Tremont St. and St. Alphonsius St.

Thursday, December 9th, 12:05pm

As I walk along Tremont St. from the direction of Brigham Circle, straight ahead I see a hearse, bedecked with flowers, preparing to lead a funeral train around the corner and down St. Alphonsius St. A police car bursts out into the intersection and parks diagonally right in the middle. The cop jumps out and stops traffic in every direction, as the hearse takes its right turn and the funeral march begins. The line of cars is seemingly endless and now traffic is backed up in every direction.

The police stop traffic as a funeral procession rounds the corner.

After some time, the cop hops back in his car and zooms toward the front of the line.  With careful timing a second officer immediately takes over his position, ensuring no interruption in duty. Finally, the last car makes the turn and a third police car vacates the intersection. No time to linger and help clean up the mess. Cars speed loudly through the intersection with pent-up aggression. Tremont St. soon clears up, but the unfortunate souls on St. Alphonsius remain backed up for some time at the mercy of the short light cycle they face.

With the funeral gone, the walk signals now beep loudly to announce that it is safe to cross Tremont St. Church bells chime from the high towers of Mission Church, just up the road. I remember that this is where Ted Kennedy’s funeral was held a summer ago. As I recall, it was pouring rain that day. Today, the sun shines bright and blinding in a perfectly clear blue sky. But at this bitterly cold lunchtime, the sun provides no warmth. My instantly condensing breath clouds my view. The pedestrians nearby seem generally undeterred by the cold and well-prepared with their hoods pulled up and their hats and gloves pulled on tight.

Hearing ambulances from the direction of the Longwood Medical Area, I glance down St. Alphonsius St. toward Huntington Ave. Directly behind me stands a brick high-rise apartment building called the Longwood. A banner across the wrought-iron fence reads “Now Renting.” I notice these high-rises are germane to the North side of Tremont St, which functions as a distinct architectural border between two neighborhoods. The south side of the street is lined with archetypal Boston triple-deckers that wind up St. Alphonsius St. onto Mission Hill.  To my right I hear coins rattling. I turn to see the bundled meter maid emptying a parking meter into her cart.  I don’t envy her task on this day.  It is time for me to seek warmth.

The towers of Mission Church through the trees.

The view up St. Alphonsius St. toward Mission Hill