Monday, March 9, 2009

For one brief shining moment....

The rare moment in the New England spring, when the sun and the temperature peak on the same day, brings everyone out into the open. Days like this are when I miss living in the city -- enough to carry myself there 2 days in a row to experience it.

Knowing it is still too muddy and snow-deep to hike, my only other desire on a 60 degree blue-sky day was to wander the streets until I was too tired to go anymore. When I lived in Boston, this was a regular occurence, since I had no car and no money and the best thing you could do to fill a Saturday was walk to the North End, buy a cannoli and walk back.

I did not know gritty 70s Boston -- I moved up after the Kevin White revitalization years, and the Massachusetts Miracle. 80s Boston was still an island to its own, though -- local establishments and insider tricks. Where The Limited coming to town was such a novelty it got a 4-story building at Faneuil Hall. (That building, I learned yesterday, is now an Abercrombie. So I guess thinks only change in proportion to their times.)

But of course the times have changed.

And now a trip to the city requires some planning, and a little more cash. Though I can still pass a day spending nothing but transportation fare (tolls + parking + T fare, so it ain't 85 cents, is what I am saying...). I decided to walk the new Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway - the $10B worth of grass they laid over the central artery.

I now live 35 miles from the city, and the decision to drive in or park-n-ride is based more on financial output than convenience or even stress. Now that the commuter parking is $7 and the T is $2 one way... one is not really saving time or money. After all, I know where the 10-hr meters are in Brookline, and on Sundays, they are free. So I drove in. So did everyone else.

On days like this, after the dark cold night of winter, Boston explodes into the streets. My ordinarily 1 hr drive became 2, but I had NPR on and the sun on my face. It was almost as good as hiking. The C line is notoriously slow -- I have run faster -- but I was "Livin' in My City" -- recalling years of afternoons spent just like this, with a lot less money and a lot more stress.

I got off at Govt Center because I like the approach from the brick summit down to Faneuil Hall. Ben Franklin stands there waiting for you to cross the street -- well, it's this guy, who will charge you for taking his picture. I wonder if he charged these people.

I charged into the thick of it -- through the Hall, through Quincy Market, and out the other side, where you used to be faced with a Frogger race to get to the North End. You deserved that cannoli.

Now you walk across the street. You just....walk. You look "both" ways, not 5 ways (including both a squat and a tiptoe). And you cross the street. It's the FUTURE.

My preferred North End stroll (with or without stops for cannolis). Columbus Park first, follow shoreline as best you can. Salem st. Weave in and out getting lost for a while. Hanover st to the end -- stop at the Peace Garden. get this: I found out over lunch that The Boss's grandfather built the Peace Garden. Well, of course he did. Awesome runs in the family.

Yell "Anthony" down Prince St. Oh, go ahead, everyone does it.

Find All Saints Way. This takes effort, so get some espresso beans to carry with you to find your way back. If you prefer more structure, and a guide, here is another opportunity.

Maybe next weekend. Today it snowed 3 inches. {sigh}


  1. It's funny you mention the Greenway. I recently took my daughter for a "day in Boston... Museum of Science, Aquarium, lunch in the North End. And the one thing she talks the MOST about is running around on that section of grass!

  2. One day during my junior year in college I walked all the way from Harvard Square to the North End and back due to having been dumped by a longtime g/f... I indeed picked up a cannoli at Mike's Pastry. There was nothing else to be done.


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