Going down to Springfield!
I went to Springfield today, visiting the city for only the second time this year. I've been so tied down to a strict drug rehab schedule that I simply haven't been able to put together enough free hours in a row to make it worth visiting the city of my birth! Today I took the bus there, with the usual holdover at Veteran's Park in Holyoke. There I unexpectedly ran into Amber, a friend of mine from rehab.
The patients in rehab were divided into three groups. The largest consisted of street folk from the so called urban culture. Drugs are as much a part of their lives as sunshine or air. The second group were people that can't be described as being in any category, they're so blown out on drugs they've lost any real sense of their own identity and have just turned weird. The third group was people like Amber and me, Grateful Dead sort of stoners. We were the smallest group but we stuck together, flower children among burnouts and gangstas, and Amber was a great help to me at times, listening to me and consoling me when I was confused and unhappy and going through withdrawal. She ended up getting thrown out of rehab for fighting with a nurse. I never knew what became of her, and it was great to see her today looking healthy and happy. I took her picture:
Then she took mine:
As you might imagine, being in Springfield for only the second time this year I had a lot of errands to attend to. However, I did take the time to stop in for a few minutes at the Springfield Control Board meeting this morning. City Hall is always a trip!
I climbed the antique spiral staircase to the mahogany chambers where the Control Board meetings are held.
There Board Chairman Chris Gabrielli was presiding over a dull economic development discussion.
The two local officials on the board are Mayor Dom Sarno and City Councilor Bud Williams.
Here's a video scan of the proceedings if you're curious to see who was in the audience.
Later I was by the new federal courthouse, which is almost completed. Notice the two ancient trees in front. The whole building was designed to accommodate those trees, believed to be among the oldest in the city.
At the beginning of construction in 2003 I took this picture of local historian Greg Metzadakis posing by one of the old trees on the otherwise cleared lot.
Here is the exact same tree as it appeared this morning.
One thing I haven't been able to do since my Dad died in December is to go and visit his grave in Saint Michael's cemetery in ol' Pine Point. Saint Rose is the name of the cemetery lane he is buried on.
I was surprised to realize that he was just recently buried!
I had forgotten that here in New England, where the ground in winter is ice-hard, they often wait until spring to bury those, like my Dad, who died in the dead of winter. I also saw that the year of death has not been put next to my father's name. He had his birth year and name put on the stone about ten years ago, leaving the year of his departure to be filled in.
I had to leave the cemetery earlier than I wanted to because a terrible thunderstorm came up. It rained the whole bus ride back, but when I got to UMass the rain stopped and the sun came shining through, creating a beautiful rainbow.
A rainbow reminds us of God's promise that after something bad must come something good.