Jun 12, 2013

Lost keys

Out on a lunch time walk in Boston's North End, it's historic Italian district. One of those 'just right' days when searing sun and soothing breeze perform alchemy.

Prince Street
The lone bakery on Prince Street made up for its solitude by emitting  stronger-than-usual aromas of fresh baked bread, still-warm pizza and cloying sweet confectionery treats. An aromatic bouquet of confusion that comforted just the same. Older restaurants on Salem Street showed off green, flowery window boxes overflowing with spring abundance.

Salem Street
Token silverware embedded in the pavement by their entrances caught and reflected the sunshine and the old-world traditions of their founders. Places with the words 'trattoria' or 'famiglia' in their name.

Outside Polcaris Coffee at the intersection of Salem and Parmenter Streets, elderly Italian men were planted in sidewalk lawn chairs across from each other.
     They conversed and communed in contented yells and old country dialects over a too-loud transistor radio that no-one seemed to mind. The din seemed fitting somehow. Naked folds of aged, leathery skin (exposed to the welcome sun) were also less marginally offensive when the possessor of said skin tossed out gratuitous, grinning greetings to all and sundry. 'Bon giorno!'. Even the occasional 'Bellisima!' - always guaranteed to make me smile, regardless of the patent untruth.

Boston Public Library: feed the mind
Tourists blocked the narrow sidewalk outside Polcari's, waiting to self-serve the Italian Ice stored in an old wooden pail just outside the corner door. I've seen this same wooden contraption get an airing for 12 consecutive summers. I often wonder what flavor it imparts to the cold slush inside it...if it doesn't taste a bit of history and sunshine in addition to the lemon or raspberry signatures of summer. One of these days, I'll find out. Others held up traffic as they paused to consult their map of the Freedom Trail or discuss lunch options, loudly and leisurely. On another day I might have been tempted to break up the annoying knot by snapping ''Ernestos for pizza, Joe Tecces for pub food and Famiglia Giorgio's for pasta. Modern Pastry for dessert, not Mikes. Now for the love of God move-along and let the rest of the world pass!". Well, perhaps I might not actually say all that but I'd think it. It would start up a slow simmer of resentment at the intrusion into my precious half-hour away from my work desk, shelving all rational thoughts of the equal rights of all North End visitors and the inescapable fact that I myself am a foreigner and transplant - regardless of any innate feeling of belonging my long residence here might invoke.

Parmenter Street
Not today though. Because as I was crossing North Washington street from my building to enter the North End, this is what I saw at the crosswalk.

Keys on a 'walk' post
How carefully someone had tucked away those lost keys. They might have left them where they were found. I know I probably would have opted for in situ,  in the hope that someone retracing their steps would find it easily. But someone had paused and thought about the chances of them being run over perhaps, or knocked aside and lost beyond recovery. Then they'd made the effort of tucking them safely away in a visible spot where their chances of recovery were improved.
                The North End sights, sounds and smells that I'd become careless about from 12 years of exposure returned to me today. The wrought iron balconies far above the streets seemed to march in greater elegance and the sidewalk bricks assumed a glow. Old men, sidewalk cutlery and an aged wooden pail of Italian Ice called out in cheerful cacophony.

Someone had cared. Someone, somewhere always cares.


  1. AnonymousJune 11, 2013

    Awwww .. Bui .. such a moving piece .. welled up heart <3
    ~ Suj

  2. Beautiful. And I'm going to have a look around here now - I'm all about Silver Linings :D

    1. Thanks Lizzi. Glad to find a fellow (fellee?) silver-lining-er.