Sunday, May 31, 2009

let us now praise ...

May 31

Meet Trotsky. Born in the vicinity of Acton, Massachusetts, Trotsky has lived his entire life--11 years and counting--here in Allston. Very much attached to his family--he prefers the term 'pack'--Trotsky performs a number of domestic chores: discouraging intruders and greeting other dogs with his sonorous bark, tracking the whereabouts of other pack members, and patrolling his yard. Once he even caught a rat and dispatched it expertly, despite his total lack of prior experience. Trotsky is an admirer of the U.S. Postal Service, and greets its employees enthusiastically, shaking them down for dog biscuits and PDA's. He has a fanatical aversion to squirrels, and relentlessly chases them back into their trees during his daily visit to Hooker Park. He similarly disapproves of loud or unruly pedestrians and loudly admonishes them from his listening post at the window. Along with many others like himself Trotsky helps make the Allston community what it is, and I thought he deserved this brief recognition. Good dog! 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Riverside places (1)

May 29

Just west of Watertown square the Charles river plunges some five feet to its death. The violence of this act is diffused in the long, smooth contour of the spillway, the roar and splash of the rebounding water, the assiduity of the gulls (and occasional humans) who fish here, and above all in the serenity and peace of this spot. It is nonetheless true that the river as such meets its end here. What continues on to join the Atlantic ocean at Boston harbor is not a river at all but the Charles River basin, an artificial body of water whose level and flow are regulated by the dam at its eastern end, the counterpart to this falls. In between falls and dam the water flows, but at an engineered rate, at the whim, one might say, of the hydrologists. Though it still looks and feels like a river, that fact of regulation changes just a little the way I feel about the lower Charles--and makes me appreciate all the more the vitality, the wildness even, of this place. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Corn's Up!

May 28

Trying to reenergize this blog, I've thought I might include a running account of my efforts at farming in Allston. Here at my plot in the Herter Community Garden, the corn I planted in six hills a week ago is just showing above ground (hat tip to Bob V who not only phoned to tell me but used his phone to send a photo, a confusion of technologies I find perplexing). In any case, corn has long been my favorite plant to grow, part for the vigor and size of the plant, part for the incomparable taste of the ears fresh-picked, part for certain mythic associations from the Hebrew prophets all the way to Longfellow's Hiawatha. They're so tiny and vulnerable now, but in two months time, if the gods are willing and the weather auspicious, if the rabbits desist and the pests forbear, these plants will be towering overhead, angular ears protruding, tassles whispering in the wind. A miracle.