because we know the proprietress, Akuura Kulak. Years ago, Jason and I were in business with her when we called ourselves Medieval Outfitters. Akuura's passion was always fragrance though, so she made it happen. I'm impressed. I really like her stuff, too. I wear her "Forest Rain" and Sam, after smelling every blend in the shop, settled on "Vanilla X".

Avery, being nine, wanted to ride the tour trolley, and visit the Witch Museum. I had never done either of these, as they are too expensive in my opinion. But there is little else in Salem to hold the attention of a nine year old boy. So I rode the trolley with him, and Jason took him to the Museum. All Samantha wanted to do is shop, and wouldn't you know, there is a costume shop on Essex Street called "Samantha's". They have some mid-quality pirate clothes at reasonable prices. They also have a great selection of fishnet stockings, a few colors of striped tights and thigh highs, and every color wig. We almost bought Sam some pantyhose that makes the wearer look like her legs are tattooed all over. She went with black and purple thigh highs instead. And funky fairy wings. And purple hair spray... you get the idea.

I would have taken the kids to The Fool's Mansion on Essex, because (last time I was there, anyway) the costumes are hand made, and LARP appropriate, therefore very cool. But they are closed on Mondays. Fools. That may change in the month of October, but it might not. I took Avery to Crowhaven Corner, but he was completely unimpressed. Sam was with Jason at the time, and I never got her in to see the oldest witch shop in Salem. Oh well.

Our favorite shop, also on Essex, wasn't witch related at all. It is called Yarinas, but don't go looking for a sign. There isn't one. It is full of Indian clothes, some hand embroidered in Equador, and lots of inexpensive fair trade jewelry. You can see in the pictures to the right, Sam and me with Anna, the shopkeeper. Sam loves her new dress. (I like the red one hanging next to her in the picture, but it's up to her what she likes to wear.)

Before we left town we stopped on Front Street, and I took some pictures. I thought Front Street was totally charming. Notice the red line running along the sidewalk. I believe this is something like the Freedom Trail, only for Salem, obviously. Down the alley, off Derby Square, is the Lobster Shanty, where Jason bought a couple of mega size lobstah roll plattahs, at about 18 bucks each. I don't like such a repast myself, but Jason said that they were very good. They were piled high and hard to pick up, but that's a good thing, right? The fries were perfect.

My hope is that when my mother-in-law comes to see us for Halloween we will visit Salem again this season. There is still plenty that the kids didn't see, and Mimaug, as the kids call her, love taking them to art museums. All the times I have been to Salem I have never been the Peabody-Essex Museum. The PEM is also closed on Mondays, so we didn't go there, either. Halloween is Mimaug's favorite holiday with the kids, and she adores a day at the mueseum. We should have taken her to Salem years ago.

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