This article appeared in the May 12, 2006Jewish Advocate.
Springtime in Brookline: Warm-weather options abound
By Susie Davidson
Each year during the High Holidays, many Brookline residents are pleasantly surprised when they venture to the lush, positively bucolic Amory Pond to observe Taschlich. Their busy day-to-day existences can often preclude enjoyment of the natural surroundings that indeed exist in the town.
If there is ever a time to make the effort to discover them, spring is it. If you’re a T rider, get off the C or B line on Comm. Ave. or Beacon St. on either side of Amory and walk to the opposite line. You’ll find yourself in a woodsy area with a large playing field, a widespread park, lots of trees and wild bushes, and a rugged, unpaved sidewalk. In Brookline!
Same deal for South Brookline. Has anyone been down Warren Street, around the Olmstead Estate and Sargent Pond area? You’d swear you were in Vermont. Birds are chirping, landscape is pastoral, wildlife sightings are not uncommon.
Various paths cut through the town - in fact, there are 17 pedestrian-only footpaths in Brookline, all thoroughly researched in Linda Olson Pehlke’s 2001 book “Exploring the Paths of Brookline.” For a topographical map, check out Trails.com’s “Secret Stairways and Paths in Brookline.”
Playgrounds abound as well. Everybody knows the one at the Devotion School, where you watch kids while waiting in line to get into Zaftig’s. But how about the Daniel F. Ford on Waverly Road at Emerson Garden, the Mary E. Robinson at Cypress and Franklin Streets, the Coolidge on Columbia Street, the Jean Waldstein on Dean Road, the Amory back on Amory Street, the Daniel J. Warren on Eliot Street, or the Brookline Avenue Playgrounds?
Summit Avenue has Corey Hill Park; Addington Road has Lotta Bradburn Shick Park. There’s Griggs Park on Griggs Road, the Harry Downes Field on Jamaica Road, Larz Anderson Park on Newton Street and Winthrop Park on St. Paul Street. Things will be hopping before long at the weekly Wednesday night concerts at Emerson Park, and at the Soule Recreation Center on Hammond Street.
The town website advises care while enjoying the lovely, historic parks. According to the site, parkgoers are sharing the grounds with 57,000 citizens, 4,800 athletic team participants, school leagues and teams, neighbors and abutters, walkers, leaf peepers, sunbathers, bicyclists, readers and wildlife. As for canine frolickers, Brookline’s Off-Leash Pilot Program has gone into effect. A “Green Dog” sign is displayed in designated parks with stated hours, and the program is updated at the Town website.
While you’re around Zaftig’s, by the way, check out the fragrant and beauteous offerings at Zeeba Exotic Flowers at 297 Harvard St., or Albert’s of Brookline at 1392 Beacon St.
For those who long for environmentally greener pastures, the Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance, located nearby at 670 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain, oversees a Green Power Partnership program that advocates their New England GreenStartSM, New England WindSM and other clean energy options. Green energy communities and groups such as the Environmental League of Massachusetts, HealthLink and (MASSPIRG) promote environmentally-beneficial renewable energy programs to consumers as well as low-income households and other nonprofits.
On the same path is the Brookline Green Space Alliance. Based at 370 Washington St., the group recently sponsored an April 29 Lost Pond Area Cleanup, an April 30 Friends of Hall's Pond Community Work Day that spruced up the pond and adjacent Amory Woods, and a “Friends of Fairsted Tour of Olmsted's Picturesque Neighborhood.” The group also promotes many nature-filled activities such as early morning Bird Walks at Hall’s Pond, led by Fred Bouchard on many dates in May, as well as a lecture series on environmental topics held at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and fieldtrips that are free to the public.
The Brookline Arts Center at 86 Monmouth St. in the St. Mary’s area is currently featuring watercolors by Brookline residents Anita Jamieson and Phyllis Cohen. Entitled “Farmers’ Market: Watercolors for the Senses,” the exhibit runs through May 26 and will also be on view during the May 20-21 Brookline Artists Open Studios. Spring crops and local markets will be the theme at a free-of-charge May 12, 5:30 to 7 p.m. reception, which will feature print reproductions, notepads, aprons and canvas bags decorated with by the two artists.
“In this collection of work revolving around the subject of spring, with its fertility and first crop of early vegetables and flowers, you can watch these two artists influence each other,” said the Center’s Executive Director Susan Navarre.
The Town of Brookline was steps ahead of spring when it launched its “Brookline On The Move” initiative in April, with free classes at over 20 local fitness clubs, dance studios, yoga studios, martial art studios and town recreation resources. Town officials also led walks and classes as part of the continuing campaign, which aims to improve fitness in all Brookline residents.
Town Recreation Commissioner Bob Lynch says that this effort is only one aspect of Brookline’s springtime programming. "We are offering many activities this year, such as Picnic Areas at Larz Anderson Park and the Brookline Environmental Education’s First Annual Brookline Family Nature Scavenger Hunt,” he said. He noted that group is also offering two NEW he new, four-week summer sessions of Nature Explorations for Children. “Also, plan ahead now for our Flag Day festivities: parade, road race, and the June 18 carnival at Cypress St. Playground,” he said.
At the May 20 Scavenger Hunt, to be held at 2 p.m. at Dane Park, kids can search the park for natural items as they learn about the area’s natural history. At a May 6 Beginning Birders' Workshop, at Lost Pond Sanctuary from 10 a.m.-noon, participants will identify local birds by sight and sound, and learn about feeding guidelines as well as field guide and binocular use.
The Nature Explorations for Children, to be held at various parks, will teach children aged 2-5 about science and nature through crafts, stories, hikes and games, and allow them to explore local flowers, tress and animals.
On June 18, the town will celebrate Flag Day with the annual 10:30 a.m. 5k Road Race at Brookline High School, as well as an 8 a.m.-noon pancake breakfast in the BHS cafeteria, a 9 a.m. Children’s Parade around Cypress Field, a Children’s One Mile Fun Run, a noontime parade from JFK Crossing to Cypress Field, and the carnival, which will feature entertainment, games, children’s rides, food vendors and mural painting.
“Then finish off the spring experience with a round of golf at the Brookline Golf Club, located in Chestnut Hill,” advises Lynch.
For more information on Brookline town offerings, visit http://www.townofbrooklinemass.com/Recreation/ or call Brookline Recreation at 617-730-2069. For the Brookline Arts Center, visit www.brooklineartscenter.com. For the Brookline Green Space Alliance, visit brooklinegreenspace.org. For the Mass. Energy Consumers Alliance, click on www.massenergy.com.