The Holiday Stroll 2015 – Part II

Mother Nature must have been making up for the big pile of poo she dumped on Boston earlier this year, but rain was not in the forecast for our Holiday Stroll. It was certainly not in the itinerary, nor in the planning for the weekend. (Clear skies had been predicted and I foolishly heeded the weather reports.) I had the wrong coat for rain, the wrong shoes for rain, the wrong fragrance for rain, and the wrong indoor-outdoor walking ratio for rain. And we only had one umbrella (the one stocked in the condo that did NOT go with my outfit in the least) to share. Have you ever tried sharing an umbrella while walking a decent distance? It sucks, and everybody ends up getting wet. Yet none of that mattered (ok, it mattered a little, but my complaints dwindled as we made our way along a wet walk that found the temperatures warm and the sights still filled with fall leaves and flowers).

Changing the itinerary yet again, we ducked into Pho Basil for an early lunch. A bit of warm sustenance for the dreary day would surely turn our spirits around, and it worked. Pho is a winter tradition for us now, and Kira and I eagerly filled out stomachs with the hot, spicy broth.

Umbrella unfurled above us, we walked down Newbury Street, stopping in shops to browse and look, and somehow avoiding the huge crowds that often accompany the high shopping season. Maybe the rain had its unintended benefits as well. We mostly just looked, but that was all right. Much of our shopping had already been done. The point of our stroll was not to buy, but to enjoy.

Even looking has its exhaustions, however, and after a couple of hours we needed a rest. After crossing to Boylston, I insisted on a break in the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental. Their floral display is always stellar, and their inviting lobby has a delicious fire perfect for a rainy December day. Sitting down, we surveyed the fire and the Christmas tree, and took a moment to just be still.

These are the moments that make our Holiday Stroll special. The little pockets of in-between time, when we don’t even talk or check our phones, when the day pauses in its hectic rush – these are what I treasure the most. Kira enjoys them too, never the first to reluctantly stand and take up the journey again.

Time ticks on, no matter how much we’d like to stay, but the rain was still in full effect. We braved Boylston a bit longer (I adore the Crate & Barrel there) then found shelter back in the Prudential. Usually we use it as a walking corridor when the weather is wild, but as the stores were decked out in holiday finery, we added it to the itinerary (which was already in tatters because we were not walking all the way to Downtown Crossing or Quincy Market as ambitiously outlined under clearer skies).

We were vaguely aware that the day was darkening, but we didn’t know the rain was slowing as well. By the time we re-emerged at the other end of Copley Place, it was dim but dry, and we crossed Dartmouth for a cocktail at the Fairmont.

There we sat and talked, amid a bevy of other holiday shoppers and merry-makers. A festive mood had come out of the rainy day after all, our holiday stroll intact in its own strange way, valiantly proving its spirit even as it realigned my precious itinerary.

We had dinner and then made the long walk back to the condo, pausing at a cozy little market so I could pick up some sweet potatoes for later that night. (Yes, there was a reason.)

After winding down relatively early (having been up way too late the previous evening) we settled in with a viewing of ‘The Man Who Came to Dinner’ – a tradition that we will keep intact because it’s such a good movie. I baked a couple of sweet potatoes in honor of the ice skating scene (where they are called ‘sweet hots’ (or is it ‘hot sweets’?) – both sound equally ridiculous) which turned out serviceable enough. They were done just as the appropriate scene came on, so we paused and munched on some late-night starch. The next day was a new part to our Holiday Stroll, and I wasn’t sure how it would go…

{To be continued…}

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