Today’s main event was a few miles’ worth of walking through the heart of downtown Boston. Part of our journey was structured according to the thoughtfully organized recommendations of The City of Boston. Part of it was freeform whim-based wandering. Once we were done having it both ways and had checked off the highest ranking items on our to-do list, we made a point of concluding the day’s tourism with a few minutes of natural tranquility.
The clearly marked Freedom Trail allowed us to stroll at our own merry pace past several important structures and sights from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Our improvised peeks into paths and turnoffs beyond the red line’s purview afforded us a glimpse into the city beyond the historical. Between the two layers of humanity past and present was the Public Garden, which with the adjacent Boston Common comprises Boston’s less sprawling, more concentrated answer to Central Park. Surrounded on all sides by narrow streets, angry traffic, and scrunched buildings, the Garden and the Common are a binary oasis of greenery, temporary sanctuary from man’s insensitivity to man.
The photo was our view from the Swan Boats, a simple three-dollar paddle-boat pleasure cruise through the lagoon in the center of the Garden. On either end of the lagoon, families of ducks swim to the shorelines and swirl around each other, expecting visitors to spoil them rotten with snacks. At right in the photo is an island upon which the ducks can presumably escape from human intruders for a few moments’ tranquility of their own, except when the Swan Boats skirt gently around the coast. (Bonus points if you can spot both ducks in the photo. One of them appears to have camouflaged himself as a rock. Almost worked.)
A skeptic might view the Swan Boats as a mere kiddie ride. To me it was a blessed chance to lean back in my seat and let someone else do my Boston driving for a few minutes. I can hold my own against other road warriors just fine, but the brief boat ride was much more fun and relaxing — proof positive that not everything in Boston is nonstop tension.