As a result of not working, and in an attempt to procrastinate my inevitable need to pack and move away, Monday night I flipped through the Boston guidebook given to me in anticipation of my freshman year at MIT five years ago. I’ve never really consulted the guidebook before for anything other than the occassional quest for a new restaurant. But this time I was looking for something to do in the city that I had never done in my five years of living here.
And then I found it — The Emerald Necklace, five miles of parks that includes the Fens, Riverway, Olmstead Park, Jamaica Pond, the Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park.
So, early afternoon on Tuesday, I took the Green Line over to Kenmore and set off into the greenery. Somewhere, either in the Fens or the early part of Riverside (the parks blended together), I stopped to watch a high school fastpitch softball game — the team in green, with their hyperactive and aggressive coach, appeared to be dominating the team in blue. But, knowing that I wanted to be back in time for my last Gilmore Girls watching experience with Lisa and that I had much more park to go, I picked up after an inning and headed into the woods.
Riverway was my favorite stretch of the parks. I felt so separated from the city, and yet a D Line Train rode past me every few minutes, cutting through the trees and reminding me that I was still in Boston. It was also on the Riverway that the Canadian geese and their goslings crossed my path. Now, growing up we had lots of Canadian geese in our neighborhood. I learned very quickly to stay away from the ones with goslings, because if you even looked at them funny, Mama Goose would get defensive and start hissing at you. And believe me, hissing geese are not something you want to encounter from a short range. But Bostonian Canadian geese are much more polite — or perhaps more used to people. As I held my breath and walked through the gaggle that was spread out across the pathway, not one of them seemed bothered by my presence. City geese, I guess.
Olmstead Park was also very pleasant. At one point I opted to head off of the paved sidewalk, following a runner onto a dirt path into the woods (which looked like it may have just been a well worn erosion trail — my old camp counselors would have been very disappointed in me). Once the dirt path seemed to disappear and the runner I had followed was long gone, I started wandering the woods and I stumbled onto a pond. The pond, which based on maps I looked at later was probably Wards Pond, had a little boardwalk and I ran into a few dog walkers there. But I circled that pond twice, and I never figured out where the non-erosion trail entrance was. And so, I simply hopped a little brick wall and found myself ten yards from the shore of Jamaica Pond.
Now, I’m going to digress a bit here for a linguistics question. Why are Jamaica Pond and Walden Pond considered ponds in Massachusetts? Maybe it’s because we count everything so that we can brag about having the most, but in Minnesota, those bodies of water would be called lakes. Heck, even Turtle Lake isn’t referred to as a pond, and that’s just a glorified marsh in my backyard. (See Google map vs. satellite image.)
In any event, Jamaica Pond was lovely. From there I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, but I followed Arborway and walked myself around a rotary, the first time all day that I walked alongside cars. Yet magically I didn’t get lost and wound up at the Arnold Arboretum. The lilacs were in full bloom and it was under a lilac bush that I decided to finally stop and take my first rest since the softball game. I had brought a book of crossword puzzles, so I pulled it out and started puzzling away.
And then I remembered.
I’m allergic to lilacs. (Well, basically, I’m allergic to any flower in bloom.) My eyes started watering and my notorious sneezes started coming full force. So, I picked up and moved on, stopping to watch a pair of frolicking bunnies in the non-blooming rose bushes. As it was late in the day, I didn’t continue on to Franklin Park and the zoo. Instead I hopped on an Orange Line train at the Forest Hills stop and headed back into the city.
The whole day was a little surreal. For five years I have lived here and always missed the wildlife that used to live in my backyard. I’ve never really considered Boston Common a real park, as it is far too citified. And yet this whole time, a real park existed… I just had to venture out of my way a little to find it.