Strolling Boston's Freedom Trail, I wondered "Is everyone here a tourist." I thought I heard Chinese, Spanish, and Dutch, all spoken quickly as sightseers and I passed each other on the trail. Perhaps folks who work in downtown Boston already know their city so well, they have no need to walk the Trail's thin granite line along the city's red brick lanes.
However, I was interested in the Trail, for two reasons. First, I wanted to see where Benjamin Franklin was born. Second, it was a trip down memory lane.
Franklin was born between the Old South Meeting House and the Old Corner Bookstore. That location echoed his reputation as a publisher. There's a landmark to him, just steps off the Freedom Trail. It's wasy to miss. Franklin's birthplace is marked by a small white bust of him, and that's the only thing surviving. The original building where Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was born burned down in 1810.
I walked on. Strolling the Trail, A distant memory of my brother and I at the Kings Chapel Burial Ground entered my mind, as we'd walked the Trail twenty years ago. Many notable folks are buried there, such as John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts. However, the person I recognized, reading the plaque, was Mary Chilton. Here headstone inspired the grave of Esther Prim in The Scarlet Letter: Mary Chilton Winslow. At 13, she crossed the Atlantic in the Mayflower. She was so excited to see land, legend has it, she leaped out of the landing boat onto Plymouth Rock. My middle name is Winslow, and I recall my brother saying I was named for her.
Strolling up State, to Court, ahead of me the Boston Common beckoned.
On my way to the Public Garden, in the Boston Common, I stopped in the Central Burying Ground off Boylston Street, founded in 1756. There, I searched in vain for Gilbert Stuart's grave, and instead happened on a headstone marking the mass grave burial of people whose bodies were uncovered when the Tremont Street subway was constructed in 1895. I walked on.
"I'm hungry," said the whale.
"It's lunchtime," said the whale.
"Don't get too close, you'll scare the fish," said the whale.
We listened. We watched. The whale leaped skyward. She closed her mouth. Gulp!
She sank back into the blue. Minutes were hours.
Gulls flew. We watched.
Suddenly, an explosion. Millions of little silver fish jumped. The water boiled with fish. She lunged up to gulp down her favorite krill.
Yummy, said the whale !
We cut back the boat engine and pointed away from her. We used a long lens, as not to disturb her, and eased past her, unseen. She rested on top of the ocean. Then, she dove, and with her massive jaws open, lunged up to gulp down more food.
Said the Whale: "The moral of the story is listen to Mother Nature and you will hear and see magical things."
His tropically patterned shirt is soaked through. Rain water swirls around his bare feet as he takes three last hits from his cigarette and reads the restaurant menu's description of its $16 lobster avocado cocktail.
Splashing his clothes repeatedly, a group of cyclists rolls through water that locals have dubbed Lobster Pot Lake. Above, the Cape Cod sky turns a leaden gray. A single car creeps through the lobster lake waters of Commercial street with low beams illuminating the streets reflective signs in a vain attempt to find its way through the dark street.
A single baby stroller rolls down the street, its hidden passenger tucked safely under a blue hurricane tarp. Tethered to their dogs and kids, the parents mush.
My camera flash blazes. Staying dry under my old black umbrella, it wordlessly freezes vertical slices of rain, soaking them in to its memory card. Nearby, like blossoming flowers, bouquets of umbrellas open up to the sky. Their muzzled owners jaywalk across Commercial, because nobody one wants to wade though Lobster Pot lake.
This lake stretches just twenty-five feet across Commercial to the Governor Bradford restaurant. It reflects the red hues from the Lobster Pot's tubular, cursive neon sign. People are moving swiftly to shelter-- the Cape Cod cloudburst comes during lunch hour, at noon on a September Wednesday.
Between Ryder and Winslow streets, a few souls traverse the street. Punctuated by their dazzling sneakers, a puddle on Commercial street reflects a vinyl Peace Sign next to an equally plastic US flag. Sopping wet, but still velcroed to their owners, the running shoes dash off as their humans search out rain ponchos.
But it's too late. . .lightning bolts divide the sky. It pours.
Rain drops taper off. The storm clouds disappear. Sunlight paints the street with diffuse light from the southwest. All the passers-by walk on, except for one young beagle who stops to snarf up a toddler-plopped ice cream cone.
Stuffed into my dry backpack, the camera contemplates memories, hypnotized with images, and dreams of imaginary scenes that escaped its owner's wide eyes. Outside, the afternoon sky is now a pale blue.
I feel lighter, and walk on.
Rowing at low tide, the smell of kelp and creosote mixes with the aroma of fir trees. My dinghy, Dog Paddle, sneaks past the rusted steel sides of a docked fishing vessel, Primo. She is motionless, as if she has not left port in years. The red walls of Knickel are reflected in the clear harbor water. Lunenburg is waking up.
Tires line the sides of the pier. Their rubber is worn from the sides of docked ships. Above one cluster of used tires, the new truck tires of a parked vehicle seem to be almost bragging that they are still loved by the Chevy.
Underneath the pier, green sea algae grows. Paddling though a broken piling, Dog Paddle floats into the center of darkness. As the eyes adjust, the view is out to the golf course on the other side of the harbor. This view is framed by criss-crossing piling struts that support the pilings.