I almost fell down this morning on the blacktop oval on the floor of the South Common when I slipped on a patch of ice that I didn’t see because I was looking up at the “1874” on the front of the Eliot Church at the top of the northern slope on the Summer Street side of the park. One foot went left, but I adjusted fast and stumbled forward while holding my dog’s leash. He paid no attention. It was the first ice of the season that I’ve noticed—or didn’t notice until it was under me. Frost made the grass slick, too. When Ringo-the-dog and I got to the South Street turn of the oval, a man in a dark parka and knit cap walked to a corner of the small parking lot near the fenced-in pool and began a tai chi routine that he appeared to have done a thousand times before. The slow-motion, dance-like Chinese martial-arts movements go back to the 1600s or earlier. His exercises brought an unexpected elegance to the gritty green space typically marred by litter and liquor empties.
The park was quiet this morning except for a band of raucous crows diving onto the roof of the Rogers School. An SUV police cruiser was tucked in on the roadway next to the basketball courts waiting for a traffic infraction. The blue lights will wake up any distracted driver at 6.30 a.m. City workers this past week raked and removed a ton of leaves in the seasonal pick-up. The sports field that was ravaged last winter by the “Snow Farm” comings and goings did not completely recover despite the new loam and re-seeding. The new grass grew unevenly, and the center section is almost as scrubby as it was in the past. Without any irrigation on the site, the field repair was going to be tough no matter what was tried. Those of us who use the Common regularly and follow city affairs continue to look forward to the complete overhaul of the historic park that has been on hold for several years. The beautiful landscape design by Brown & Rowe architects of Boston that was proposed for the renovation about five years ago will make a huge difference in this part of the city. As the Judicial Center and Hamilton Canal District development projects make progress, the South Common renewal should be brought along in support of the larger revitalization of the Thorndike-Dutton corridor.