A Not-So-Quiet Morning in the Public Garden

Print this entry

Swan boatsBOSTON — I woke even earlier than usual each morning during this sojourn to our favorite city in the summer. The time difference likely was the culprit. My body thought it was 6 a.m., my usual time to rise. So I was usually out the door of the Beacon Hill apartment we rented by 5:30. My Beautiful Mystery Companion and daughter Abbie never stirred. They slept under portable fans to drown out the street noise. It felt like sleeping in a wind tunnel but worked. Our heads were at curb-level in this basement abode in a five-story brownstone, secured on AirBnb. It was strange to look out the windows and see people’s ankles as they walked by.

I headed to the Starbucks on Charles Street and bought a cup of coffee. Just coffee, nothing fancy. Then I strolled down to the Boston Public Garden to sit on a bench, sip the coffee and watch people.

The public garden is the younger next-door neighbor of Boston Common. The Common was founded in 1634 and was a grazing spot for residents’ cows for the first two centuries. The Central Burying Ground holds the remains of Gilbert Stuart, among others. He is best known as George Washington’s portraitist. The Common also contains baseball fields and the famed Frog Pond, a knee-high wading pool in the summer and ice-skating rink in the winter.

I prefer the public garden, built in 1837. It is less crowded, more shady and filled with flowers that bloom with a brilliance made possible by cooler temperatures and a far-shorter growing season. The garden is adorned with statues of Revolutionary and Civil War heroes. There’s Charles Sumner, a key leader of the antislavery forces and longtime U.S. Senator who was attacked with a cane on the Senate floor by an unhappy congressman. Here’s Tadeusz Kosciusko, a Polish warrior who brought a contingent from Europe to help the revolutionaries. In the center of the garden, a mammoth statue of George Washington sits astride his steed. On this morning, a half moon peeked out from over his left shoulder.

The garden in the early morning is popular with joggers, most pulling sleepy dogs along with them. Elderly Chinese men and women practice tai chi under the canopy of centuries-old oaks. A homeless man is curled up on a bench under a white sheet. A flock of ducks and a few geese line the banks of the garden’s lagoon. It is a small lake, really, with a pedestrian bridge spanning it. I walk to the center of the bridge to take a photo of the famed swan boats. Young men and women work summer jobs building up their legs by pedaling tourists about the pond in the boats. The Paget family has operated this concession since 1877.

Boston, of course, is steeped in history. Eighteenth-century churches butt up against glassed skyscrapers, the ancient and modern coexisting more or less peacefully. It pleases me this park is still used nearly 200 years after its founding. Along nearby streets are churches from that approximate era as well. The Church of the Covenant was built in 1865. The Old South Church arrived 10 years later. Trinity Church, completed in 1877, is reflected in the façade of the John Hancock Tower. At 60 stories, the tower is the tallest building in New England. (This might come as a surprise to Southerners, but New York City is not in New England. New England is comprised of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.)

From the garden, I can see the spires of a few of these churches. I enjoy the relative quiet, though it is never completely quiet in Beantown, at least the parts we frequent. Drivers here use their horn far more often than in the South, where prolonged use could lead to road rage. Up north, the horn is a vital accessory to driving, to be leaned on heavily at the slightest provocation. Two cars start honking at each other in an ascending crescendo that would likely lead to gunfire in Texas. A fellow walking down the footpath shouts out, “Shaddup awready! Cheesus!” I love that accent.

I drain my coffee and head back to Starbucks to buy an extra-hot latte for my BMC. It is time to embark on the next adventure in a city filled with interesting places.

Print this entry

Leave a reply

Fields marked with * are required