Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Maddening March

It is no secret that March is my least favorite month.  I've written poetry, blogs and opinion pieces about this miserable 1/12 of the year.

March is cruel.  It teases and taunts you with longer days, brighter sunshine and hints of warmth.  The sun is at about 41.5 degrees above the horizon during the day...its rays just strong enough to brush your cheeks with a kiss of warmth...but powerless against the bitter cold running through the streets of the city...a meteorological middle finger from the North.

I bundle up...pull on my boots...and leash up the dog for our afternoon recreational constitutional.  She is as anxious as I to get out into the fresh air...to feel the imagined warm caress of the early spring sun.  As we trot up Bowdoin, past the State House, a slight sea breeze blows, nipping at the tips of my ears.  It is not enough to register a wind chill...but a chill registers nonetheless.  Reilly, lowers her head and steels herself to move through the concrete and brick wind tunnel, heading toward Beacon Street.

The sidewalks to this point are clean and clear with some slight puddling from the run-off of melting snow upon the State House lawn... the sad, sad, grimy, gray-green turf is still too weary from this winter's beating to even try to absorb the gift of solar rejuvenation...it is tired...it too, is sick of March.

The illusion of Spring has brought more and more groups protesting or informing about their cause or ideology.  They stand outside the wrought iron fence, huddling for warmth...their faces cover by scarves, muffling their words, their ideas.  Passersby are more determined than ever to keep their heads down and move quickly by...to keep warm or to skirt the issues under the cool guise of being too cold?

As we broach the corner of Beacon and Park, our destination...our refuge, The Common, lays before us.  We cross diagonally across the intersection and down the stairs into the park, the wind lessens significantly...not having tall buildings to channel the gusts into buffeting blows.  The sun feels warmer and the walkways are wetter.  Here we find more trash and dirt and yuck...the snow banks now barely a half a foot high are tinted with soot and grit. Park benches are still somewhat buried; they beckon for Bostonians to sit and lunch or read or chat...to raise one's countenance to the sun, eyes closed dreaming of warmer breezes and the sting of the sun...not the bite of the wind.  Alas...they are unreachable and unappealing among the icy remainder of winter's historic spewing.

Beyond the snow mounds are what will someday soon be grassy islands...now they are plots of mud and gunk...littered with paw prints from the park's denizens and visitors seeking renewal.  The squirrels are no worse for the wear...fat from gorging on tidbits found in the many trash bins.  The rats did not seem to fair as well...I counted three corpses among the snow banks...chalk that one up for the winter. Boston pups romp in the designated doggie parks...leaving deep impressions in the snow and mud... taking dirty souvenirs of their excursion home on their paws, coats and underbellies...to be bathed away in a near daily ritual of the season.

As we meandered up and down the crisscrossing paths, I noticed that much like Parisians, Bostonians prefer to wear black in the winter...occasionally,  a toddler might be sporting pink or blue...but many kids are wearing the darkness of winter as well.  I, on the other hand, have a bright magenta pea coat. With my rose colored shawl, draped chic-ly over my shoulders, I stand out like the proverbial sore thumb.  This is by design of course...people remember the lady with colorful coat and cute dog who promenades about Beacon Hill each day.  The Park Rangers at the State House and the police on the Common notice and say hello, heads nodding, implying...yeah, I know her...she's a regular.

When we reached the center of the Common...I experienced what I reckoned to be a "Schindler"s List" moment...there we were...me in my bright, deep pink coat...among the black and white of the cold, cruel month of March...the paths were faded gray...the snow mounds gray with dirt, dust and detritus...the puddles were dark with mud and the people, in every direction looked like dark shadows...and there I was, like the little girl in the red coat...alone in the monochrome of the landscape.

But then,  I looked up and saw the beauty of the bluest skies...nowhere else in my travels have the skies looked this blue...it is one of my favorite things about New England.  My eyes wandered to the trees...gray-brown limbs outstretched against the bright blue...and there at the tips of the branches, was a hint of yellowish green...and over there, the buds were deep purple-red...mimicking the hue of my coat...and unlike the ill-fated red coated girl in Schindler's List, I felt hope, because, in a week and a day, March would be but a memory.

We took a last turn about the Common and headed back up the stairs to wander among the brownstones and trip over the cobbles...I strained to feel the heat radiating from the city's iconic bricks...but not yet...March still grips the city.

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