Ever been to the beach on a cold, rainy day? It can be brutal. It can also, every so often, surprise you with a microcosm of serenity. Finding myself in South Boston on a wet afternoon, I stopped by Carson Beach before heading home. Some Greater Boston residents balk at the mention of South Boston beaches. Too urban. Too gritty. Too close to the airport. The water is freezing. The harbor is polluted. But when I visit the 5 mile walkable, cyclable stretch of shoreline, I see an intriguing, beautiful landscape. There are hills, fortresses, turn of the century pavilions. Views of the islands, the Atlantic Ocean and the city skyline surround. There is some difficult history in this part of town. And there are people eager to forget it, enjoying their evenings after a day of work, watching planes take off over the water. Boston-Reykjavic: 5 hours. Boston-Dublin: 6 hours. Boston-Paris: 7 hours. The rest of the world is really not that far.
But on a rainy day in March no one was watching the planes take off or sitting on the beach. The shoreline paths lay abandoned, strewn with wet sand from the latest storm.
On the boardwalk I saw an off duty policeman jogging. I saw a young woman pushing a baby carriage, adjusting the cover when the rain began coming down harder. I saw an elderly man get out of a parked car and stand in the dunes looking straight ahead, then get back in the car and drive away.
Closer to the water, it suddenly grew warmer and the wind quieted down. I stepped out onto the sand and took a few strides forward. The harbor looked still as glass. There was a breeze behind me, but not ahead of me, as if the boardwalk served as some sort of microclimate border that day.
A solitary boat stood, tilted, in the shallow water. Later I learned it had spent all winter in that same spot. As I studied its curious presence, the air was still, almost stuffy. This could be a summer sunset.