Archive for June, 2010

Brush Hill Thrills

June 2nd, 2010

Small treasures abound on Brush Hill Road, just into Milton. Gorgeous blossoms are showing off now, if you’re slow enough.

I bike up the hill regularly but don’t join the many walkers and few runners often. There are no sidewalks and SUV seems the ride of choice on the narrow road — often at zippy speeds.

Heading down yesterday toward Mattapan Square, I skirted the east side and saw lots of wild flowers. I confess that I don’t notice or don’t slow enough biking to enjoy them.

xspikesFirst was the mystery. I’m not familiar with the bushy plant (about five feet high) with the clusters of purple and yellow flowers. I didn’t learn that one in my gardening classes and can’t find it in my books. I’ll keep at it and update this when I ID it.

Down at the bottom at Truman Parkway was a flashback to my youth, a honeysuckle. They are not as common up here as in Virginia. They aren’t as large either. A single bush was on the Parkway, but that was enough to recall junior high gym.

The eighth-grade PE teacher I had was into running. He had been a college and then for a few years professional soccer player in Germany. Burning lungs indicated virtue and ambition to him. He’d have us out on the 220 track all fall and spring. We ran in bunches of, as I recall, six at a time. There was lots of downtime and recuperation between sprints or miles.

The whole fence beside the track was greened with honeysuckle. It separated the baseball field from the track and was maybe 100 yards long.

We’d sit and suckle honeysuckle. We had a bit of epicurean chatter too. Was the yellow flowers’ nectar sweeter than the whites’? Did the flower from one bush taste any different from that of another? We also enjoyed the shade.

I’ve never seen Yankees sitting and enjoying honeysuckle. Surely Northerners do somewhere, if not beside a four-lane road.

Back on Brush Hill, another subtle treasure was a large number of nightshade in bloom. nightshadeThe berries were not yet ripe, but on their way. The petals though were the typical airy lavender of the family.

These are in the belladonna and deadly nightshade group. The berries and leaves, in particular, are toxic. While we learn as kids to leave this plant alone, but don’t shy away from many of its close relatives. Potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants are kin. Their leaves too have poisons, even as we enjoy the fruiting parts of some and the roots of others.

It’s a good season to be at a 4MPH pace on the roadside.

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Phantoms of Fairmount

June 1st, 2010

This time, the female crossed my path and this time I had a camera. This smaller and more speckled coyote trotted 15 or so feet away perpendicular to my path. By the time I pulled the camera from my pocket and activated its lens (maybe four seconds), she had disappeared into backyards.

She now is in the class of phantoms of Fairmount Hill. I’ve never seen the mysterious driver of blue-and-white POLICE 1, Superintendent-in-Chief Dan Linskey, either. Perhaps I have more reason to believe in Hyde Park coyotes.

The larger male coyote has trotted down the busy Summit Street, on the same path the #24 bus travels every 20 minutes. He also seems fearless.

She popped out of Red Pine Road heading South to North crossing Milton Avenue. Without losing a quick step, she looked at me from a pickup truck length away. I seemed just another mammal walking the streets from her lack of reaction. She neither approached nor shied nor changed speed. From their reputation, she may have been cat hunting. This is the season when she should have pups to supply.

phantomThe hill has several wooded areas as Hyde Park and Milton share space. Right up the street is where the former restaurant king Howard Johnson had his mansion on what is now overgrown trees and brush. Neighbors are pretty sure the den is there.

As for the top cop, I may have to ring his bell to make sure he exists. Unlike the coyotes, he’s never revealed himself to me.

The first person we meet when we moved from JP told us what others have iterated. If you see him at all, he is scurrying between his patrol car and his house. They say (ooooo) that he never speaks to anyone.

I surmise that he considers it good politics and policing not to buddy up with locals. He might also just be shy, although years ago, he was Tom Menino’s driver; he can’t be devoid of people skills, at least one on one.

Daily on bike, in car or by foot, I pass his house three lots away, but in nine months, he remains a shadow. As for the coyotes, I can’t show you a picture, you’ll have to trust me that they are not really shadows.

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