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"When we moved to Massachusetts in the summer of 2009, we hoped to live next to water—but were well aware we might not be able to afford it. To our great delight, we ended up in a dream house, directly on water and near to a marsh, a river, and the ocean as well.
"Pam and I are thrilled to be able to share our good fortune with you." — Doug Lipman
Workshop Site: Doug and Pam's House
On the Pond is our House,
Near the Marsh, River, and Ocean…
in a classic New England sea-side Town
Our house is directly on Murdock's Pond (sometimes called Lewis Pond, even though there is another Lewis Pond a few hundred yards away).
The pond is fed by a fresh-water stream, but drains into the Macomber Marsh, which is tidal. Brackish water, I am told, is the most productive of life.
We have a 17' canoe and will be happy to take you for a quick spin of the pond in it. From the canoe, it's possible to see parts of the pond that aren't visible from our house.
As the seasons turn, we see many kinds of birds from our deck, such as egrets, geese, ducks, swans, and even a great blue heron. It's rare that an hour goes by without a "bird show" on the water.
Morning mist on the pond
Part of the pond, as seen from our deck.
An egret passing overhead. They love to gather on our neighbor's fallen tree branches, so we see dozens of them flying to and from the marsh.
Pam's favorite spot is the water-side hammock patio.
Canada geese just across the pond from our house.
Egrets passing our house. We didn't know they "flocked"!
One day, a pair of swans appeared. As of this writing, they're in their third week of residence.
We are fond of lily pads. These flowers haven't yet opened up for the day.
The swans are almost always within 15 feet of each other.
Our house is a newly renovated 1960's ranch house.
Workshops meet on the lower level (pond level). Part of our meeting room is shown to the right, with its brick fireplace and antique Davenport sofa. It also has French doors which open to the pond and plenty of room for a circle of up to a dozen or so chairs.
We'll eat breakfast and lunch on the upper level, which also has a view of the pond. The first piece of furniture we bought for our new home was a large round table that can seat up to 12 people easily.
For break-outs, there's a deck, a sitting room, and the living room/dining room, as well as Doug's office and the exercise room.
For overnight workshops, we can sleep 6–7 guests in comfort. Some guests sleep on regular beds, others sleep on comfy pull-out sofas, etc. Here are the rooms:
The Jane Room (yellow)
This is a small, private room with a full-sized bed and a small closet. Named after storyteller Jane Sullivan, who gave us amazing support as we searched for a house. Everyone should have a friend like Jane!
The Blue Room
A medium-sized room with two twin beds. This room has my favorite rug in the house, an Iranian rug with an unusual folk design.
The Sitting Room
Directly connected to the deck and the front door, this room converts quickly to a private bedroom, thanks to its closeable doors and its Ikea sofa-sleeper with a full-size mattress. (This is not one of those convertibles with a steel bar across it; this one is actually comfortable.) It's great to wake up and look out over the deck at the pond. Are you an early riser? It's a treat to take a book to read out on the deck before anyone else is astir.
The Meeting Room
At night, the meeting room transforms into a sleeping room. It sill has the French doors, the full fireplace, and direct access to the outside. There is no door separating it from the stairway, but the only traffic will be to the exercise room. Made in about 1910 and fully restored, the antique Davenport is a comfortable sleeper, with a full-size mattress. It was designed with a heavy-duty fold-up mechanism that never needed a back-killing, steel cross-bar. (Note: The bathrooms are one level up from this room and the Exercise room.)
The Exercise Room
Not a full room, but space enough for a full-sized, deluxe blow-up bed as well as a small desk and our eliptical exercise machine. Separated by a hallway (no door) from the Den. No one will be going past this room at night. Before you arrive, we may buy a folding screen to give even more privacy.
If you walk out our front door and turn left, in 1/2 block you'll see a sign that says, "Dead End." The sign is correct, but doesn't tell you that, before the road ends on Truant's Island, you can walk nearly a mile on a dirt road through the marsh.
Marshfield has lots of marshes—hence, its name. But, even though many marsh areas are visible from a road, very few have a road that runs through them—especially a 1-lane dirt road nearly on the same level as the water at high tide. The effect is of walking through the marsh. Very lovely, and so filled with plant life that the view seems to change daily.
Less that half a mile from our house is the end of Damons Point. This is where the North River nears its mouth at the ocean. Since the North River is designated as a National Scenic Waterway, much attention is paid to keeping the entire area unpolluted and conserved.
The end of Damons Point is actually the former site of a railroad bridge that once carried passengers from Boston to the Brant Rock community of Marshfield. You can see a terrific, interactive panoramic photo of Damons Point here.
Marshfield is definitely on the ocean. The town sports five beaches. It's so resort-ish in the summer that some folks nickname it "Marsh Vegas." But none of that takes away from the beauty of the seashore.
You can see the ocean from walks to Truant's Island and Damons Point. It's a five-minute drive to the nearest beach, Humarock (which is actually part of Scituate, even though no land connects Humarock to the rest of Scituate, thanks to the Portland Gale of 1897. But that's another story.) Or you can enjoy (like Pam and our Oklahoma friend Tara, in the picture) the dunes at Rexhame Beach, which is about a 10-minute drive.
Part Suburb, Part Agricultural
Marshfield is only 30 miles from downtown Boston. There is even a commuter rail in Marshfield's neighboring town, Scituate. Many residents commute to work in Boston.
At the same time, Marshfield was established in 1620, 10 years before Boston, so it has quite a history as an independent town. Many Marshfield residents seldom or never visit Boston. Along with new inhabitants like Pam and me, there are many here whose families have lived here for generations.
In August, Pam and I attended the Marshfield Fair. Our favorite day was 4H day. We saw children displaying and enjoying their relationships with animals and with growing things from the earth.
Our favorite event involved children and their animals dressed in complementary costumes. The winner in her age group was this girl, who dressed herself as a birthday girl and dressed her pony as a pinata. Very clever!
Lots of History
Daniel Webster lived the latter part of his life in Marshfield, devoting himself to assisting farmers to find best practices. I suggest the Wikipedia page on Marshfield's history as a starting point for more information.
Current famous residents include members of the rock band, Arrowsmith, and Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet (TV) fame.
Beyond Marshfield's borders, of course, is the vast field of Massachusetts history. On the near side of Boston is the JFK Memorial Library and Museum. Boston, of course, is famous for its Freedom Trail and other sites. Concord offers the "rude bridge" where the British took their first defeat during the U.S. war of independence. If you're coming from outside the New England area, you could fill as many days as you might like, in exploring the history, culture, and beauty of the area.
Pam's Church: North Community Church
We moved to Marshfield so that Pam could become the full-time minister at this community-oriented church. Founded in 1857, its building is so typically charming and New England-looking that passing couples often say, "Let's get married there!"
The parish hall is a former library, across the street from the church. That's where the sign is that, for her first month on the job, proclaimed, "Welcome Pam and Doug!" Lots of community events happen there.
Here you see Pam McGrath preaching at the annual outdoor service at North Community Church.
The Corner Cafe
|This terrific local gathering spot is probably too small for a whole workshop of storytellers to eat in as a group, but it's a shining example of Marshfield's small-town feel. Take note of the picture of the sign: you'll probably never see it in real life, because it's hidden behind flags and the like. But people seem to know how to get there, because "everybody" goes there—for the good, simple fare, and equally to chat with the neighbors.
Now you see it!
In real life, you just have to know where the Corner Cafe is.
One example of the local flavor of the Corner Cafe, that's of special interest to storytellers: when internationally know storyteller and local storytelling hero Jay O'Callahan 's picture book of his story Raspberries came out, the local radio station declared it "Raspberries Day," the town library gave a free concert and book signing by Jay, and the Corner Cafe had a display all day of Jay's new book, and served two flavors of raspberry muffins!
The display featured a placard describing Jay's show that evening at the Marshfield Library. There was also a picture of Jay and a copy of Jay's new book, Raspberries! which was illustrated by Will Moses, the great-grandson of the painter Grandma Moses.
Pam McGrath (my wife) and Jane Sullivan (namesake of the Jane Room in our house), hold up their raspberry muffins baked in honor of Raspberries Day (the day of publication of Jay O'Callahan's book, Raspberries!)
Raspberries! day display near the door of the Corner Cafe.
Marshfield Hills General Store
The town of Marshfield has been astir that the sweet, friendly Marshfield Hils General Store (a ten-minute walk from our house) was bought recently by TV- (The Office) and film- (Little Miss Sunshine) star Steve Carrell. Steve bought it for his sister-in-law to run.
The locals are actually glad for this buy-out, since the store serves an important function here: it's where children walk to buy candy or eat a summer ice-cream on the store's porch. Any store that mostly sells a highly limited supply of groceries plus a few gourmet and souvenir items is always in danger of closing. With Steve's infusion of cash, this community fixture not only seems likely to survive longer, but it has also received a much-needed face-lift and renovations. So it's looking better than ever, a few local jobs are more secure than before, and everyone involved seems pleased.
Pam and I Invite You…
It will be a great pleasure to open our house to you, as a workshop participant. We welcome your stories and hope their spirit will continue to enrich the feeling of our home.
I hope to see you there!
Yours in storytelling and creativity,
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This page was last updated October 9, 2009