My Favorite Places, New England

Buttonwood Park, City Oasis

It’s already hot in Florida. Stifling, actually.

Elsewhere in the US, record amounts of snow and low winter temps have others longing for the warmer air of spring. For me, it’s the cool crisp air I miss. The freshness that comes with the melting of the snow and the thawing of the ground. I miss spring on the Massachusetts SouthCoast.

I miss Buttonwood Park.

Designed in the 1890’s by Charles Eliot, the 97-acre city park is a refuge for animals and humans alike and boasts a 7-acre pond accessible to the main road, where one can pull off and feed the ducks as their whim may fancy. The pond’s little island in the center has shrunken to almost nothing over the years. Paddle boaters still circle it in the summer. A greenhouse is situated across the access road and hidden behind it is a smaller pond, covered in lily pads when the weather is favorable. Across the way, children play on the playground, and from the slides you can peek in the zoo for a complete view of the elephant habitat, where Emily and Ruth delight children of all ages. Trails for walking, jogging, and biking wind their way through the grounds. The expansive grassy lawn hosts a variety events from formal athletic events to festivals to family picnics, and are dotted with elm, sycamore, and sweetgum trees.

KK N buttonwwod

Once I could drive, I’d often park my car at the boathouse by the large pond and wander over to the lily pad pond behind the greenhouse with a book, homework, notebook, or sketchpad. This pond is actually a brook that flows to Apponagansett Bay in Dartmouth, which leads to Buzzards Bay in Cape Cod. Wildflowers perfume the air and the sounds of the nature and wildlife around me transported me out of the city and I could imagine I was in L.M. Montgomery’s world of Avonlea, content to relax and create by the Lake O’ Shining Waters.

Lily Pad pond

It’s been several years since I’ve been back, and my heart longs for the tranquility the park offers. In Love on the Edge, Lanie tells Matt about her happy place, a park with a zoo and elephants that is remarkably reminiscent of my Buttonwood. It’s where she learns to go in her mind when her PTSD is crippling her with fear and anxiety.


I can relate. There’s no other place like it.

Emily Ruth closeup

“Known as the “crown jewel” of New Bedford’s park system, Buttonwood Park is an oasis of nature and outdoor recreation conveniently located in the city’s West End. This family-friendly park provides a lovely natural setting where you can walk, bike, and spend time outside with friends and family.” Source: 



My Favorite Places, New England

Inspiration from Downeast, Maine

New England stole a piece of my heart, and the coastal regions especially call to me when the steaming, landlocked heat of Orlando becomes unbearable. In those moments, I long for a cool ocean breeze on a chilly summer night, the sound of ocean waves lapping again rocks, the crispness of a dark fall evening, the smell of the first frost, and first blooms of spring. To experience it soothes my soul, and to be without it causes my heart to yearn.

My husband is a native Floridian and jumps at every chance to escape the heat, even if it means a day at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, tubing down gentle hills, or shopping the Kittery outlets. We’ve been to North Conway more times than I can count. He has driven through a blizzard, navigated the Kangamangus like a pro, and proposed to me on a snow-capped mountain in Jackson, New Hampshire.

It was on one of these trips we spent some time in York Beach and Bar Harbor. We had a blast at the Nubble Light, hopping from rock to rock with our little girl. We drove the coast, and I spotted the prettiest rose-colored dream house up on the cliff atop the peninsula that jutted out from York Beach. It captivated me so much, I made him drive by it so I could take pictures. I wondered who had built it and who lived there now.


Over the years, I google-stalked it, and noticed it was having renovations. Photos of construction materials and a portapotty intrigued me. What could they be doing? Repairing the roof? Gutting it to upgrade? My imagination got a little carried away. I knew this house had a story, and since I didn’t know it, years later I decided to make one up. It became the home of the fictional Kat Daniels of Crane’s Cove, heroine of Love on the Rocks, left to her by her great aunt Katherine. To find out more, you’ll have to read the story…and the next one. i have big plans for Kat’s big, empty creepy house on the cliff.’

Kat House



“There is such a place as fairyland – but only children can find the way to it.
And they do not know that it is fairyland until they have grown so old that they forget the way. One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it,
they realize what they have lost; and that is the tragedy of life.
On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them and the age of gold is over. Henceforth they must dwell in the common light of common day. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again;
and blessed are they above mortals.
They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles.
The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and story-tellers;
but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.”
― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl