Boston and Roses

by: Joanne Meehl

When I was last in Boston, in December of 2011, it was unseasonably warm at 61 degrees. Christmas decorations were everywhere but people were carrying their jackets. I walked with my friend from the North End through the Public Garden, seeing roses in bloom, hearing the surprised comments of others walking through, about flowers that should have been dormant in December. But I loved that I could see another season just weeks before Christmas.

We walked on, to Copley Square where my friend had to dash into a store, but I waited outside. I was able to survey this huge square, bounded on the west side by the Boston Public Library, a marvelous old building with the Marathon finish line permanently painted onto the street, and on the north by the grand dame Fairmont Hotel. Boylston Street and its cafes and shops bounds the south. I was looking east across the lawn and stone plaza, beyond people lingering as well as those strutting to their next appointments, at Trinity Church. Built in the 1870s, it sits close to the glass Hancock Tower. I was savoring the old church being reflected in the glass of the newer building: that delicious contrast, and how it enhances both buildings. And I realized it took my being away for a few years to realize that this, this was my favorite place in Boston. It personifies Boston somehow: the old and the new, and the calm and the quick, happily side by side.

I'd lived in the Boston area for over 30 years and because of that, and my many human ties to the area, it still feels like where I'm from. I chose to move there after grad school years ago because of the numerous colleges there where I intended to get a job, and indeed, that's what happened, and so began my career.

Leaving the area in 2008, I've told my Minnesota friends about it more than they probably want to hear, waxing on in particular about "the best, most 'Boston' day to be in Boston is Patriots Day", with the Marathon, the Red Sox game, the historical re-enactments.

Now the joy of this April day is shattered. It won't be destroyed. But someone with a cold, hard heart hurt it, someone tainted it. That taint will fade and wash away with heroism and other good works by so many good people.

But. But I cannot forget the blood on the sidewalk, especially now that I know it came from an 8 year-old boy, a 29 year old young woman, students, others. I hope before rain or hoses wash the blood away, there is a ceremony there and someone says holy words that honor those who died and were so terribly injured. Words that remind us that the quiet and relentless power of love always defeats spasms of hate.

And here's hoping that people leave roses, many roses.


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