We went to a bakery in Concord sometime this past autumn and, while we were waiting in line for two coffees and a sandwiches, someone already seated at a table said, "It smells like Dorchester in here."
It did smell like Dorchester in that bakery located in the town where the shot heard 'round the world was fired. It smelled like fresh baked bread and nutritious ingredients. It smelled like freshly ground, roasted coffee beans. It smelled like a lot of upright, clean-scrubbed people waiting patiently in line. It smelled wholesome and civilized. It did smell like Dorchester, Mass.
I was down in Peabody Square this morning. There wasn't a bakery nearby, nor many other types of businesses open. The Tedeschi was doing a brisk business in newspapers, lottery tickets and smokeless tobacco and the fire station was manned, but the psychic wasn't yet awake, the packy hadn't yet unlocked its doors, and the trendy restaurants wouldn't fire up their ovens for another five hours at least.
Flat Black Coffee was open and people walked Dot Ave down to the T station with fragrant coffee cups in hand. It wasn't the coffee that made the air fragrant with Dot spirit. It was the people. It was the homes stacked back to front up Ashmont Hill. It was the apartments, one on top of another, one after another, and another and another as far as two legs could walk, that gave Peabody Square that Dot vibe. Dorchester: wide and vast and deep.
It smelled like Dorchester today, in Dorchester. No chill wind or ill wind can tamp that spirit. It may not be the busiest hive of activity in the metro Boston nest of neighborhoods, but it's the biggest and it's the sweetest. Dorchester smells people working together, Honey. No harsh words were heard around Ashmont Station. People commiserated about the windchill rather than trying to pick fights.