Monday being the stand-in observance for Patriots Day (April 19), and since the day was sunny even if windy, my wife and I took a walk through the Back Central neighborhood. We were pulled along for the first half by our enthusiastic Boston Terrier who could not have more enjoyed the field trip, especially when we met other interested dogs safely behind their yard fences.
Patriots Day is one of those state holidays that is more or less observed, depending on your employer. We were fortunate to have the day off. The neighborhood was fairly quiet since most of the people who live there seemed to be at work or maybe were sleeping late. School was out in Lowell, so some kids were out and about, one group fascinated by a lime-green mini-motorcycle that a boy about 12 years old showed off near Hosford Square.
The spring landscape is changing fast. One hot day, and the pink blossoms on trees pop where they were not the day before. We’re still in pre-season of the Garden League in what I like to call The Garden District. It looked like Old Timers’ Day on Monday as we hiked up and down the narrow hilly streets. The ancient and honorable sentinels had begun the long steady work of cultivating for another year. We saw at least one senior gardener on each street we walked, a man here, a woman there, all of them 70 or better, tending to a patch of yard, a string of pots waiting for seedlings, a vine that needed pruning, a flower box to be cleared of brown leaves. They were brooming out winter’s cobwebs and checking to see what damage the deep-freeze months had left.
Already, the earth around the houses was yielding color. Not only were the side and back yards green, but more often than a visitor would expect the narrow sun-favored frontages along sidewalks boasted clusters of cheerful yellow daffodils or red tulips. At a fresh-looking condo complex near Newhall Street, young guys from the grounds crew or an outside landscaping company spruced up the parking lot and distributed mulch.
If there was a minuteman-type statue in Back Central, it would have to be something like the iconic painting “American Gothic” but revised a little so that the pairing would be a life-sized, strong-looking older couple who could be of Portuguese lineage standing with a rake and a watering can.