Saturday, September 29, 2007

Alone in a crowd~

Today while Bruce is busy, I take my camera and drive to Blue Hills Reservation. Twenty minutes away, this reserve with miles of hiking trails makes a nice Saturday afternoon jaunt.

The beautiful weather drew crowds-- families, couples holding hands, friends, and the occasional loner like myself. I don't mind being alone. I thrive on it.

I watch people, I listen, I speculate, sometimes correctly, and sometimes not. Sometimes I start up a conversation.

I decide to climb Great Blue, a hill not much more than 600 feet, but high enough to have a weather observatory on its summit, and offer a panoramic view of the Boston skykline. I choose the red trail, rockier, steeper and more of a challenge than the green dots. I weave through the hikers and move ahead at my own pace. I'm not a meanderer.

Around a curve is a woman taking pictures of three boys. She's patient as she gets them to look at the camera. I wonder where her husband is, and think he may be just ahead. Often the men move quickly with a toddler on their shoulders while the mother herds the siblings at a slower pace.

I see her again at the summit, and later at the observatory. She's squatting in front of the boys. I'm impressed that she is taking such care with her pictures.

One of the boys makes rabbit ears behind his brother. "Oh, Tommy has such a nice smile. Why don't you smile too," she says and he drops his hand and smiles.

"So handsome," she says.

I remember how hard it was to get a picture of my three without the rabbit ears, or one with crossed eyes and his tongue stuck out, while the other two looked angelic.

Later I stand behind her as she encourages one of the boys to read information about the weather station. She's giving him all her attention.

"What grade is he in?" I ask. He looks too young to read such big words.

"Second," she says. "He's a good reader."

Then the rest of the story comes out. Two of the three boys are her neighbor's. Their father has just gone to Iraq. Her husband is also in Iraq. She is taking pictures to email to them. She has the boys for the day to give her friend a break. She plans to speak to her son's class about the war. She seems glad to talk. I'm happy to listen.

But I don't do what I want to do, which is give her a hug. I was by myself today, but she was alone in a different way. She will be alone until April, if all goes as she prays it will.
For more information about the Blue Hills Reservation click here:
Blue Hills Reservation
Wikipedia Information


rain said...

I like this story...paints a picture. I'm curious about the is just reserve lands that folks hike on, or an actual park/project/destination designed and maintained by the local First Nations? I like your observatory picture.

Janice Thomson said...

I like the fact the woman is not sitting at home worrying but making the most of life while hubby is away.
What would be even better is the day when the men never need to be away fighting in a war.

Jennifer Curtis said...

Wow Ruth...isn't it amazing-- all the stories we're walking around in? Smack dab in the middle of them. I bet it did her heart well to talk with you.

(And, I'd love to hike with you there someday soon!)

Ruth D~ said...

Rain~ "Reserve" has nothing to do with Indian Nations, although. This is a "reserve" of land controlled by the Metropolitan Parks Commission for public recreation. The Massachusettes Tribe--People of the Great Hills-- did live there. I meant to include a couple of links to the Blue Hills on the blog. I'll do that and you can get a better idea.

Jen~ I don't mind my alone time. What teacher does? But by the time I was making my way down the hill, I was thinking it would be nice to make the trek with a friend. With or without babies, They'd need to be backpacked up the hill and I could use the exercise. Let me know. In a week or two the color will be better.

Janice~ Yes, to both your thoughts. She was making the best for her son and the neighbor and her boys, and for herself of course. There were so many things I wanted to say, but none of them would have seemed more than a platitude, and I don't do platitudes well. So I mentally hugged her. Maybe she felt that.

rain said...

Thanks for the extra info-what a nice big park so close to the city.

sc morgan said...

Ruth~ this was such an interesting essay. Quite like our "essay for the week" it didn't go where I thought it was going from the beginning of the piece. I guess that's what happens when we stray off the track and remain inquisitive.

I'd look for a publishing venue for this one. I'm sure it would touch the hearts of many, and not just those who have family serving in the military.

I always enjoy your writing. Nicely done!

Voyager said...

I love how this started with your walk and circled to the woman whose husband is at war. I cannot imagine how she copes with the fear.

Anonymous said...

Should have known when you wondered if her husband was up ahead that that was a clue to one of your typically delightful surprises that have a serendipitous way of popping up in spots where you didn't expect them :-)

Lisa said...

Hi Ruth! I found you through Flickr.
What a wonderful post with a moving story. Your pictures are just lovely. I will bookmark this site and check it often!

Ruth D~ said...

Sarah~ Thanks for your vote of confidence, as always.

V~ I guess she copes by keeping busy. Sounds like it anyway.

Papa D~You've already caught on to my "serendipitous" ways. I love serendipity.

Lisa~ I welcome you and have discovered we're neighbors, of sorts, by tracking you to your beautiful photoblog. Come back again.