Thursday, January 15, 2009

Boston 2.7.02: Fens and Tiny Jewels of Gardens

In Boston. Chuck lives near what are called the Victory Gardens, in the Fenway. They’re little fenced-in plots in a park, which one rents for $10/year. Absolutely gorgeous little jewels of gardens, flowing with roses, hollyhocks, poppies, perennial sweetpeas, and everything else imaginable.

Some are little hiding places, with ferns, hostas, shade-loving plants. Some have arbors and swings, others picnic tables. A number have mini rock gardens or tiny ponds.

The gardens are in rows, like houses on a street, with woodchip walkways running throughout like a grid of streets in a neighborhood. All totally enchanting.

The park has a tiny river, the Muddy River, running through it, bordered by reeds—the fens for which Fenway is named. Paths run into the reeds, but we didn’t venture there. My Southern sensibility makes me fearful of places snakes may live, though this may not be a problem in Boston. And Chuck tells us the reeds are used for trysts and sexual assignations. We did see some very unsavory characters weaving in and out of them.

The park and much of this area of the city are full of lindens in full bloom, with a fragrance I didn’t know lindens could have—overpowering, heavy, sweet: at times almost like night-blooming jasmine in New Orleans. I’ve smelled linden in northern Europe, but there it’s demure and almost medicinal in its clean smell. In the warm muggy air of a Boston July, it must become something else.

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Sunday was a rest day. After the walk through the Victory Gardens, we shopped for groceries to fix grillades and grits for Chuck. Otherwise, we lazed about in the evening and watched “The Others,” which we’d rented at a video shop near Chuck.

Monday, Steve and I went to Harvard Square by subway and shopped. Had lunch at a place Bartley’s, which serves a dreadful Cobb salad, all cubes of pressed “turkey” and processed cheese, and one miserable tomato slice. The dressing, a lemon vinaigrette, had absolutely no taste of lemon and was sickeningly sweet. Why do people in the enlightened north seem to think that salad dressings should be sweet, and salads should taste like desserts?

Today to Dedham, where Steve wants to find records of his Kuld ancestors. We’re waiting now outside Longview/Shapiro hospital, where Chuck is retrieving his MRI records.

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