Sunday, December 09, 2007

Plenty is Pretty

Never trust a newspaper to describe your surroundings. I have read the headlines about the strife and knife fights and gunfire that is supposedly ripping Dorchester apart. I live in Dorchester and it is not the war zone I read about. I have been all over the terrain and I have met friendly people minding their own business wherever I have gone. If a little rough around the core, this is no rotten apple.

I refuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I would rather go swimming at Malibu Beach or Tenean Beach. I stand at the summit of Meetinghouse Hill and survey the surroundings. Everything looks fine from where I stand.

I live in the Fourth Haven neighborhood, an oasis bounded by Upham’s Corner and Dorchester Bay east to west, and Columbia Road-Savin Hill Avenue north to south. This is a condensed, colorful microcosm of society, full of Vietnamese, Irish, Yankee, a little Polska, a little Italia, a little mandarin, a little West European right off the airplane and a little East Indian by way of Brooklyn. I’m from Connecticut, myself. I arrived on a motorcycle on I-95 during an August thunderstorm.

I live in neither a bubble nor a glass house. I live amongst my neighbors in a hurly-burly, jumbled borough chockablock with a polyglot griot of dialects, accents, pidgin and signs. Any stories about sorties that will make your hair stand on end are set in the past. Most of what happens nowadays is as humdrum and homely as a fresh loaf of bread. Hope springs eternal where people come together to make a good life. Dorchester is a place like that. It seems more than pretty good to me.

Dorchester is built on a solid foundation of Roxbury puddingstone. If this seems an oxymoron, remember, Dorchester is the biggest, most diverse part of Boston. Never trust a zip code to define your destination. A citizen of Dorchester is a citizen of the world, an inhabitant of one the greatest cities on the globe, spending time occupying one of the seats of civilization. When Boston boils over, the froth flows into Dorchester, lifting all boats in the process. In a game of musical chairs, the one left standing can be the winner. That person gets to go pursue his or her own passion.

All is well between Mattapan and Lower Mills and Andrew Square, through Upham’s Corner and South Bay to Newmarket, to Morton Street, in Codman Square, on Meetinghouse Hill, on Savin Hill, on Columbia Point, around Neponset Circle, in Adams Village and Ashmont and Peabody Square and Field’s Corner, along Norfolk Street and the whole length of Dot Ave itself.

Plenty is pretty in Dorchester, Mass., the best part of Boston. The streetscapes are picturesque and the plentiful people promenade at play with nary a care to spoil their toil. If building a community is work, many hands make it light as a feather in the breeze. Everyone and sundry contribute their airs to the pleasant perfume that blows off Dorchester Bay and ruffles the ripples of the placid Neponset. Ply the tides of Dorchester’s traffic long enough and you will walk with a spring in your step even in winter. You will smile that contented smile that everyone wears when they put their I on the Dot.


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