A Better-Than-Usual Walk Around My Hood

It was hot as hell two Fridays ago, as in 90°F (32°C), a temperature that usually makes me want to stick to the comfort of my air-conditioned house. But come 2:30 PM I was getting restless. And so, grabbing a cap to shield my hair-challenged pate and a pair of sunglasses to make me look like a movie star, I unlocked the front door and stepped outside. Ordinarily I don’t particularly like walking around my neighborhood, part of a suburb a few miles from Philadelphia, because I’ve seen it a million times and because there’s nothing much here that’s going to knock your socks off. But what the hell  . . . I needed to stretch my legs.

And stretch them I did on that tail-end day of June. For an hour. Under a summer sun that was sending down heat rays as if there were no tomorrow. Luckily, it turned out that there was a tomorrow. If there hadn’t been, then I wouldn’t be at my writing station right now, pecking out this ultra-fascinating tale.

What with the heat, a lesser man might have decided quickly that he’d made the wrong decision, that he’d be better off back inside his cozy house where he could resume reading the collected works of I. C. Fairley-Farr, the all but forgotten British existentialist whose philosophy is best summed up by a simple phrase. To quote him: Life is for living, water is for drinking, and . . . shit, where’d I put my distance glasses?

Stumps I, II And III

But on that day I wasn’t a lesser man. Nope, for some reason the brutal ball of fire in the sky wasn’t bothering me. And for some reason, right from the get-go, I found myself enjoying the walk. Why, only half a block from my house I noticed something that on another day might not have registered at all — three neat and concise tree stumps on the lawn of a church. Transfer them to the grounds of an art museum, give them a title such as Stumps I, II And III, and they’d gain esteem as a fine piece of minimalist outdoor sculpture. See? There’s always an alternative way of looking at things.

And how about the township park and playground behind the church? There wasn’t a soul there, not even on the basketball courts. Yeah man, I had the neighborhood to myself!

Well, not really. Still, during the walk I came upon only 25 or so people, many of them unloading this or that from their cars, and not a one of them out for a walk. And I crossed paths with but one dog. I exchanged hellos with its master who, positioned on his home’s front path, was eyeing me with mouth slightly agape. It must have been my sunglasses. In them, I’m a ringer for George Clooney. Or so I’ve dreamt.

Suburban jungle

Block after block I wandered along, going downhill on some and uphill on others. My area is seriously hilly, almost San Francisco-worthy in places, and the upward climbs got me decently sweaty. One thing I realized was that I should have a much better working knowledge of the layout of my hood than I do, because I trekked upon a couple of streets whose names I didn’t even vaguely recognize. And I also realized something that I knew but hadn’t experienced in a healthy while. To wit, parts of my neighborhood are very, very heavy with trees and other foliage. Those blocks are a suburban jungle, a dreamscape in shades of green.

Tiger Lillies

On the other hand, most of my hood’s blocks, though cute in a comforting way, are kind of vanilla in appearance, including the street on which my house sits. But I found myself getting into the vanilla, grooving on those blocks’ occasional good-looking flower beds and other decorative touches that homeowners here and there have added to increase their residences’ wow factor. When I passed one abode with a fine grouping of Tiger Lillies, naturally I stopped to admire them. And to take their picture. I couldn’t have done otherwise, seeing that the house in which I grew up, forever ago on Long Island (near New York City), was blessed with large patches of Tiger Lillies. My heart since then has maintained a very soft spot for that variety of flora.

And the walk turned out to be a learning experience too. Only two blocks from my house are extremely tall metal towers. I’ve lived in my neighborhood for 13 years, yet I’ve never known what the heck those towers do, if anything. For all I knew, they might have been decommissioned years ago after serving one purpose or another.

As it turns out, they are important pieces of equipment. They transmit messages to and among personnel of police departments, fire departments and 911 emergency systems. I know that now because, early in my walk, there was a worker at the towers as I approached them. I stopped to ask him what the towers’ functions are, and he told me. Yes, opportunity had presented itself, and I took advantage of it. Too bad I haven’t applied that principal consistently over the course of my life. Oh well.

As far as I can recall, this walk was the longest, time-wise, that I’ve ever taken in my neighborhood. I don’t expect my next venture into the hood, whenever that may occur, to resonate with me as satisfyingly as this one did. But that’s okay. I returned home mentally refreshed, feeling pretty chipper and somewhat seeing the brighter side of life. Not every walk is a keeper, but this one was.

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75 thoughts on “A Better-Than-Usual Walk Around My Hood

  1. gerard oosterman July 9, 2018 / 12:14 am

    Decades ago I too lived in an area that was peopled by living in single houses. The street scape was mainly deserted if not desolate as well. I now live in a denser area where one does come across more people. I avoid suburbs now. I like high-rise and busy streets. I sometimes wish for a landscape or even a beach scape stretching out for miles. This soon passes. Within minutes I miss the cafeterias and the sounds of people. I do like tiger lilies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 1:09 pm

      Hello, Gerard. I know what you mean. I’m in the burbs, but I like cities a lot. I live near Philadelphia, and I spend quite a bit of time there.

      Like

  2. Candice July 9, 2018 / 1:06 am

    My neighbourhood walks almost always provide me with some interesting sights. Not all of them are blog post worthy, but they are enjoyed all the same. Thank you for taking me along on your stroll.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Glen available July 9, 2018 / 2:52 am

    I’s be interested to read a sequel post centered on a nocturnal walk around the same neighbourhood with maybe a little Hitchcock ‘looking over your shoulder’ aspect to it – though I’m guessing it’s not really that typre of ‘hood.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 1:11 pm

      Hi Glen. I’ve taken only a few walks in my neighborhood in the dark. Most were around Christmas, and I walked around looking at the lights on the houses. In fact, I wrote one or two stories about that. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. cath July 9, 2018 / 5:12 am

    Do any of us know what’s on our doorsteps? Nice post, reminds me of how much I take for granted, whizzing past our neighbourhood in the car.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 1:14 pm

      Right, going for leisurely walks in our neighborhoods is often a good thing to do. Thanks a lot for reading about my neighborhood, Cath. See you —

      Liked by 1 person

  5. sniderjerry July 9, 2018 / 6:34 am

    Hot, I tell you, Hot. I went for a walk in my neighborhood and saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking. Then I saw a lay hanging t shirts on a cloths line and she was putting sunscreen on the shirts. Glad you had a good walk, thanks for taking us with you. Have a good day. Jerry

    Liked by 3 people

  6. tylerus July 9, 2018 / 7:28 am

    Thank you for painting a lovely picture of your neighborhood.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. joyce hamilton July 9, 2018 / 8:03 am

    Glad you enjoyed your walk. I love walking at the trail at end of Terwood and 63. Beautiful walk!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 1:18 pm

      Right, that’s a good one. Have you been to Forbidden Drive recently, in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy? That’s a winner.

      Like

  8. Cindy Frank July 9, 2018 / 8:04 am

    “Those blocks are a suburban jungle, a dreamscape in shades of green.” Lovely!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. C C Cedras July 9, 2018 / 10:09 am

    It’s been more than 25 years since I lived in a neighborhood where I could walk and enjoy the homes and lawns that normally pass by quickly in the commute to work and back. Thanks for sparking some old memories about those ambles that allow you to see your world in close up.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Robert Parker July 9, 2018 / 11:00 am

    I drove by a tall metal tower like that for years, that I knew was owned by the Coast Guard. We’re about 300 miles from the ocean, and it wasn’t even on one of the Finger Lakes. So I figured, people around here mostly seem to like towing their boats, slowly, slowly, down Route 96, and the tower must be for them, a beacon for the highway boaters. (When the tower was disassembled, I finally learned it had been part of the LORAN system (radio navigation for boats and planes) which has been replaced by GPS.
    I. C. Fairley-Welle but don’t always pay attention to what’s around me, this was a good post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 1:23 pm

      It’s surprising, I guess, how many of us aren’t as aware as we should be about what’s on our doorsteps. I, for one, am pretty guilty of that.
      See you, Robert.

      Like

  11. vprofy July 9, 2018 / 11:44 am

    I recall a photo assignment, to shoot within a small square. What can you see differently. I live along the Delaware Canal so do quite a few local walks. Sometimes into town, sometimes away from, always new things to see, a new perspective, Thanks for sharing your local explore.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 1:25 pm

      Victor, I’m glad that you stopped by to write your thoughts. It’s always good to hear from you.
      The Delaware Canal is real nice. I drove along it earlier this year on my way to Easton, PA.

      Like

  12. Ann Coleman July 9, 2018 / 3:11 pm

    Sometimes, we just need to see our own neighborhood with new eyes to truly appreciate it! And I love the way you write about the ordinary things in life in such a funny way. You’re right, stick those tree stumps in an art museum, and you’ve got an exhibit that people would pay to see. Too bad the church didn’t think of that…

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Anonymous July 9, 2018 / 4:36 pm

    I’m lying beside my little son with the phone in my hand, pretending that I’ve fallen asleep, with the hope that he’ll soon be doing the same. All of a sudden he says:
    – your shoulder is trembling mum. Are you laughting? What’s that?
    – No no, just the stumps, three stumps.
    – oh yeah, stumps…but, why?
    This one is hilarious Neil. I guess any kind of laughs are good for the health, also the silent ones. Isabelle

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 4:53 pm

      Hi Isabelle. You know, laughing truly is good for any of us. I don’t think I’ve had a good laugh today. I have to work on that!
      By the way, for some reason your gravatar doesn’t appear with the comment. Maybe you aren’t signed into WordPress?
      Have a great week.
      Neil

      Like

  14. Lynette d'Arty-Cross July 9, 2018 / 5:00 pm

    In the north we don’t have such suburban streets. You need your sturdy shoes or hiking boots. 🙂

    I agree about the stumps. Shellack them and name them “Ecos” or some such and sell them for 3 million. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  15. JT Twissel July 9, 2018 / 5:19 pm

    A walk to the west in my neighborhood will take you to shops and restaurants where something is generally always going on. The only problem is getting home which does require a very steep hike which is no fun in the heat. I agree – getting out always puts things in a different perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 5:44 pm

      Hi JT. Speaking of steep: It’s funny about the slopes in my neighborhood. Some are steeper than any I can recall seeing in the Philadelphia suburbs, which is where I live. You can get some real good exercise by walking up one or two of them.

      Like

  16. Alyson July 9, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    So it’s hot as hell over with you too. Thank goodness for George Clooney style sunglasses!

    I might have mentioned it before but a while back I set myself the task of taking an “interesting” photo per day, from my local hood, for a whole year. Ended up with a great set of 365 pictures and discovered all sorts of places I had hitherto never noticed. I’m sure some of the locals must have thought I was quite mad but caught all the extremes of the seasons that year. Thanks for taking us on your walkabout.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 6:23 pm

      That’s a really great thing you did with the photos. It’s a terrific and interesting form of documentation.
      I stayed indoors most of the time today. It’s just as hot today as it was when I took the walk I wrote about. Have a great week, Alyson. Be seeing you —-

      Like

      • Alyson July 17, 2018 / 8:43 am

        Thanks for this comment – Yes it truly was and I would recommend it to anyone. Not difficult to do and you don’t even have to go very far from home as always an interesting tree, plant, bit of stonework, sunset, pile of autumn leaves, snow drift etc etc….

        Liked by 2 people

  17. Lyn Douglas July 9, 2018 / 6:25 pm

    We sometimes we forget what we have in our own “backyard”. How nice to take the time and enjoy the experience. If you had a dog, you would probably do it more. I do. Lyn

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 6:51 pm

      You know, I hadn’t thought about that. If I had a dog I’d be out on my neighborhood streets twice a day!
      I like to go for walks, but often they are in Philadelphia rather than where I live. Philadelphia streets are more interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Laurie Graves July 9, 2018 / 6:31 pm

    There is always something to see, no matter where you live. All you have to do is look.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Still the Lucky Few July 9, 2018 / 7:05 pm

    I suspect that people who live in the ‘burbs don’t do a whole lot of walking. Any walking or jogging would probably take place on a treadmill. Given what is going on in other parts of the country, you are privileged to live in such a peaceful area—sounds like you appreciate it. Thanks for the tour!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 7:59 pm

      Hello there, Diane. I’m not sure how much walking people in general do around here. I see a few dedicated walkers who do it for the exercise. Some people are out walking their dogs. In general, though, you’re probably right — lots of folks don’t go for walks around the neighborhood.

      Enjoy the rest of the week. And thanks very much for adding your thoughts.

      Like

  20. Cindy Bruchman July 9, 2018 / 7:34 pm

    I like,evening walks when it is,cooker and quieter. I used to be a runner but now strolls in the dark make any neighborhood better!
    Nice shots. Pretty grass.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 9, 2018 / 8:18 pm

      Hi Cindy. Right, it’s easier to get into the “feel” of things at night, when there are fewer distractions. I like sitting outside on my deck in the darkness. Very relaxing, and I find myself sort of communing with nature.

      Like

  21. candidkay July 10, 2018 / 2:48 pm

    So, it’s the “kind of vanilla in appearance” that always stymies me. In a world where we can make change–where we can make beautiful environments–why don’t more people? When you walk down a block where the majority have, it just changes your energy . . .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 10, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      Hello Kay, and thanks for stopping by. The blocks that I refer to as “vanilla” are neat and trim. There’s nothing disheveled about them. But compared to others in the neighborhood, they are plain in appearance. Nothing wrong with that.

      Like

      • candidkay July 10, 2018 / 8:22 pm

        I am sure:). But I still love it when people look for something that speaks to them instead of just going with the status quo. Just something about that little bit of extra effort that makes me smile🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  22. andrewcferguson July 10, 2018 / 4:58 pm

    Thanks goodness for something in praise of the ‘burbs – they’re much derided, but the truth is they’re a great place to stay in many ways. My home town has just celebrated its 70th anniversay – it’s one of Scotland’s New Towns – and it’s in many ways a planned suburban place, apart from the fact it’s 40 or so miles from the nearest city!

    So I really identified with the things you identified – like people driving everywhere; but the place being a green haven in so many ways. Good work fella!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 10, 2018 / 6:09 pm

      Gracias, Andrew.
      Another good thing about my location is that I’m very close to Philadelphia. I go there several times a month.

      Liked by 1 person

      • andrewcferguson July 11, 2018 / 1:59 am

        Likewise – despite being detached from the urb, Glenrothes is sufficiently close to Edinburgh to give us the best of both worlds. Have a good week!

        Liked by 1 person

  23. tanjabrittonwriter July 11, 2018 / 5:05 pm

    Your experience seems to corroborate the old adage that not all who wander are lost, Neil. I am glad the heat did not adversely affect your physical and mental powers.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. melissabluefineart July 12, 2018 / 9:15 am

    What a fun post. I actually do a fair amount of strolling about my neighborhood these days, now that I have a little dog dragging me about. There are a number of features I walk past without really noting, though, and you have inspired me to take a closer look. If you come to visit my neighborhood, mine house will be the urban jungle in the midst of vanilla-land! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 12, 2018 / 10:06 am

      Hi. Your comments reminded me that I need to mow my lawn. The grass is starting to reach tropical heights.

      Like

  25. jeanleesworld July 12, 2018 / 10:05 pm

    I used to take hour-long walks every day in graduate school. It was the best way to reboot the creativity and get back on the writing track…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 12, 2018 / 10:45 pm

      There’s a lot to be said for good, long walks. They can have a very therapeutic effect.
      Enjoy the upcoming weekend, Jean (and take a good, long walk). Be seeing you —

      Liked by 1 person

  26. alhenry July 14, 2018 / 12:22 am

    “Yes, opportunity had presented itself, and I took advantage of it. Too bad I haven’t applied that principal consistently over the course of my life.”

    I certainly hope, Neil, that you will include these lines when you get around to penning your own volumes of existentialist writings. I believe not only will they resonate on a universal scale, but that they indeed describe the common thread of all human experience (except for a few annoying people who always have to be achieving, achieving, achieving and then bragging about it on Twitter).

    As for the stumps on the church lawn, they did not seem to evoke any particular religious statement of ecstasy, but then what would I know about such things? The nuns made a non-believer out of me in first-grade catechism.

    Overall, a first-rate walk.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 14, 2018 / 6:56 am

      Hey there, Amy. I think you picked out two key sentences in the story. They bubbled up from my subconscious, I suppose. How will this be for a book title? — “Existentialism And Me.” A bestseller it will be!

      Like

  27. America On Coffee July 15, 2018 / 3:44 am

    Nice walk Neil. I love the suburbs and really do not like urban America. A walk thru your neighborhood is a loving appreciation of the now. Who knows full-scale urbanization may come at you. )c:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 15, 2018 / 7:09 am

      One thing for sure about my suburban area is that there is no lack of stores. Shopping centers and enclosed shopping malls abound!
      Have a great upcoming week, AOC. As always, it was good to hear from you.

      Like

      • America On Coffee July 15, 2018 / 7:16 am

        That is only because if the days and times we are living in. Decades ago, there was not as much commercialism and urbanization as there is today. To my understanding, all of the USA south is urbanized. I loved old Geogia, Texas and the Carolinas where the homes were built on raised foundations and were miles apart from neighbors and main towns.)c:

        Liked by 1 person

  28. stephpep56 August 4, 2018 / 6:04 am

    I stroll my best at 19 degrees, having read and enjoyed your essay I am going to brave it out now (its 23 degrees here something we are not used to).

    Liked by 1 person

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