We’re taking it easy today. All we did was go for a walk in the Arnold Arboretum, a 281-acre U.S. National Historic Landmark belonging to Harvard. It was created in 1872 from lands previously owned by whaling merchant James Arnold (1781-1868) and the estate of Benjamin Bussey (1757-1842), a prosperous Boston merchant and scientific farmer who had donated his property to Harvard “for instruction in agriculture, horticulture, and related subjects.” Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (1822-1903), the father of American landscape architecture, the Arboretum is the second largest “link” in the Emerald Necklace, a 7-mile chain of parks and waterways running from Boston Common to Franklin Park in Brookline.
At the top of Bussey Hill, I wondered what direction downtown Boston was from where we were standing, and whether we'd be able to see it. Being the geek that I am, I whipped out my phone and opened my Compass app. Sarah, being the boffin she is, wanted to test her own natural sense of direction. So she had me hold off on telling her which way was East, and she pointed out where she guessed the Charles River and Harvard would be, and downtown. I checked, and she turned out to be spot on.