As Good as it Gets in Boston

My 13-year-old son Nathaniel and I just returned from a week in Boston. He wanted to see the Copa America soccer game between Peru and Brazil and a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. This trip turned out to be literally as good as it could possibly get.

The soccer match was exciting, with Brazil dominating but unable to score and Peru winning on a disputed goal, that in the replay certainly looked to have been pushed in by a hand. The game was played at distant Foxborough, and the chartered bus returned us to the Park Street subway station just in time for, quoting Pat Metheny’s famous piece, the last train home.

The Sox and Orioles were tied for first and both used their best starters (David Price and Chris Tillman) and fireball closers (Craig Kimbrell and Zach Britton). It was a true pitchers’ duel, with Baltimore winning 3-2. The weather was perfect – a warm clear evening. One can endlessly debate the merits of Skydome versus Fenway, in particular the presence or absence of a roof in a cold climate. What impressed me about the fans at Fenway, in comparison to Toronto, is that there was little booing and no heckling. Perhaps the august setting brings out the better angels of their nature.  And I also got to watch the full “Sweet Caroline” pantomime.

We went to see the Museum of Fine Arts and Gardner Museum twice, the second time at Nathaniel’s request. We appreciated the diversity of the BMFA’s collection, in particular its collections of the impressionists and John Singer Sargent. The good as it gets moment was visiting the Gardner Museum on an amazingly sunny morning. The Gardner has heavy draperies, dark walls, and many northern European paintings that, frankly, I find gloomy. I learned that Mrs. Gardner preferred Italian painters, but considered it her civic duty to diversify her collection.

The sunlight flooded the courtyard and many of the rooms. The steel beams in the glass roof cast geometric shadows. The light made the green palm leaves in the courtyard virtually fluorescent. These palms reminded me of Dale Chihuly’s bright green glass tree in the Museum of Fine Arts that we had seen moments earlier. We wandered around the Gardner, simply enjoying the light. I’ve selected one of our photos as the image for this post.

As a political junkie, Nathaniel was impressed by the exhibit on Jack Kennedy’s life and presidency at the Kennedy Library. He wondered about why some red states in the 1960 election now are decidedly blue, and vice versa. And he appreciated the perspective on events like the Cuban Missile Crisis, desegregation of southern schools, and March on Washington that he has begun to read about. I enjoyed the recreation of life as it felt in the Fifties and early Sixties. We both had mixed emotions as we took in the view of the harbor and ocean from the atrium that concludes the exhibit.

We stayed in a b-and-b near Harvard, so walked back and forth through the campus to the Harvard T station. I shared quite a few memories of my years at Harvard with Nathaniel and, as this is a post about events that are as good as it gets, I’ll conclude in the courtyard of the beautifully renovated Fogg Gallery. Referring to my previous post, the courtyard was where the Phi Beta Kappa luncheon was held before my graduation. That, too, if I recall, was a wonderfully sunlit day.

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