Hidden Respites in Boston

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Today I may be plunging into the crowded cesspool of a baseball game in Fenway Park, but last weekend I spent a quiet day of shopping with Kira, and these memories are what I’ll be accessing in the midst of all the hot dogs and beer. Most cities are filled with hidden spaces of peace and beauty, slightly off the beaten path, or simply unknown, unrecognized, or unvisited by the masses. I always wanted to write a story on these secret niches in the midst of all the madness, but I didn’t want to give them all away. For now, a glimpse.

Hat-shopping for me ended up with shoe-shopping for Kira, a strange and unaccustomed turn of events that equally thrilled and annoyed me. Shopping should be a joy and a luxury, not a task, so I turned my bad attitude around and joined in the fun. By noon we were both tired and hot and in need of refreshment, so we stopped at a waterfront restaurant, where we sat in the shade and had a touristy lunch, enjoying the breeze off the harbor. We had our very own ‘Death in Venice’ moment watching the shirtless guys kick a soccer ball around in a nearby park. Kira toyed with the idea of joining them for a bit, but chickened out. Even with a new hairstyle, she will only do so much.

Replenished and refreshed, we made our way back toward the condo, stopping at Lord & Taylor in a last-ditch effort to find a hat, which we eventually did. Nearby, the Prudential Center offered one of those semi-secret courtyards that only one or two people at a time seem to enjoy. We ducked into it, and entered a sanctuary of verdant beauty.

The sweet scent of a pair of fringe trees (Chionanthus) – a favorite of Thomas Jefferson (he planted them liberally around Monticello) – greeted our entrance into the shaded place. We paused, inhaling their delicious aroma, and I recalled another fringe tree I’d sniffed with Kira. The fragrance signifies summer for me.

Flowering plants bloomed in large groups, in the lightest whites and the palest pinks, and the city, as most of us think of it, felt suddenly removed and far away. Kira and I paused there, stilling time as best as we could, but eventually we walked onward, returning to Braddock Park, and the time of the day when the sun was coming in through the bedroom.

We unloaded our goods, and tried on a few items, having fun with this brief siesta. We eased into the five o’clock hour, slouching into the same chairs where we began the day, and briefly looked back on our adventures. Kira had to catch a train, and I wanted to retire early for the morning drive home. When next we meet it will officially be summer. This was a perfect sneak-peek.

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