Autumn and Arboretum
We arrived in Boston just in time for Valerie to enjoy her first experience1 of the truly-reputed New England autumn—a life-modifying Providence that comes each year to stuff our emotional batteries with joy, before winter sets in and starts to drain away our belief in color and sweet temperatures. At a price2 we could afford, the MTA3 delivered us to its Riverside station, a short walk from Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.4 Where, in her tangerine wool outfit, my principal treasure fit right in.
1I’d already had that revelation, six years earlier. Growing up on the edge of the desert, where dry, concrete-lined “washes” pass as “rivers, ” and where any green vegetation one’s soul might desire had to be cultivated and irrigated, I’d read and heard the usual European stories of children skipping down shaded lanes beside streams of all sizes, but never empty. And I’d formed the private opinion that those tales were all eyewash, intended to fool me and my gullible peers into believing in a mythical Eden. Then, in 1957, we drove around this beautiful country, including the part east of the Mississippi. Where, to my delight and amazement, green plants still grow spontaneously to the edge of the pavement! With nobody even watering them! My first glimpse of the Mississippi changed a lot of my young attitudes and preconceptions.
2A twenty-cent token took us from the Arlington stop to anyplace the subway went.
3Yes, “Charlie”’s MTA, the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Its current incarnation as the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay…) preserves Charlie’s name in its much pricier fare system, which soaks visitors in a discriminatory fashion.
4Where, as we couldn’t know then, our youngest daughter Rebecca would later work and gain much of her knowledge about the natural world.
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