I admit that before moving here, my husband and I were down on Salem. We were both from neighboring cities (Peabody and Beverly), and we just didn't see the charm of the Witch City. We found a great house and it was a very good deal. We decided to move to Halloweentown and see how it went. I am so thankful that we decided to start our family here in Salem. It fits in with our philosophy on family, which includes getting outside, seeking cultural activities, shopping locally, and walking to as many places as we can.
I was lucky to have a Springtime baby. There's nothing like getting off the couch and getting outside to help with the new baby blues. It was our first Summer here that we began to appreciate the beauty of Salem in bloom and how ideal it is for young families. The green spaces are plenty in Salem and for an Earth Mumma like me, I can't get enough of the outdoors. There are many spots that can feel like your own private paradise: The gardens of the Crowninshield Bentley House provide a nice little cut through and the cherry trees provide a sour treat in Summer. The gardens at other historic homes also owned by the Peabody Essex Museum also can provide a green and shady respite 3 out of 4 seasons. One of my favorite places to be in Salem is the Common. There are great people watching and kids and grownups playing sports or practicing juggling. There's all manner of dog watching as well. My grandfather was born on the Common in a tent during the Great Salem Fire. There's history and beauty all around us.
What I really love about exploring this city is the people you meet. I have made lots of really good mom friends just by being out and about in Salem. Once I bump into a mom, I give her one of my "Mumma Cards." It's a business card I had printed up for free by Vistaprint with my name, my son's, my cell phone, my website, and my email. It's been a great tool for setting up play dates and meeting other moms for walks. It's also a great way to present myself at businesses I frequent (and a card to drop in those fishbowl contests for free lunch). When you buy at local businesses you are helping shape your community. That's why we try to pop into the places that best serve our family's needs. We love Milk & Honey, Roost and The Beehive , and of course Mud Puddle Toys and Maria's Sweet Somethings. It feels good to get a hello from the owners of these businesses when I walk in. It feels good to be a part of the community.
In terms of culture, you just can't beat Salem. The history of our port town is obvious, but there is other magic afoot. The Salem Farmers' Market is a wonderful weekly activity that we always look forward to, not just for the produce, but also to talk with vendors, and to meet up with other Salem moms. Sometimes we get swayed away from the market by an impromptu drum circle at Mamadou Diop's Baobab Space and do a little dancing. Family events at the PEM are often free to Salem residents; the Wednesday story hour is especially awesome. Salem's website has a cultural calendar that is always being updated, and I also try to follow Salem businesses and the Chamber of Commerce on facebook for updates on what events are happening on weekends.
The more miles I put on the stroller, the more pleased I am with our choice to put down roots in this city of peace. Sure, there are imperfections like the never-ending construction on Bridge Street, the Dominion Coal Plant spoiling the view at Collins Cove Beach, the occasional report of a car break in, or tourist traffic. For our family, the pros far outweigh the cons here in Salem. This is definitely a city with modernity sprouting up among the hundreds year old monuments to trade and early American prosperity. It's a great fit for a family starting out who wants to be a part of their community by both giving and receiving.
And the dreaded October? Boy, were we wrong! A month of something free and fun to do all of the time? An opportunity for our son to wear his Halloween costume 10 or 15 times? The best people watching in the world? Yes, sign me up for all of that too.
We love it here.