We just had a perfect Columbus Day family weekend in Nantucket.
And then again this past weekend Boston really put on a show. Yes, it was the Head of the Charles Regatta. Over 9,000 athletes compete in this two day event, and over 300,000 spectators come out to watch the boats duel for fastest times down the three mile course on the Charles River. Boston looked its very best, aglow with the splendor of autumn. That’s a word I hang onto, after twelve years in Britain. ‘Autumn’ resonates. The word choice of Keats. Autumn’s connotations are vast and subtle, much more than just the season of fall.
We were already giddy with victory, here in Boston, following the Red Sox win over Detroit, which made Boston’s home town team American League Champions again, and secured their place in the World Series. From worst to first. Yes, we woke up feeling happy, on a beautiful October morning.
All along the river the spectators gathered to enjoy a day of sport.
It’s a long course for the rowers, and a long course for spectators. I have been at the Head of the Charles Regatta every year for the past eight years, and it seems to me that I always walk for hours, from the T to the riverbank, from bridge to bridge for varied vantage points, from boathouse to boathouse to hospitality tent, to meet up with friends. My friends, The Boy’s friends from high school and college rowing, their parents, past crew tent partners, a combination of the above. But on a weekend like this past one, it is a dazzling delight to walk along the river,
Taking in the thrill of competition, the history of the event and of the different boathouses, the communal energy of the massing crowds, the drop dead beauty of autumn trees in Massachusetts.
The Head of the Charles is a spectacle put on by both Mother Nature and man.
If you are like me, and carry your camera at all times, just in case you see something wonderful,
it is pretty hard not to stop every hundred yards along the riverbank,
to capture another amazing image.
Rowing is a sport of athletic excellence, precise equipment and constant industry. There are always shells being carried to and from the river, or back to their trailers, rowers with arms full of blades, athletes warming up on ergs, teams jogging to keep themselves ready. And that’s when they are not on the water.
This year, in 2013, with warm weather and warm water, and the wind in the right quadrant, seventeen course records were broken on the first day of competition.
“My” teams, from The Boy’s days in College-ville, didn’t win or set new records, but they rowed damn well.
And I spent two days watching the thrills,
and the almost spills, of ferocious competition.
All the while doing homage to the splendors of autumn,
amidst the cathedral of trees.