Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ever spring

Where do the dead leaves go in Dorchester? I don't know. The wind tosses them in autumn and then they disappear. The trees remain. The trees cut their spindly silhouettes against winter skies but the leaves are naught but memories before the first snow falls. This is a tidy neighborhood. When the climate warms, buds burst from broken twig tips.

There is salt still caked around the cracks in the streets. I swerve to avoid the piles on my motorcycle during my morning commute. From a distance, I mistake them for ice. They are salt, the opposite but just as treacherous of what they are meant to prevent, but a hazard nonetheless when leaning in at a tilt on two wheels. One season blends into the next in Dorchester. Life goes on according to its rhythms. What you supposed yesterday is likewise true today. The streets are navigable and safe, but only if you keep your senses sharply alert to potential danger.

In October, the trees are golden with burnished rust ,and honey brown, and orange and yellow like a freshly stuck match head. In February, the trees are kindle sticks waiting for the right breeze to blow them down. The ground is hard with hoarfrost and ice crystals that glint prisms in the rising sunlight. I haul my back tire over the remnants of winter's churned and refrozen ground and then I speed off, free as a canary out of a cage, along Boston's pockmarked roadways free of ice, if not hazards.

In September, wet leaves are as slippery as ice. In spring, wet leaves are a half-forgotten memory. Where do the leaves go? They go where all dead dreams in Dorchester go: into the scrap heap, the ash can, the garbage bin dumster, back-loading truck full of yesterdays gone and discarded, swept up, bundled up, collected for sanitary disposal. Every season in Dorchester offers its own hurdles and enticements. The weather is a pleasure year-round for different reasons every month. Some dreams don't die, however.

Dorchester lives on. It is a community that wants to thrive, just as the first settlers wanted to make their mark on a new continent in a new colony on Massachusets Bay that was settled before Boston itself was founded. The settlement of Dorchester precedes the settlement of Boston by a few months. Dorchesterites were here first. Boston gets the glory but Dorchester does the work. Where to the dead leaves go?

You won't find any dead leaves on Dot Ave. You'll find dead wood in the bloated organizations that make up the banks, the hospitals, the remaining factories, the investment houses, the lobbyist firms, the law offices, City Hall, in Boston proper. Dorchester is full of rent-seekers but it is also full of people making a living parlaying their professions, their knowledge and experience. Capenters, electricians, plumbers, paper-hangers, bricklayers, linemen, grouters, mechanics and machinists all make good and perform their tasks well in Dorchester, Mass., a part of Boston.

I don't see dead leaves in Dorchester. I don't see skeletal siluhoettes. As I zip form one end of Boston to another though Dorchester, I see people getting by, adding their might and their rights and their ability to build a great city more solidly tenoned into the puddingstone that makes up the foundation. Boston is a world-class city. It is world-class because the people of Dorchester helped build it. The surroundings are proof that no detail is neglected. There are no dead leaves in Dorchester.

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