Meandering west, my goal was to walk to the Sunday Farm market at Mill No.5 avoiding any path I’ve been on before in my 26 years in the City. I’ll tell you, that is pretty much an impossible undertaking given the canal system, without fording or swimming. Along the way I saw two guys fishing smoking and drinking on a broken wall in the middle of a bubbling canal. I have no idea how they got there. It was impressive. Funny when you walk through mostly desolate streets how much more broke they look, no faces, car radios or folks strolling to distract ones attentions from the walk. So many abandoned storefronts and trash, overgrown and broken poles, missing slats and peeling paint. It will probably get worse. On Central St a preacher was shouting the gospel in Spanish, loud and clear through glass windows covered by sheets. Flocking is frowned upon these days. Next door Cappy’s Copper Kettle was shuttered. Weathered parishioners from across the street selling food advertised on a cardboard sign shouted that I looked hungry. I was. I passed. Walking up abandoned Middlesex Street, towards the new court building, a crowd came into view. I assumed it was folks from the shelter and detoured to avoid droplets and pan handlers. Not today. At Mill No. 5 I was re directed through the tunnel to the farm market being held outside, with nearly a dozen vendors all wearing masks and gloves selling to a small number of supportive folk, a line of two at the empenada truck. It was nice to see a few familiar faces though I couldn’t tell if they smiled back. What’s for dinner? I had each vendor keep the change, generously avoiding handling cash. On the walk home it dawned on me as to whether or not a master planner for the city decided that all new buildings should be some shade of gray somehow complimenting all the brick. If so I would disagree. Especially on a gray day during gray times. The courthouse looks more like a prison to me. Maybe that’s just in my state of mind. It’s still early. Maybe there will be landscaping. It was nice finally to come around the corner and across the familiar lawn of the Tsongas arena–where we catered so many large functions and a couple of weddings, half the grass turning green and a few singing birds oblivious to the condition of our affairs–to see our proud and muraled building looming in the distance. Home. And as I walked the remainder of my way along the river, the second crowd of the day appeared in a column of folks jogging, strolling, walking dogs, and a family of three just standing at the railing, hands in pockets, staring across the river, a good many people happy for a mild day and to be outside.
Entering, I avoided all door knobs with my sleeves, took my “more like eight flights” of stairs, and have since sanitized my hands, then my beets, my locally-raised pork, my garlic scapes and the package of freshly crafted fettuccine: Safety feeling a lot like paranoia.
Time for a hot shower and then to moonstones to help serve today’s shelter meals. A good day, considering.