Today was one of those days that it’s just grand to be alive, ya know? Nothing special, just a beautiful, cloudless blue sky, a nice breeze and only 70 degrees…in August…in Boston. It was one of those days that feels like a gift sent from the universe to us and us alone for having lived through an unrelenting winter not fit for man nor beast. I’ve groused about that before, so I don’t need to do it again here. This post is all about appreciating the here and now.
It was the kind of day that actually made me excited to strap on my walkin’ shoes, plug in the earbuds, jam a hat on my head and hit the trail. Best of all, it was the kind of day that made me appreciate the beauty that is my neighborhood.
I live in an area called The Fenway (why yes, it is mere steps from the fabled ball park), part of a series of green spaces carved out of the urban landscape here in Boston and known as the “Emerald Necklace”*. The Fens in summer is lush and verdant with luxuriant patches of grass, an abundance of flora and even a few fauna (or geese anyway, as you can see in the pictures below). There’s a piece of the “Muddy River” that runs through the area and if you stand in the right spot, where the reeds are green and tall, it’s easy to imagine it two hundred, even three hundred or more years ago when the city was new.
I was not alone in my appreciation for my surroundings. Today was the kind of day that has city dwellers abandoning their apartments and condos in droves. Dogs of all shapes and sizes were petted and scritched behind the ears, their walkers sharing the sidewalks and paths with bicyclists, skateboarders and mere pedestrians, all of them happy to do so. The ball fields were full of all manner of teams, from high school football players drilling with volunteer coaches, to pick-up basketball and soccer players who will undoubtedly be back behind their desks and computers tomorrow morning.
What really made my walk today special, was rediscovering the Victory Gardens, many of which have been tended by members of the same families since they started growing vegetables during World War II. (The Kelleher Rose Garden actually goes back to 1930.) Today, there are still some plots with vegetables, and admittedly there are a few that look forlorn and neglected, but most of them have been given over to the artistic expression of the gardener. There are rock gardens, gardens bursting with wildflowers and gardens full of carefully tended rose bushes and miniature fruit trees. I was surprised by how many groups of tourists I saw weaving in and out of the narrow, wire-fenced rows. I live within shouting distance of this grandeur and yet I rarely take the time to look at it.
Walking home, I passed the usual hordes of baseball fans in their Red Sox regalia trekking in the opposite direction to their own version of Mecca. They all looked excited at the prospect of spending a summer evening under the stars and the lights (even if, judging from the team’s performance of late, they know they’ll most likely be wearing different expressions on the way back). I have no point to make other than sometimes, I really love where I live. And sometimes, it’s good to stop and smell the roses, literally, and just…appreciate. And isn’t that what Sundays are supposed to be for?
*A series of connected parks in Boston, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (who also designed Central Park in NYC, among other achievements). http://www.emeraldnecklace.org/