In happier times by the Bike Newton Pavilion

       Saturday is typically a contemplative day for me. I usually attend religious services in the morning, schmooze at the reception afterward while chomping on cheese and crackers, and then nap in the afternoon or take a long walk with my wife and our dog. My spiritual and communitarian morning, alas, has been preempted by Covid 19. But I can still take a nap and walk my dog in safety, Saturday and every day.

               My wife and I have also turned to our bicycles as a way to escape the four walls, however safe, of our home. And so yesterday afternoon, we took an hour-long ride through Newton, journeying both north and south of Beacon Street. Never has cycling been easier in the Garden City. Traffic was light, even on Centre Street by BC Law and Beacon Street by Newton Centre. At the same time, the residents filled the sidewalks, each individual or small group maintaining a safe distance from others. To our delight, we ran into almost a dozen friends, some alone, some in pairs, and some with extended family, strolling by Newton Centre Playground or Crystal Lake or Cold Spring Park. In each instance, we halted some feet away and stopped to chat.

               Talk was animated but generally upbeat. Everyone delighted in the sunny if cool weather, the skies blue and the cardinals chattering in the trees. We spoke of shopping off-hours at times designated for seniors; of paying cleaners and landscapers not to come; of living with adult children home from colleges now shuttered. Though some mentioned acquaintances infected with the coronavirus, none knew of any such person in Newton. Sadly, that will probably soon change.

               For a brief period on a Saturday afternoon, on foot or on bicycle, our anxieties evaporated. Friends could speak to each other in person if not exactly face-to-face. As dire as the pandemic may be, for now we can bike safely, walk in the free air, meet friends by chance, and feel mighty good about the whole thing.  

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