Friday, February 16, 2007
Taking the scenic route — to Groton
Come February, when the winter blues have you down, there is a remedy of sorts, just 14 miles away. Take Route 119 west to Groton, known to many as home to such prestigious private schools as Lawrence Academy and The Groton School. It is also home to some fine shopping and delicious dining.
If you have a craving to get out of the house, drive the short distance to Groton along one of my favorite roads, Route 119. I'm fond of it for many reasons, one being the great yarn shops I pass in Littleton (The World in Stitches, owned by a Carlisle resident no less, and The Woolpack). You will know you are getting close to Groton Center when you pass a picture-perfect farm on the right, featuring distinctive cows that the locals call "Belties." My kids have always called them "Oreo cows," because of the distinctive white belt around the middle of each brown cow.
Antique shops abound
Antique shops abound in Groton, anchored by the stately Jos. Kilbridge Antiques, housed in a gracious columned home. One could spend an entire afternoon just exploring the various antique shops, but that would leave no time to visit my favorite shop, NOA. Not to be confused with the NOA Art Gallery up the street, also well worth a visit, this NOA is an arts and crafts shop with a dazzling collection of jewelry, pottery, children's toys and other intriguing crafts, some created by Carlisle artists. This shop proved to be a welcome font of Christmas gifts for my various friends and family members last year.
If shopping leaves you feeling peckish, you have some wonderful choices. For a quick sandwich, there is the Main Street Café or the Natural Food Store, with its picnic tables on the main street. My favorite stop is at Filhos Cucina, a family-run eatery that lures you in simply by its aroma. Inside are bistro tables and a display case housing delectable salads and desserts. The menu embraces homemade soups, sandwiches on just-baked bread and the best Italian dinners I have ever tasted. You simply cannot go wrong, whatever you order at Filhos Cucina.
If you happen to be in town at dinnertime, try The Gibbet Hill Grill, which is just up the hill from the Center on Route 140. Set in a renovated cattle barn, the Grill sits on the edge of rolling pastureland. From the windows, you can watch cattle grazing. Inside, a large fieldstone fireplace warms the center of the restaurant and the barn's silo offers two large round rooms, which can be requested for larger parties. The delectable menu offers something for every taste, from fine steaks to sandwiches, salads and family favorites like meat loaf and shepherd's pie and, as the sun sets over the fields, you cannot beat the ambience.
A hiker's delight
If you are worried about how to work up an appetite (or work off the calories), Groton offers a many options for hiking. The town sits amid broad expanses of farmland and conservation land, and it has an active forestry program. To get a taste of rural Groton, drive along Route 119 west and veer left onto Route 111 south at the sign for Ayer (this turn comes just before Filhos Cucina.) Shortly, you will come to Route 225 West to West Groton. Turn right here and proceed .7 miles. Just after a small blue house on your left, you will see an innocuous driveway in the woods, also on your left. Turn into it and you have found Groton Place.
Once an estate owned by Frederic Dumaine, the 46 acres of wetlands, ponds, fields, woodlands and Nashua River frontage were left as a gift to the New England Forestry Foundation, as were the Sabine Woods adjacent to Groton Place. You enter the preserve through large iron gates held in place by brick pillars, topped with whimsical stone creatures. Along the trails you come upon more vestiges of the Dumaine family's love of animals. A massive stone horse trough stands before a plaque erected by Dumaine's daughter Betty, in tribute to the Groton Hunt. Further down the path, a circular stone bench faces the river, placed there in memory of Mr. Dumaine. If you stop here at this resting place, you will find the final resting place of "Pat Rooney — a noble, constant horse." A stone dog lies curled up nearby.
Groton Place offers lovely vistas wherever you walk. The paths are lined with pines and rhododendrons, which burst into bloom in the spring. The fields are a haven for cross-country skiers come the snowfall, and perfect for picnics in fine weather. A word of warning to the dog shy: this is a very dog-friendly place, or perhaps I should say friendly-dog place for, though all dogs are leashed, they still love to say hello.
If winter begins to wear on you, try a short getaway to Groton and discover some delights of your own.
© 2007 The Carlisle Mosquito