Sunday, December 16, 2007

What I Did on My Summer Vacation - Part 1

No better time to dream of summer than when your driveway is full of slush and your shoulder blades feel the curse of the shovel. While not exactly a "vacation," my adventures in the city with Boston By Foot this summer gave me much joy.

I became a docent this spring after taking a six-Saturday course and passing a written exam. Oh yeah, and going on a bunch of tours. In an "Enchanted" version of summer in Boston, nearly every tour I gave or attended was on a gorgeous, warm, sunny day. Of course, one of the very first I volunteered to shadow simply didn't happen because no one with kids was foolhardy enough to wade through Boston By Little Feet in rain that had me looking for animals boarding a Duck Tour in pairs; and a beautiful, crisp fall day in early September was met with shivers by a family unprepared for the drop in temps from the previous day's 80+ experience.
I really enjoyed giving the Heart of the Freedom Trail and Little Feet tours - essentially the same buildings with a different style of interpretation/focus for the different audiences. Going inside of King's Chapel was one of my learning experiences. I owe my fellow docents such gratitude for teaching me not only the facts, but their favorite stories and ways to capture the imaginations of both children and adults. I received high praise on one of my last HFT tours this season, with a group of German high school students. The teacher with my group turned to me after I delivered my most animated portrayal of the Boston Tea Party, saying that every German schoolchild learns about this event, but these students are privileged to hear this story from you! You brought it to life! In turn, I was humbled by the notion that German schoolchildren learn anything at all about Boston (for contrast, how much were we taught about any German city other than maybe Berlin post-WWII?).

I also loved being "support" for some of the special tours this year: "Footloose on the Freedom Trail" on the 4th of July, "Bells, Bridges and Locks" during HarborFest in July, "Big Foot - Back Bay" on Labor Day, and "Beacon Hill with a Boo" on Halloween night (yes, it was warm, and we had sunlight until after 6 p.m.!). Perhaps my most daring adventure was showing up in Dock Square (you know, in front of Faneuil Hall) dressed as a pirate a la Jack Sparrow to sell Captain Kidd Treasure Hunt kits to HarborFest celebrators. The reaction I got from tourists ranged from "avoid eye contact and maybe she won't drool on you" to outright Ahoy Thar's and Arrrrrr's. On my way back to the public restrooms to change back into Clark Kent, a gigantic man, a vendor at a Harley-Davidson pushcart (that's authentic Faneuil Hall for you) looked down as I passed by and said "Yer a little buccaneer, ahn't you?" I just gave him my nicest "Aye" and disappeared quick.

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