A Long View of a Wide Horizon
By Daniel Byrnes
I was just stepping onto the blue trail behind Houghton’s Pond when we first heard the news about the bombing. It was an impossibly beautiful Marathon Monday. For once, the unofficial start of spring in Boston actually felt like spring. With the day off, some of my friends and I decided we should spend it hiking up to Buck Hill. Like most of you, I carry the modern world in my pocket with me wherever I go. Phones of debatable intelligence buzz and chirp and tweet and carry the sorry word of sorrow from every corner of the world. It was no different on the afternoon of April 15th, except it was different. This new tragedy, this further obliteration of innocence had happened here in Boston, in my home.
The news stopped us in our tracks. Should we go on with our hike, or should we get to a TV and try to make sense out of the frantic bits of information coming in? Where do you go when there is a tragedy and there is nothing you can do? I know something about that; I was a sophomore at NYU eleven and a half years ago. I remember watching rubble covered fire trucks screaming up 3rd Avenue as I watched in mute, impotent horror. It felt like the years between those two days had collapsed as I looked at the trail head. Finally I made the call, “Let’s go on the hike, we’ll have the rest of our lives to know about the bombing.” So we went up the trail. We didn’t talk much, and we hiked faster than we usually do. The sounds of sirens began to withdraw as we went deeper into the woods. The woods were so lovely, the branches a green haze of budding leaves giving a constant confirmation of the rebirth of spring, even as we stole glances at our news feeds as we hiked.
Soon we reached the crest of Buck Hill. The pace we set had worked up a sweat, and our muscles were sore. When we reached the top of the hill, a cool breeze moved through the scrub brush. It was so clear up there on the hill, the horizon stretched in every direction for miles. It took my breath away. I’ve seen that view countless times before but it felt like I was seeing it for the first time. I could see the whole state of Massachusetts stretched out before me. On the distant Western horizon, I could see the peak of Mount Greylock; the long black snake of the Mass Pike winding across the state; and I could see Boston, my city, and it was still standing. I could see the whole state from that spot on Buck Hill on that terrible day, and I was struck by how beautiful my home is. From this quiet spot in the Blue Hills, I found the strength to go back down the hill and face the world.
Photo credit: Mark Lotterhand