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Taking in the beauty of the North End

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One morning this summer, I witnessed something extraordinary in my North End.  I could have easily missed it.

It all began around 5 a.m. with one of my kids not feeling well. I was just settled back in bed when I heard "Mom." But everyone was sound asleep. Maybe it was God calling me. I tiptoed downstairs, scrounged around in the dark and found a pair of my son’s socks to wear, got on my shoes, grabbed my keys and left.

As I started down the sidewalk, it started to drizzle. I pressed on, crossing Main Street.  

I stopped just short of Redwood Bridge and leaned against a power pole, feeling conspicuous as I waited. Then it happened.  The clouds, at first bluish-grey, became tinged with a hint of red.

The breeze was chilling and the rain still lightly falling. I stepped down a few feet near some trees and gained shelter.

It was the perfect view: winding river, expansive sky, and tree silhouettes to frame it all. Minute by minute the red glow was brightening, then second by second, until both clouds and water were a coral-red colour. Backing up, I turned to see the swirls of pink forming a canopy over Main Street and the softly illuminated domes of the Orthodox Cathedral.

I was in awe, struck by the incredible beauty surrounding me. A few geese broke the silence with insistent honks. They skimmed the water, landed, and swam toward the sunrise. Red turned to orange.  Golden sunlight began pouring onto the willows on the riverbank and I decided to get that light on my face, too. I walked upriver until the huge ball of fire on the horizon was blinding me.  

Looking away, I noticed a dance going on.  The light hitting the top of the bridge had awoken the pigeons. Flying up from under the bridge, their fluttering wings caught the light as they circled and landed for their front-row sunrise seats.  

The show was nearly over. Colour left most of the sky and shifted to yellowish-white. I walked past the riverboats and up into St. John’s Park, turning just in time to see to see the cross over Holy Family Nursing Home glowing brilliant white against a background of blue.  

I decided to head back through the park, thankful for this pretty green space tucked into the North End. As I passed the cathedral, the smell of Robin’s Donuts wafted in the air. Only dull, grey clouds were left, and I wondered if most people would wake up, look out, and feel gloomy today.

There are many reasons to feel gloomy about the North End, but there is beauty here, too — if we’re awake enough to see it.

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