If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence.

Maud Morgan, Gold Coast II, 1971-2, oil on canvas

Maud Morgan, Gold Coast II, 1971-2, oil on canvas

The birds are singing… even in the rain.  The front porch pots are brimming with pansies.  And, could things get any greener out there?  Must be May.  The season of graduations and weddings and barbecues…  and of course Mother’s Day.  Sunday, May 14th to be precise.  Instead of looking at the occasion as one more thing to add to your to-do list, we propose a re-frame – leaning on the wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh who suggested, “If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence.”  In this over booked season, why not seize the day as an opportunity to join your Mom for a joint gift?  To guide you, we’ve scouted out some experiences you can plot in a snap – outings which offer meaningful moments that go way beyond the drive-by gift card.  Some embrace the riches of the natural world in its New England peak and others have you covered in the event of rain.  Whichever the route, each experience sports a theme of throttling back, taking good care and sharing the gift of time spent together.

It could be argued that springtime is the best season for visiting the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum along the shore of Flint’s Pond in Lincoln, Massachusetts.  The beautifully landscaped lawns, forests, fields, gardens, and terraces on a rolling site which rim the Museum encompass some 30 acres. At any given time, approximately 60 sculptures are on display inviting visitors to linger, to wander the grounds, or even gather for a quiet picnic.  On view now through September 17th is Expanding Abstraction: New England Women Painters, 1950 to Now.  This exhibition, drawn primarily from the deCordova’s permanent collection, presents a vital yet lesser-known history of abstract painting in New England by showcasing the work of women painters with strong connections to the region. Featuring artists such as Natalie Alper, Yeffe Kimball, Jo Sandman and Maud Morgan (whose Gold Coast 11 is pictured above), Expanding Abstraction “reveals the complexities of painting in the region and lays the foundation for a more inclusive understanding of abstraction through the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.”  On Thursday, May 4, at 6:30 pm Dr. Deborah J. Johnson, Professor of Art History and Women’s Studies at Providence College, will explore the benefits and complexities of presenting exhibitions of all women artists with Made By a Woman: Gender and Its Relevance to the Arts.  For more information on this upcoming evening conversation or general museum details, visit www.decordova.org.

A wonderful new addition to the Greater Boston spa scene is Release Well Being Center in Westborough.  The brand new Center is truly a one-stop destination for holistic health.  This month, Release is extending special “treat your Mom and yourself” pricing which invites guests to indulge in any 60 minute Facial with a Collagen Mask Upgrade or a 60 minute massage followed by a glass of crisp prosecco (or mocktail) and some quiet time in Bliss at Release, where ancient earth, water and sun remedies meet cutting-edge environmental therapies for well-being of body and soul.  Guests are also invited to enjoy the Outdoor Hot Mineral Spa and Eucalyptus Steam Room at Release, or lunch at Nourish Cafe right on the  Center’s campus.  The Cafe’s menu is brimming with “honest food” -homemade offerings rich with organic, local, and seasonal ingredients.  A perfect finish to your day of exhale at Release!

Looking to make a weekend of your salute to Mom?  This weekend (May 5th and May 6th) the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge plays host to a boutique Relax and Refresh weekend.  Head west on the Pike, and breathe deep with yoga instructor/health & wellness coach Kat Whitney during a weekend of rejuvenation in the Berkshires. Saturday kicks off with a morning flow yoga class (beginners welcome) followed by a hike to Laurel Hill.  The weekend also sports lots of white space so that participants can explore historic Stockbridge or relax by the Inn’s heated pool.  A limited number of space remains.  For information and reservations, please call 413-298-5545.

Fenway Park has never looked better.  Not to mention that bullpen brimming with Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and then some.  As luck would have it, May 12th, 13th and 14th, the Sox face off against the Tampa Bay Rays right here at home.  Nothing like the mild pace of nine innings with the american past-time.  A perfect window in which to enjoy springtime in Boston and genuinely connect with Mom. Lots of great seats are still available.  Visit the Boston Red Sox website for tickets.

Miles between you and Mom?  There’s a wealth of fabulous online education that can be shared together, remotely.  One such example is the popular Awakening Joy class offered by author and meditation teacher James Baraz.  Based on time-tested principles drawn from Buddhist philosophy and wisdom, the course (offered annually) presents actual practices that open the heart as well as access aliveness and well-being.  As the course’s website reads, “The goal isn’t to just put a smile on your face, think positively and look on the bright side of life. True well-being needs skillful opening to all of experience including life’s difficulties.  The larger vision of Awakening Joy is that cultivating personal joy benefits everyone in our lives and produces a rippling effect of bringing more consciousness and well-being to the planet.”   Baraz is a co-founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA and is beloved for his translation of the Buddha’s teachings.  The gift could begin with a copy of Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness (Bantam 2010), the book which launched the course?  Together the two make for a wonderful slow release experience.

The 3,200 square foot Kitchen at the Boston Public Market offers year-round programming that encourages a passion for regionally sourced food and appeals to a diverse audience.  Since opening, the Kitchen has become a popular gathering place for all to share and learn about the healthy bounty of Massachusetts. In May the Kitchen is bursting with hands on educational opportunities which salute the season.  On Friday, May 5th experience, hands-on, the flavors of Egypt, Persian and India in a lively two hour evening guided by Chef Alexis.  Participants will  create an exciting multi-course meal based on seasonal, local food, and increase their comfort in the kitchen learning new knife skills, techniques, and flavor profiles. In addition to experiencing a new cooking style, guests will enjoy tastes of three local New England wines that pair perfectly with the evening’s recipes, courtesy of The Massachusetts Wine Shop.  And, on Sunday May 14th (the big day), learn to make truffles from start to finish. In this afternoon program, guests will be provided the ingredients for the chocolate ganache and will be expertly guided through the process of mixing and melting all ingredients together. And, while working, participants will sample local wines from the Massachusetts Wine Shop (and learn how to pair wines perfectly with chocolate) and enjoy cheese from Appleton Farms. Check out the Kitchen at Boston Public Market’s full line of educational and other programming on their website www.bostonpublicmarket.org.

So, there you have it.  We’ve done some of the work for you this spring.  Should none of these suggestions fancy you? There’s always yoga!  No excuse…  Go make your date with Mom!