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The Boston Marathon was in October for the first time, after missing two Aprils because of Covid.

We ourselves had to hustle a little to get to the Boston Marathon as the new technology told us Erik was running faster than expected and might reach our viewing spot before we could get there. Fortunately, we arrived with a few minutes to spare.

Erik’s final time was a hair over three hours. The photo above is of runners near where we stood. It was a happy day, and although runners had to be vaccinated or show a recent test result, it had a welcome feeling of maybe-life-will-get-back-to-normal-sometime. And the sun was shining.

On a drizzly day, I went up to the Brush Gallery in Lowell to see Meredith‘s lovely exhibit. The artist herself came over from her studio in her rain gear, and I learned some interesting things about how she thinks about color and how she works. The first painting below was my favorite.

On another day, I took photos at Concord Art‘s juried show. The piece using corrugated cardboard was by David Covert. The wax art suggesting a dreamy ocean was Elvira Para’s. Nadya Volicer’s unusual sculpture was made from from paper pulp and charcoal.

I couldn’t resist shooting an urban mural even though it wasn’t far enough along for me to understand what meaning flowers, a fish, a rooster, and a barefoot woman walking on chairs, might convey.

Meanwhile, nature has been making its own art, and there have been many beautiful days to enjoy it.

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The year there was no Boston Marathon.

October 11 is a little different this year. Some people will still be celebrating Columbus Day. (Time, here, explains why some Italians feel positive about the explorer.) Others will recognize Monday as Indigenous People’s Day, honoring the tribes who were here before the arrival of Europeans and the devastation they brought. Rhode Island, for example, plans to use its the PRONK parade to celebrate Native Americans.

And here’s something that hasn’t happened in October before: the Boston Marathon. Erik is running again, so my husband and I will be there, cheering him on.

The Boston Marathon is usually run at the April holiday New Englanders call Patriots Day, the day that in 1775 the “embattled farmers” stood at the North Bridge in Concord “and fired the shot heard ’round the world.”

In 2020, Covid cancelled the Marathon. And 2021 was touch and go, too, until organizers at the Boston Athletic Association decided the pandemic might be under control by October.

Well, it is and isn’t. So there are unusual Marathon protocols in place.

Says the BAA, “Entrants in the 125th Boston Marathon, scheduled for Monday, October 11, will need to either provide proof of vaccination or produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to participate in the fall race. It is strongly recommended that all entrants, staff, and volunteers are vaccinated. Masks will not be required while running the 26.2-mile course, but will be enforced on participant transportation and in other areas in accordance with local guidelines.

“We understand that COVID-19 related-travel restrictions may prevent many international participants from toeing the line in Hopkinton. In recognition of this unique and extenuating circumstance, any Boston Marathon participant who resides outside of the United States can move their entry to the virtual race and be refunded for the difference.

“Prior to bib number pick-up, Boston Marathon participants will be required to either produce proof of a complete vaccination series of a World Health Organization-certified vaccine or produce a negative COVID-19 test, which will be administered on site in a Boston Marathon medical tent.”

According to the Boston Globe, “there will be 14 former champions in the field, with a combined 32 first-place Boston finishes, including two-time men’s winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, as well as countryman Asefa Mengstu, who has the fastest personal best in the field and the 23rd-fastest marathon ever at 2:04:06.

“The women’s field features nine sub-2:22:00 marathoners, including Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese, whose 2:19:36 personal best ranks fastest in the field. Melese will have some tough competition from fellow Ethiopian Mare Dibaba, the 2015 world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist.”

If an aspiring runner hasn’t run the required number of previous races at the required times, she or he can still participate if sponsored by a charity and willing to raise money for it. The Globe says, “There are 41 charity organizations, with 2,090 runners, participating. Over the past 32 years, more than $400 million has been raised for charity.”

And here’s an interesting note: “For the only time in its history, the Boston Marathon will take place on Oct. 11 — which is recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day in cities and towns on the route.

“Patti Catalano Dillon, a three-time Boston runner-up and a member of the Mi’kmaq tribe, will be interviewed at Fan Fest Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. about setting the American marathon record at Boston 40 years ago. She also will serve as an official starter.

“A ceremony will be held Oct. 8 to commemorate the 85th anniversary of Ellison Brown’s first of two marathon titles. A banner will be presented to the grandchildren of Brown, who was a member of the Narragansett tribe.”

More at the Globe, here.

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Hours in an icy rain madly cheering family and strangers along with four grandchildren under the age of five. Erik made his best time, coming in under three hours. John looked on the web and found that Erik’s sister was the fourth woman from Denmark to cross the finish line yesterday, and Erik’s cousin was the fourth woman from Sweden. Erik’s mother waved a makeshift Swedish flag, which bled onto everything in the rain but elicited delight from unknown Swedes who also were running in the Boston Marathon.

Mile 19 in Newton was our meeting place, next to the hot-dog vendor. Suzanne got stuck on the wrong side, but the police knew this would happen and had little cards already printed out to tell people how to drive to the other side. She got there in time.

The day was a grand accomplishment for all concerned, not excluding four cold, soggy, cheering children.

runners-042015-Newton

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Late Sunday night, Kevin, a colleague who is a bicyclist, completed the Midnight Ride.

It’s an event that started a few years ago when one guy suggested to some fellow bikers that they bike the Boston Marathon route the night before the big event.

Stacey Leasca of the Los Angeles Times has the story.

“For the last six years, the Midnight Marathon Bike Ride has covered the Boston Marathon course the night before the race, as a way for more Bostonians to take part.

” ‘It was a way for me, who is not a runner, to connect with Boston, to connect with all this marathon energy,’ said Greg Hum, the ride’s originator.

“Although the Boston Athletic Assn., which oversees the Boston Marathon, has never officially sanctioned the ride, it has become a celebrated tradition to help kick off Marathon Monday.

“The night before the 2013 race, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Assn. even provided riders with a special commuter train to get them to the start of the route.

“This year, however, race officials and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency asked that the ride be canceled, and the MBTA did not offer its Midnight Marathon train. …

“But the Midnight Marathon had momentum that he and the agencies could not derail.

“Once word spread that there would be no train from downtown Boston to the starting line, riders began organizing carpools, vans, trucks and even a few buses via social media to help get them to the start.”

Kevin said Hum really wasn’t an organizer, just a guy whose idea grew, and he didn’t know any way to call it off. So it happened. There were people cheering along the route, even that late. Kevin got home at 2 a.m., exhilarated. His toddler woke him bright and early on Patriots Day, the day closely associated with another midnight ride.

More here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Here’s a lovely story by Bella English at the Boston Globe.

Like many other people who feel helpless after a tragedy, illustrators of children’s books wanted to do something useful last April 15 and were delighted to be asked to give their talents.

“After the Boston Marathon bombings,” writes English, “Joe and Susan McKendry of Brookline wanted to do something. …

“Joe, an artist who teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design, thought he could auction off a couple of paintings he did for his first book, ‘Beneath the Streets of Boston: Building America’s First Subway.’

“But then he realized he had something more valuable: connections to other artists. Why not make it a group project? We Art Boston was born, with dozens of artists contributing paintings or illustrations to the cause: the emergency and trauma fund at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“The fund helps children and families get the treatment they need ‘when faced with a tragedy,’ says Stacy Devine, an associate director with the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust. What began as a response to the Marathon bombings expanded to include all traumatic events. …

“The McKendrys also wanted to hold a community event for children to get more directly involved. On Oct. 20, We Art Boston is hosting a family day on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, right across from the New England Aquarium.

“All of the donated artwork will be framed and on exhibit, and people can bid on them through volunteers who will place the bids online using iPads. Several of the illustrators will be there and will sign books or, for a donation to the cause, draw portraits of stuffed animals for children who bring their favorite one along.”

More.

Henry Cole’s “Penguin Pride” (l8-by-12 inches, framed) has a value of $550 and a suggested bid of $250.

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I learned something new about gratitude today.

It seems that years ago the people of Boston sent emergency aid to Nova Scotia, and now every November, Nova Scotia sends Boston a Christmas tree.

Geoffrey Agombar writes in Canada’s Annapolis County Spectator, “All Nova Scotians are familiar with the legend of Boston’s speedy and heroic support when just week’s before Christmas 1917 two ships collided in Halifax Harbour leaving 2000 dead, thousands injured, and flattening surrounding buildings. Every year since 1971, Nova Scotia has sent a big thank you card to the city in the form of a 12-16 metre tall Christmas Tree.” More.

Canada Online has a story by Susan Munroe: “For more than 40 years it’s been a Christmas tradition for the province of Nova Scotia to ship one of its biggest and best Christmas trees to Boston to thank the people of Boston for the emergency assistance they provided after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. Relief from Boston was the first to arrive the day after the horrendous explosion which killed 1,900 people and wounded another 9,000. The New Englanders were also the last to leave.

“The 2012 Christmas tree is a 70-year-old, 15-metre (50-foot) white spruce donated by Paul and Jan Hicks from Jordan Bay, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia. On November 13, hundreds of children from local elementary schools attended the Christmas tree cutting ceremony, where Nova Scotia storyteller Bruce Nunn read from his book Buddy the Bluenose Reindeer and the Boston Christmas Tree Adventure.

“The tree was loaded onto a flatbed truck and made its way to Boston. It arrived on November 16, and was escorted by the Boston Police Department to the Boston Common where it is being installed. The Christmas tree will be the focal point of the annual Boston Common Tree Lighting Event on November 29. The ceremony will be televised and is expected to draw a live crowd of about 30,000. The ceremony will feature two performances from the Nova Scotian percussion ensemble Squid, and remarks from [a representative of the ailing] Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the Deputy Premier of Nova Scotia, Frank Corbett. The RCMP and Santa Claus will be on hand, and there will be fireworks too.”

Update 4/20/13 — After the Boston Marathon tragedy, Nova Scotia is making a $50,000 donation to Massachusetts General Hospital. Read.

Photograph: The Spectator

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