Austen and I left Lexington, Massachusetts for Portland, Maine at roughly 8:45am yesterday. The tree colors as we traveled north moved more to the orange-umber end of the scale, with an occasional shockingly white birch trunk sticking out like an exclamation mark amid the brittle-looking browns. We made it to Portland at about 11am and headed straight for the Eastern Promenade (Valerie's "nice day" suggestion). Sadly, the nice weather only lasted long enough for me to get Austen out of the car seat and into the stroller (i.e., about 5 minutes of serious whining and wiggling). The sun went in as we locked the car and pushed off toward Casco Bay, and no sun + freezing wind = only 15 minutes at the playground along the Prom.
From our spot on Congress Street we backtracked to Cumberland and the Portland Public Market (Valerie's "icky day" suggestion). I bought two bottles of Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale at the Maine Beer & Beverage Company stand and then continued around the market looking for lunch prospects. After a few loops, I settled on a potato-leek soup from Stone Soup (I think that's what it was called) to accompany my one remaining cinnamon-raisin peanut butter sandwich on Metropolitan Bakery sandwich wheat bread (I made three of them for the trip). The soup was a little thinner (and therefore drippier) than I like, but other than that it wasn't bad.
We did a few more loops around the market just for fun, and then we went out into the chilly-raw air of downtown Portland. Since buying the Pumpkin Ale had put me in a beer mood, and I don't think it's legal to drink beer in the open market, I had in mind searching for a good pub. I never did find one, but I did find some cool graffiti, the Portland Pirates' store and administrative offices (where I bought a t-shirt), and other random local color worth photographing. At around 1:30 we finally decided to get out of the cold and head to Valerie's house.
Once we'd located the keys Val had hidden for us and then determined which door of her duplex she lived behind, we went inside and were immediately greeted by Bonita, Val's cat. More doglike than catlike, I'd say, and obviously not familiar with the whisker-pulling, eye-poking, fur-ruffling ways of toddlers. Even when she had familiarized herself with these toddler techniques, however, she still seemed more inclined to hang around Austen than to run away. Doglike, I tell you.
Val came home from school at around 2:20, and we hung out and chatted until her violin students started showing up at 3:45. Austen was mesmerized by Val's pre-lesson warmups, which included stretching on the floor and playing a few scales and short songs on her violin.