November morning

You know when you’re driving into southeastern Massachusetts because the land flattens out as you move into the south coastal plain. The Wisconsinan glaciation ground off any protrusions from the underlying metamorphic bedrock, and when it retreated, the land it left behind always appears to me quite a bit flatter than the landscape further north and west.

You see a different mix of trees along the highway, too. This morning as I drove down to New Bedford from Watertown, once I got fairly into the coastal plain, I noticed many more red oaks along the side of the road. They stand out at this time of the year because they are still holding onto their leaves; and the red oak leaves are a particularly brilliant shade of red this year; in some of the trees I could see almost none of the usual brownish tinge to the leaves. The leaves glowed cranberry red in the early morning sun.

I saw just one or two trucks parked along the highway this morning, compared to the half a dozen two weeks ago. Maybe it was because I was driving down a little later in the morning, or maybe it’s because the most of the hunters have bagged their season limit of pheasant and quail and grouse.

You pass the sign that says, “Entering the Buzzard’s Bay watershed: Communities connected by water,” and it’s pretty much all downhill, literally, from there. The traffic is significantly lighter by that point. Even at eight in the morning, there’s plenty of traffic along interstate 93 heading south out of Boston. But by the time I got onto state route 24, around nine o’clock, there were times when I could only see one other car on the highway.

I pulled into downtown New Bedford at quarter past nine. Downtown is pretty empty on weekends at this time of year; the malls along route 6 in north Dartmouth have sucked most of the retail traffic away from here. I got a parking place right in front of the door to our apartment. Later, I walked up to the pharmacy two blocks up the hill. The trees along William Street are sheltered, and still have a few green leaves. I saw a few people. I passed one a man who looked somewhat the worse for wear; he was softly talking to himself, let out a loud belch, chuckled to himself in satisfaction. The other people I passed were just quietly going about their morning errands, headed to the newstand or the pharmacy or Cafe Arpeggio, hunched into their coats against the cold, the coldest morning yet this fall. I took care of my errand at the pharmacy, and headed back home to make a pot of hot tea.

2 thoughts on “November morning

  1. Karen Andersen

    A Poem for the Minister, Walking

    I saw you walking back to
    New Bedford, over the bridge.
    I was driving to Fairhaven to see
    my mother-in-law’s dogs
    because I miss my dog so much
    You had a smile on your face
    (and I think sometimes that your face
    must get sore from all the smiling you do)
    And I thought to myself,
    “He likes it here” and I could see that
    you were getting it, the thing
    I love about where I live.
    The bridge and the endless water and the
    arrogant seagulls and the stinky fisherman
    and the shouting drunks and the sleepy
    junkies and the kids with their
    pants falling off and their confusion
    and the rich people who pay me to fix
    their boats so I can fix my poor boat
    and the never-for-profit artists and the
    desperate musicians and
    the tuesday poets and the politicians.
    It took a long time for me to get here
    and I’ve lived here all my life.
    I hope you’re as glad as I am.
    I hope you keep smiling your zen smile.
    I have faith in all of these things.

  2. Jean

    I *really* like the poem.
    This is from me, the sister/writing prof.
    Nicely rendered portrait of my cool brother.
    And, yeah, he does have a great smile. It’s kind of like a cross between
    Steve Martin, Kermit the frog, and Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit).
    This is a good thing, Dan!

Comments are closed.