The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 23, 2007


The Scenic Route Sudbury, Massachusetts

I have a good friend who was born on March 20, and every year, when I ask her what she would like to do for her birthday, she says the same thing, "Let's do Sudbury!" This little excursion has proven to be the perfect Saturday getaway without going far away, and it combines two of our favorite occupations — shopping and eating.

We start out in Concord Center and take Sudbury Road for a little over five-and-a-half miles, enjoying the rolling fields of Nashawtuc Country Club. When Sudbury Road ends, we turn left onto Concord Road. This takes us past Lincoln-Sudbury High School and through the lovely old town center of Sudbury, with its gracious old homes and an antique store or two. Just a short while out of the center, the road forks, and we take the left-hand fork and go to the set of streetlights. Straight ahead of us is our first destination: The Mill Village.

The old Grist Mill on Wayside Inn Road makes for a picturesque setting. (Photo by Penny Zezima)

Comprised of interesting little shops, Mill Village is the perfect place for friends to share some time browsing. Duck Soup is a mecca for cooks, with gadgets and gourmet goodies galore. My son particularly likes their selection of super-hot sauces, many of the bottles garbed like facsimiles of the Grim Reaper or Black Widow Spiders. Next door is Marjorie's, an upscale gift shop that will appeal to those who miss the late, lamented Marco Polo store in Concord. My girlfriend is a devotee of Simon Pearce's glassware and pottery, so we always spend some time mooning over their collection. By far, my favorite shop, however, one where I can spend an hour not just shopping but also chatting with its friendly owner, is Great Meadows Joinery. This store used to be in Concord, but Laura Harper bought it and moved it to Mill Village, and her charming taste suffuses the shop. It's always a treat to stop there.

Time for a leisurely lunch

By now, we are usually ready for a leisurely lunch, and here we have a whole host of choices, depending on our mood (and how much of an appetite we have worked up.) Right next to Great Meadows Joinery sits Sweet Pepper, a lovely Thai restaurant, with a soothing atmosphere and great food. For Chinese food with an elegant flair, we can leave Mill Village and turn left onto Route 20. Almost immediately on our right is the Lotus Blossom, a tempting place to sit and chat away the rest of the afternoon. If it is a birthday we're celebrating, however, we often will head for our favorite rendezvous — The Wayside Inn, which is 2.4 miles further along Route 20. The Inn, immortalized by Longfellow, still exudes its welcome with warm fires, a choice of rustic tavern dining or more elegant fare in the formal dining room, and good, comfort food. Nothing too fancy here, but everything is delicious and more than affordable. (A word to the wise: if you plan to eat at peak luncheon or dinner hours, make a reservation.)

A wooden sign hangs near the entrance to the Wayside Inn, listing the initials of former proprietors. (Photo by Penny Zezima)

Whenever we dine at the Inn, if the weather permits, we stroll down Wayside Inn Road to the site of the old schoolhouse that was the setting for the poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb." A short walk from here is the historic Grist Mill which, with its impressive working water wheel, sits in a small park. In the summer, we often see wedding parties having their photos taken here.

One last stop usually ends our Sudbury sojourn, and it's a fairly sentimental one, at that. Returning down Route 20, going east, we pass The Mill Village and almost immediately turn in next to a red clapboard building on our left. This is Bearly Read Books, one of the best used book stores in the area. It's a true trip back to the past to browse through these shelves. While my girlfriend looks to enhance her collection of feminist literature, I always find myself drawn to the children's section. Here I often find pristine editions of some of my children's favorite books, as well as old copies of young girl mysteries I suddenly remember reading in my youth. A set of Kay Tracey mysteries from the late 1930s bears the inscription: "This book belongs to Ellowene Pipkorn of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Given to her by her Aunt Mabel and Uncle Ralph." I love these little voices from the past, and these voices echo wherever you look at Bearly Read Books.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito