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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Boot-Scrape Hill

I took a walk through Beacon Hill the other weekend with a friend visiting from out of town. It's an area I don't know too much about. It's old, cobblestoned, and clearly very upscale these days, judging by the immaculate upkeep of the houses and streets. It was also the fictional neighborhood of TV's lawyer moppet Ally McBeal. But who lived there originally and what's gone on in the past 200 years I'll have to check out.

There seems to be a rivalry there over who has the most tasteful seasonal window box/sill display. Not a plastic ghost or fake pumpkin to be seen - all houses are adorned with exquisite restraint. A single bunch of Indian corn, a Martha-esque wreath of bittersweet, monochrome mum plantings, or artful gourd arrangements such as this one:


Often noted are the old iron boot scrapers next to some of the front steps:


These are pointed out as evidence of the neighborhood's period charm and elegance, but when you think about it, don't they instead indicate an era of considerably more muck than any Ally McBeal could imagine walking in today? Under how many circumstances would the contemporary Beacon Hiller have cause to scrape their boots before entering their pristine historic townhome? There must have been a lot to tramp through back in the horse-and-carriage days when those charming scrapers were installed.

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