The Boston Globe
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Region braces for storm, possible
Rains may ease by start of Marathon
By Tracy Jan
A major northeaster was expected
to bear down on the Bay State today, dumping more
than 4 inches of rain and threatening severe
flooding of coastal areas and city streets.
The heavy rain and winds are expected to last all
day and should not taper off until around 6 a.m.
Weather and emergency personnel advised people to
stay inside and avoid the roads. The Coast Guard
warned fishermen not to venture out to sea, where
winds will be gusting up to 55 miles per hour and
seas will crest to over 20 feet.
"It's going to be pretty rough and stormy out
there," said Petty Officer Etta Smith, a Coast Guard
All of southern New England is on a flood watch, an
unusual scenario created by the coincidence of the
storm and the highest tides of the year, said Peter
Judge, spokesman for the state Emergency Management
Communities on the Cape, the South Coast, and the
North Shore are preparing sand bags and lining up
emergency shelters, he said.
Once the coastal flooding wanes, rivers could begin
flooding tomorrow and could remain swollen through
Wednesday, said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist with
the National Weather Service in Taunton. "It's kind
of like a one - two punch," Simpson said. "Luckily
it's happening over the weekend. If this were
happening during a commute, boy, it could be
The good news is that the worst of the storm should
be over by the time 23,000 runners take their marks
in Hopkinton for the Boston Marathon tomorrow.
Heated medical tents and buses will be set up along
the course, Judge said. Some communities are setting
up pumps in case of flooding. Catch basins are being
cleared, and trees are being pruned because of
Normal spring weather is not expected to return
until next weekend, when temperatures are supposed
to rise to the low to mid-50s, Simpson said. "But
there are no guarantees," he said. "Spring will come
eventually, next year. Talk to Al Gore about that."
The Boston Globe
Monday, April 16, 2007
Heavy rain throws wet blanket on
Many events canceled, but Marathon still on
By Maria Cramer and James Vaznis
No Paul Revere impersonators. No
Battle of Lexington reenactments. No parades.
A major storm that brought pounding rain, stinging
sleet, and 50-mile-per-hour winds to the region
yesterday halted many Patriots Day events that draw
Revolutionary War aficionados, but it was not enough
to cancel today's Boston Marathon for thousands of
participants willing to brave the soggy conditions.
Three to five inches of rain was expected to soak
Greater Boston by this morning, the National Weather
Service reported . While winds were expected to die
down, officials predicted gusts would still whip at
15 to 20 miles an hour.
The downpour compelled the Massachusetts Emergency
Management Agency to activate its State Emergency
Operations Center in Framingham last night to
monitor the storm.
"We're watching the high tides coming in, and our
initial concern is the potential for coastal
flooding," spokesman Paul Judge said. "Over the next
couple of days, we could see at least moderate
flooding and erosion, and urban street flooding.
This is going to be a multi day event, and we have
activated 24/7 services, remaining open until the
event is over to help the local communities."
The storm prompted Boston officials to cancel this
morning's flag-raising ceremony, parade, and
reenactment of Paul Revere's ride (alerting
residents to the arrival of British combatants in
1775). Yesterday's Red Sox-Angels game also was
postponed, but this morning's match up was still
scheduled late last evening .
In Lexington, though a planned 5-mile road race
today was still on, officials canceled this
morning's re enactment of the 1775 Battle of
Lexington. The move caused some to reflect on how
rain might have affected the revolutionaries, who
fought under sunny skies in 50-degree temperatures.
"I do find myself wondering if the militia would
have canceled their battle," said would-be spectator
Noelle Dye, 46, of Charlestown, as she stood at the
foot of the Old North Bridge in Concord.
Others decried the cancellation as the result of a
society more concerned with comfort than honoring
history. "I don't think there are a lot of hardy New
Englanders left," said Purdy Bottino, of Plymouth,
who spent the weekend in Concord with her husband
and friends to partake in Patriots Day activities.
"There are a lot of transients now who don't have
that hardy New England spirit."
Carl Valente, Lexington's town manager, said
officials and re enactors canceled the event because
they feared participants could suffer hypothermia,
particularly those playing casualties who would have
had to lie on cold wet grass during much of the
roughly 20-minute battle.
It is believed to be the first time the decades-old
event, which would have featured 55 Minutemen and
about 125 British soldiers, has been canceled.
"It's very disappointing," Valente said. "This is
not only a long-standing event, but it allows
Lexington to celebrate its rich history. "
Flood warnings were issued for Essex, Middlesex, and
Suffolk counties until 9:30 a.m. today. Warnings
also were issued for urban areas in Rhode Island and
Connecticut and for some small streams . The storm
wreaked havoc on some roads, forcing the state and
the city of Revere to close a storm gate across
Winthrop Parkway. Authorities rerouted traffic
between Winthrop and Revere to local streets. A
quarter-mile of Greenough Boulevard in Watertown
also was closed because of flooding.
In cities and towns where flooding has historically
destroyed property and forced evacuations, officials
cleared storm drains and handed out sandbags to
In Peabody, Department of Public Works employees had
passed out about 2,000 bags by the end of the day.
Camille McKenney, who said her house on Pierpont
Street has been flooded twice in the last 11 months,
lined about 40 sandbags against the structure and
another 40 against a fence in her driveway.
"I'm thinking about having the house raised 4 feet
to get me out of this mess," she said. "I'm tired of
it. My house is getting ruined."
As of 10:30 p.m., Richard Carnevale, public works
director in Peabody, said there was no evident
There is potential for coastal flooding today and
river flooding tomorrow, said Bill Simpson,
spokesman for the National Weather Service in
Taunton , who warned that winds would hamper
pedestrians, joggers, and especially Boston Marathon
"Running 26 miles in 40-degree weather and a
headwind is not as bad as running in torrential
downpours," he said. "But, boy, that's going to be a
Runners picking up their race numbers at the Hynes
Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston
yesterday took a stalwart stance against the
Albert Allen, 62, of Los Angeles, who has run in 22
marathons, some in temperatures above 90 degrees,
said he could brave the cold rain in just a
short-sleeved shirt and shorts. "I sweat a lot," he
said. "I prefer the cold."
He said he worried more about his friends, Antonia
Routt, 51, and Adell Williams, 59, also from Los
Angeles, who planned to cheer him on from the
street. "It's harder on them than it is for us," he
said. "At least we're moving."
Sybil Carven, 41, of Kittery Point, Maine, said she
would watch the event on television. In the last
four years, she has stood dutifully on the streets
while her husband, Tim, ran.
"Because of this weather and the fact that I'm nine
months pregnant, I'm not going to," she said as she
played with her 18-month-old daughter, Caroline, at
the convention center. "I feel kind of bad. It's so
sad because it's the crowds that carry people
through these things."
Tim Carven, 43, an elementary school physical
education teacher, said he planned to wear a tight
undershirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and thermal
underwear to avoid the shivers, though he worried
the gear might slow his running.
"If you wear too much, it's going to get
waterlogged, and you're going to have to carry it
the whole way," he said.
His wife had simple advice for him on how to avoid
"Run fast," she said.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Nor’easter takes Bay State by
Howler floods homes, cuts power
By Heather Schultz
Hundreds were evacuated from
flooded homes and thousands were left without power
yesterday as record rainfalls and howling winds
raked the East Coast for the second day.
“The worst is over,” said the National Weather
Service’s Charlie Foley of the nor’easter that first
slammed the East Coast early Sunday morning.
Eleven have died, including Lebanon, Maine, resident
Donna Dube, 50, and her 4-year-old granddaughter,
Saphire Perro, who were swept away by surging
floodwaters when they attempted to cross the street,
said Lt. Joseph Perron of the Lebanon Police
In Boston, wind yanked off a section of windowed
roof at the Mercantile Wharf Building on Atlantic
Avenue, where residents were evacuated. The debris
crushed a couple of cars parked nearby.
“It’s very distressing - I’ll tell you that,” said a
63-year-old, 25-year resident of the apartments as
he sat outside waiting for his sister. “This wind is
The noise woke him shortly after 6 a.m., he said,
asking not to be named. “I heard something slide
down the side of the building.”
Building manager Chris Sullivan said he hoped to let
evacuated residents back in late yesterday.
“The plan is evolving as we speak,” he said,
surveying the damage. “We’re just trying to make
Watching workers take chain saws to the metal and
heavy gray plastic panels of roof and the mangled
cars, a cop shook his head.
“It’s a good thing it happened when it did,” he
said. “And not on the weekend, or during the day.”
The Bay State was pounded by more than 5 inches of
rain. Statewide as many as 90,000 customers were
without electricity yesterday morning as crews
scrambled to restore power.
Crashing waves delivered foam, salt water, sand and
debris to the doorsteps of seaside residents from
Plymouth to Salisbury.
Coastal flooding at high tide temporarily cut Plum
Island off from Newburyport yesterday morning.
National Guard units have been dispatched in 33
trucks and one bus, to perform “evacuation and
preparedness missions” in Gloucester, Newbury,
Newburyport, Revere, Salisbury, Westfield and
Winthrop, said spokesman Maj. Winfield Danielson.
Foley, at the National Weather Service, said high
tide could still cause “minor splash-over” as late
as this morning, but added that the storm had
diminished to occasional rain and cool temperatures.
National Weather Service --
Point Forecast: Marblehead, MA
Last Update: 4:19 am EDT Apr 18, 2007
Today: Periods of rain possibly mixed with
sleet. Patchy fog before 3pm. High near 40. Breezy,
with a north wind between 16 and 24 mph, with gusts
as high as 44 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Tonight: Periods of rain. Low around 35. North
wind between 16 and 20 mph. Chance of precipitation
is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and
quarter of an inch possible.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Record rainfall hits the Merrimack
By Jaclyn Fitzgerald
Torrential rains, gusty winds and
high tides left several Bay State cities battling
flood waters yesterday, with the Merrimack Valley
hit the hardest, according to the National Weather
The city of Lowell declared a state of emergency as
rainfall totals of 5 inches and high winds led to
flooding along the Merrimack and Concord rivers.
Shelters have been set up, including one at the
Lowell Senior Center.
“This was a storm with lots of potential,” said
Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts
Emergency Management Agency. “It was a recipe for
some serious damage.”
The Merrimack River is about 6 feet over flood
level, its fifth highest level in history, according
to news reports. Several roads were closed due to
flooding, including parts of Route 113 in Lowell and
Route 114 in Lawrence. Roadways in Winthrop and
Marshfield were also turned into waterways.
High tides swamped the Cape Cod shore, and several
Nantucket homes were swept into the ocean.
The Hub had no significant flooding or road closures
despite 3 inches of rainfall, although the Charles
River is expected to crest today, officials say.
“This type of storm is a lot of rain over a long
period of time, and our drainage system can
definitely handle this type of rainstorm,” said
Thomas Bagley of the Boston Water and Sewer
Some 50,000 power outages were reported Monday
throughout the Boston area, according to Nstar
spokesman Michael Durand, all of which were repaired
David Graves, spokesman for National Grid, said
power outages north of Boston have been taken care
of and do not appear to be a problem at this time.
“If we do turn off power, it’s at the request of
police and fire. It’s a safety issue,” said Graves.
Today’s weather is expected to be more of the same,
with temperatures in the low 40s, rain and winds,
said the weather service’s Charlie Foley.
“We’re not going to see any improvement until
Friday,” Foley said, “when we will start to see some
glimmer of sunshine.”
The Boston Globe
Thursday, April 19, 2007
A soggy N.E. waits for the clouds
By John R. Ellement and Andrew C. Ryan
State and local officials hoped
the end had arrived for a storm system that flooded
rivers, closed or washed out roads, and eroded
coastal beaches to the point where houses fell into
"There are areas that have been impacted and
individual homeowners and basements that have been
impacted," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
But conditions did not approach those of May 2006,
when floods swept the region, compromised numerous
dams, caused about $80 million in damage, and killed
two people, Judge added.
"The weather was just not as bad," he said.
In New Hampshire, officials in Newmarket and Hollis
kept wary eyes on dams under stress from high water
flows as that state struggled to overcome a greater
level of damage than seen in Massachusetts,
In Maine, three people died in storm-related events,
and officials predicted damage to public
infrastructure will eclipse that of the May 2006
Utility companies in both states were working to
restore power to thousands of customers in areas
where falling tree limbs severed power lines and
frustrated crews as they tried to repair the damage.
In Massachusetts, coastal areas remained on alert
into this morning because of the seasonal high tides
that have washed onto roads in Greater Boston since
the rains began Sunday. The region has seen 2 to 6
inches of rain.
Dozens of basements were flooded, but officials said
no major property damage was reported in mainland
coastal communities such as Winthrop and Revere.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed that it's over,"
said Fire Chief Edward Hurley of Scituate, where
some roads were periodically closed and at least one
residence was evacuated because of the high tides.
The storm hit the southwest shore of Nantucket and
bit chunks out of fragile sand bluffs in Maddaket,
loosening the foundation beneath a half-dozen
houses. One of the cottages on Sheep Pond Road
dropped into the ocean, one was deemed
uninhabitable, and four need to have their
foundations reinforced, said Nantucket Fire Chief
In Lowell, City Manager Bernard Lynch said that
emergency work during the past several days
prevented greater flood damage in the city and that
some sewer work after last year's flood prevented a
For Debbie Luna of Lowell, the issue was restoring
the house that she and her family had just finished
repairing after last year's flooding. Yesterday, as
the family's latest recovery effort began, a 4-inch
hose spewed tan water from her first-floor walkout,
where she and her husband, Tony, had their bedroom.
Having suffered flooding last year, Luna knows what
her future probably holds, tearing out the drywall
down to the concrete foundation and then
disinfecting to prevent mold and other growth that
can trigger health problems.
"It will be bleach, bleach, bleach," she said of her
residence on New York Street, which is normally
about 100 feet from the banks of Beaver Brook.
In Methuen, Thomas Wahlers stood on Route 110 and
looked down a hillside at his house, which was
surrounded by at least 5 feet of water from the
Merrimack River, which is normally more than 100
feet away. Most of his neighbors on Armory Street
suffered the same fate.
Wahlers spent $40,000 repairing the damage from last
year's storm and was trying to sell his house
because his career has taken him to New York state.
Now he is looking at thousands more in repairs, he
At the same time, Wahlers wondered whether local,
state, and federal officials were doing enough, or
the wrong thing, to control the flooding of the
Merrimack. He said the water rose much faster this
year, even though the rainfall was substantially
less, giving him less time to prepare.
"Is it manmade or is it Mother Nature that is doing
this?" he asked. "Do they have their act together?"
Timothy J. Duggan, spokesman for the Army Corps of
Engineers for New England, said the Corps'
flood-reduction system can control only 30 percent
of the water flowing through the Merrimack River
watershed in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The rest is controlled by natural forces, he said.
He said that the persistent rains arrived with the
highest tides of the year, essentially backing up
water flow from land to sea, and that water volume
was increased by snowmelt from New Hampshire.
"We can't control the entire [Merrimack] river,"
Duggan said. "Unfortunately, that rain has to go
somewhere; it will seek the lowest point."
Globe correspondents Daniel Muse and Amanda
Bergeron contributed to this report. Material from
the Associated Press was also used.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Patriots Day nor’easter packs
By Kris Olson
Marblehead - A Patriots Day
nor’easter felled trees around town and sent waves
cascading over seawalls Monday. Police shutdown the
causeway leading to Marblehead Neck around 9:30 a.m.
in anticipation of the 11 a.m. high tide, and it
remained closed until well after noon. The receding
waters left behind much debris to be cleaned up,
creating a bit of a wait for a fairly long queue of
cars containing Neck residents trying to get home.
The causeway was again closed Tuesday afternoon as
the nor’easter lingered off the New England coast,
and waves once again battered the coastline and
hurtled seawalls around midnight Tuesday.
Holiday nor'easter slow to leave
The height of the storm, however, was Monday
morning. At Grace Oliver’s Beach, waves displaced a
section of seawall and threw a large chunk of
concrete up into the roadway. At Devereux Beach, one
of a number of vehicles stuck in the parking lot, a
small Toyota truck, had to work so hard in an
ultimately unsuccessful attempt to extricate itself
that one of its front wheels flew off.
The town’s Tree Department was kept busy removing
trees and branches that were blocking roadways. A
felled tree could be seen leaning against a home on
Prospect Street early Monday morning.
The Light Department also had to deal with circuit
issues that led to outages on Beacon Street from the
intersection of Orne and Pond streets up to the
transfer station, and another on Pleasant Street
from Village Plaza down to the YMCA and Starbucks.
Other scattered outages were caused by trees downing
At the State Street landing Monday, a solitary boat,
“Bollocks,” could be seen being tossed to and fro in
the waves, its name no doubt capturing the
sentiments of those eagerly awaiting the true
arrival of spring.
The high waves on the first day of the school
vacation week attracted no shortage of curiosity
seekers to Front Street where folks, many with
digital cameras in hand, clustered around an
apartment building with an apropos sign, “Sea
Spray,” attached, its backyard having been made into
a swimming pool in short order.
Nearby, Front Street residents Dr. Stephen and
Cheryll Saltzman calmly rode out the storm in their
home. Cheryll noted that the home had been built
around 1810 and, but for a window blown out by the
Blizzard of ’78, had stood the test of time. She
noted that she and many of her neighbors had lived
in the area for 30 years or more and thus were
rather nonplussed about nor’easters.
Nonetheless, this storm produced unusually high
waves. The Saltzmans neighbor, Selectwoman Judy
Jacobi, noted this was the first time she could
recall waves depositing rocks and other material up
on her deck, some 20 to 30 feet above the churning
The high tides followed an evening of heavy
downpours and winds gusting to 60 mph. Though the
gray skies were expected to linger through Thursday,
the sun began peeking out from behind the clouds at
around 1 p.m. Monday. However, the wind and rain
returned full force on Tuesday, and the dreary
conditions continued into Wednesday.
The Boston Globe
Friday, April 20, 2007
Breach has Chatham riding a tide
By Beth Daley
ocean cut an opening through Chatham's
Nauset Beach peninsula this week that
grew to about 150 yards by yesterday.
(US Coast Guard Auxiliary)
This week’s fierce northeaster
punched a hole through Nauset Beach peninsula in
Chatham, creating an island with a tiny colony of
summer cottages and leaving other houses vulnerable
to erosion if the breach continues to widen.
On Wednesday, the ocean cut an opening 50 feet wide,
but by yesterday it had grown to about 150 yards,
Chatham harbormaster Stuart Smith said, and the
Atlantic was getting close to a house.
‘‘It’s pretty ominous,’’ Smith said yesterday
afternoon after flying over the area during high
tide. Officials hope the cut will fill in naturally,
but they won’t know if it will for several days. If
the breach continues to widen and deepen, the loss
of the protective beach could put houses on the
mainland at risk of damage from erosion and
‘‘We have to wait and see what happens,’’ he said.
The storm pummeled coastal areas from Cape Cod to
Maine on Sunday and Monday, tipping a house on
Nantucket from a dune onto the beach and breaking
through a barrier beach that had connected
Chappaquiddick to Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. (A
woman killed with her 4-year-old granddaughter on
Monday when their car was swept into the Little
River in Lebanon, Maine, was identified yesterday as
Danvers native Donna Dube, 50.)
In Provincetown, the storm eroded public ways to
beaches; and the town has asked the state to repair
the foot paths by dredging sand that piled up
elsewhere. Scituate’s coast was also battered, but
damage to structures was minimal, a state official
Chatham is often the epicenter for erosion during
storms on Cape Cod. Sitting at the Cape’s elbow, the
community’s beachfronts are in constant flux as
waves deposit sediment at the same time vast amounts
are washed out to sea. The result is a coastline
that no cartographer can keep up with, and boats are
known to get stranded on sandy shoals that appear
Still, significant coastal changes happen only every
few decades. In 1987, a powerful winter storm cut
through the middle of the long, narrow Nauset
barrier beach that had protected downtown Chatham
from the Atlantic, allowing the sea to eventually
wash away 10 mainland houses.
Today, the gap is more than a mile wide. This week’s
breach occurred about 3 miles north of the cut and 6
miles south of the Nauset Beach parking lot in
Yet the ocean gives back, too, most recently during
a Thanksgiving storm that deposited enough sand to
reconnect remote South Monomy Island to mainland
Chatham for the first time in 50 years.
This week, only minor damage was reported to houses
near the new Chatham breach, although Coast Guard,
local and state officials were keeping a close watch
on the area yesterday afternoon.
The breach is flanked by two small settlements. On
the north side, First Village has a dozen or so
summer cottages, including the one that has water
On the south side, Second Village has a dozen
cottages completely cut off from the mainland. Smith
said most of the houses in the villages appear safe
He said he is worried that if the new inlet
continues to grow, houses on the mainland could be
at risk because they will no longer have Nauset
Beach, known locally as North Beach, to protect
Jim Mahala, a coastal geologist with the state
Department of Environmental Protection, said that
normally he would anticipate that the breach would
close because it probably wouldn’t get a large
volume of water flushing through it during each
Most of the water between Nauset Harbor and the
mainland flushes out through the inlet that was
created in 1987. But he said he had not seen the cut
and wanted to see what happens to it over the next
If the breach remains, Mahala said, the town could
ask the state for permission to plug the hole with
sand or possibly protect vulnerable houses with sand
But he cautioned that the area is hard to reach and
that the state would have to make sure no
environmental damage would occur as a result of any
attempt to tame the coastal movement.
Smith and Orleans Park Superintendent Paul Fulcher
said plugging such a gap would be difficult.
‘‘Any time you are dealing with Mother Nature and
the ocean, any work only stalls things,’’ Fulcher
‘‘You are putting off the inevitable. Mother Nature
is strong, and she is going to do what she is going
The Boston Globe
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Soft spot for spring
Sun wakens a weary Boston from its misery
By Sam Allis
Damn the calendar, yesterday was
the first day of spring in Boston. What yesterday
did was talk us back from the ledge.
I know this was because I watched a Little League
game in Olmsted Park. I was entranced by a kid in
left field who did what every Little League left
fielder has done since the beginning of time: pick
his nose, oblivious to events unfolding elsewhere in
the field. That's when I knew it was spring.
It was spring because the diamonds and soccer fields
from Franklin Park to Moakley Field were blurs of
color and motion. Parents chatted with one another
and coaches with an ease that will leave them soon.
It won't be long before they will become deranged
adults, veins throbbing in their foreheads,
screaming maniacally at anything that moves.
There's a name for this. Summer.
It was spring yesterday because a woman lay on her
back on the grass near Jamaica Pond, legs crossed
languidly, reading a paperback held in one hand up
against the sun. Runners and walkers passed by in
legions, the rictus that normally disfigures their
faces replaced by what looked suspiciously like
The Observer has always favored fall above all
seasons for all the right reasons. It is the most
beautiful and the most profound time of the year,
particularly in these parts. But yesterday reminded
me that spring here is, quite simply, a medical
imperative. You let what I call Kafka season go on
long enough, and you're in a locked ward wearing the
Yesterday was the day we emerged from our winter
carapace. I watched men and woman rejoin the human
race like miners exiting a mineshaft, stunned by the
shock of sunlight after a long shift below ground. I
saw folks on the Esplanade remove more pieces of
clothing than is altogether proper to embrace the
healing powers of the sun. Melanoma -- isn't that
the word for eggplant in Italian?
These people reminded me of the Russians we would
see in Life photos during the Cold War: fat,
fishbelly white, and happy as porpoises in the
warmth of Odessa or Havana. And why not? After a
ghastly spring like this one has been, sun trumps
pride. Unleavened bleakness will do that to you.
When the temperature blows through the 70-degree
mark like Corey Dillon coming through the line of
scrimmage, you know it's spring. When the Yankees
are in town, you know it's spring. When the home
team beats said Yankees, you know it's a good
spring. When the home team takes five runs off
Rivera, you know it's heaven.
It was spring yesterday because each sex admired the
other without fear of going up on charges. There was
the woman who looks like a million bucks walking up
Newbury, the zephyrs blowing the winter out of her
soul. There were the shoulders on the hardbody with
a two-day growth jogging past. Women took notice.
Good for them. Once again, everything is possible.
It was spring in Boston yesterday because I saw how
dirty the place is. Sunlight can't remove the filth;
it showcases it. The detritus of a winter litters
our sidewalks and parks, unspeakable stuff that will
remain there until we get rid of it.
It was spring because it was soft. You can't fake
the softness of spring. False spring days try and
fail to replicate it. Those villainous, turncoat
days seduce us with their thin, watery light --
we'll settle for anything in March -- before
destroying us in sleet and punishing rains.
The shock of spring includes the context it brings
us. We forget there is another way to live besides
the mean, mole-like posture we are forced to assume
pretty much from Thanksgiving into April. We miss
how sad our lives are during this period unless we
leave and return.
A couple of week ago, the Observer spent a blissful
week in Arizona. What I found there were blue skies
and 80 degrees. Every day. I had to wear a sun hat
to protect my balding pate. Life, quite simply,
looks different in those conditions.
Your expectations change in that kind of weather, as
they began to do here yesterday. They rise and stay
risen. You expect things to go well and more often
than not, they do. Your worst instincts abate for
I returned home to find faces that had gone from sad
to scary. Bostonians were in dire straits. Friends,
colleagues, strangers -- they had the wall-eyed look
of a spooked horse that made me want to cross the
street. It's not just that these people were down.
They were dangerously down.
All winter, as my mental stability descended to that
of Raskolnikov, I chatted with my cousin, who
winters in Tucson. I love him dearly, and it was he
who was kind enough to lend me his place there. But
there was always a lightness in his voice that
dismantled me, trapped in the bitterness of a Boston
winter. Call it winter pity. We Bostonians wallow in
And yet, finally, we have lurched to spring. The
rain, when it comes, will be warm. The clouds, when
they float in, will be friendly. After a mere week
in Tucson, the scales fell from the eyes of the
Observer. Sometimes, it really is all about the