Back in the grey skies

Though grey skies took the place of sparkling blue skies, and there was a nip- in the air, there were no billboards on the highway exclaiming ” Bob won us $3.2 million despite our car accident!” nor advertisements for the world’s best key lime pie, chicken-fried steak or cheese grits.

We were back in Massachusetts after two months in Florida, We were well aware that the winter of 2022/23 had hardly occurred in southeastern Massachusetts: there were no snowstorms during the months we were away. There was no snow or ice on the ground when we returned. Friends had played pickle ball outside, tennis and bicycled throughout the winter months.

Though seventy-five degrees with no humidity in southern Floria was still easy to enjoy even though Massachusetts hardly had a snowy cold winter. We escaped the cold that never came, or hardly ever did

Like most of the state, southeastern Massachusetts where we live is ethnically, racially, linguistically, and religiously diverse. However, Portuguese-speakers are especially well represented in this area due to a pattern of immigration that began in the 19th century and was tied to the whaling industry. Today many people in this part of Massachusetts, most notability Bristol County, trace their ancestry to mainland Portugal and the Azores.

A few years back, before Covid, my wife and I flew to Portugal for a vacation but stopped for a few days in the Azores. (The Azores are about 2500 miles from Boston). The Azores are known for whale watching and excellent snorkeling and diving. Biking or hiking around some of the villages, hills, cliffs and beaches is the best way to explore. Speaking of beaches, there are plenty of them on the nine different islands. Aside from the biking and hiking, we found there’s not a lot to do. There’s no national effort to commercialize the main island so as to build up its attractions and draw tourists to them. On our short stay in the Azores, we missed our bus excursion connection one day, and ended up being chauffeured around the island with a cab driver who was looking for some tourists’ fares. He spoke pretty good English, was good natured and became our personal chauffeur-tour guide. He may have made up the stories that he shared with us, but we wouldn’t have known if they were true or false. He was personable and comical. He stopped wherever we wanted to stop, took us to his favorite coffee shop, and he told us about his family as well. He asked us if we knew Elvis. We could have told all kind of stories too but he was so nice, we didn’t have the heart to make anything up,

The Azores is for those who like being outdoors in nature that has not changed over the years. That’s the same for southeastern Massachusetts except our landscape is less natural and unspoiled than the Azores.

The natural beauty that is still plentiful in Massachusetts beckons me; there’s a variety of nature in close proximity like beaches, and hills to climb. There’s the balance of conservation, outside recreation and sustainable forestry. And then there’s the four seasons, except because of climate change and too much carbon dioxide gas in the air, the seasons don’t occur like they’re supposed to.

Being in nature is energizing, makes one feel alive. Being in the outdoors and physically active makes New England New England, One has to be hardy to live our weather and want to come back to it. Massachusetts is a pretty small state, and while I can explore parts of Massachusetts that I’ve never seen or walked in, I won’t be the first to climb a hill or go swimming in Marblehead or biking on the Cape Cod Canal. Massachusetts’ outdoors is well-traveled with its residents and tourists alike.

To go along with all the outdoorsy nature, there are really enjoyable sports teams one gets to root for: our Boston Red Sox with its Green Monster, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins too. Win or loss, our sports teams have historically been amongst the best, often winning their league championship. Come springtime, a day doesn’t go by when I don’t check the box score for the Sox or watch a few innings to enjoy the game. With new rules in play in 2023 to speed up the game, this will be an exciting season for our Sox. I’m hoping they will end up out of the cellar and beat the Yankees more times than they lose. I’m not counting on it, but it would be grand. Every year I take pleasure in saying that the Yankees Suck )(though in reality it’s the BoSox who usually do).

When I think of Massachusetts, I think too of how I really like the winds, There are all kind of wind around me: gusts, breezes, wispy wind and a steady blowing wind, the kind that knocks your hat off. I like watching the effect of the wind too: smoke blowing, flags flapping, people chilled and hunched over trying to stay warm. Wind occurs due to changes in air pressure. There’s always some kind of wind that’s blowing.

But now I’m going to contradict myself: I don’t like to sit when the wind blows sand while at the beach.

One other thing I like about Massachusetts is its history and influential people. There’s something about Massachusetts that breeds philosophers, statesmen and naturalists like John Quincy Adam, Thoreau, John F. and Robert F. Kennedy. There seems to be something special in the air or in the streams and ponds that breed remarkable leaders coming from Massachusetts. I’m as proud of these notable individuals that hail from Massachusetts as I’m proud of being born, raised and lived in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is home for me. There’s a lot to be part of and proud of, and to do to improve our lot in life.

Photo by Life Of Pix on

Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

2 thoughts on “Back in the grey skies

  1. Dear Richard,

    I have finally got time to check my e-mail and was thrilled to hear from you. It sounds like you had a marvelous time, which you sorely needed.

    Did the beaches that you went to have warm water and big waves? We went to a beach like that when I was in Florida a couple years ago and it was the highlight of my vacation. I was teaching the kids with us how to body surf. I just loved it, I spent virtually the whole day in the ocean.

    It’s interesting that you were talking about the Portuguese. When I was in college, in North Dartmouth, which is near both New Bedford and Fall River, there was a huge Portuguese population. I learned to love their food and hospitality. We were always welcome to their homes (where they fed us)!

    You were greatly missed at groups and everyone is so glad to have you back where you belong!



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