Friday, July 05, 2013
Just a stroll through the neighborhood after Independence Day
My brother once told me that a dog transforms a creepy stalker into a kindly, harmless pet owner. This is true. If you are walking your dog, you can dawdle and observe details, including the actions of your neighbors, and everyone smiles and waves. If you don't have a dog as cover, someone might call 911.
I like to walk my dog around the 'hood and we often end up at Washington School - that is where we headed this morning, the day after Independence Day. Washington is housed in a stately building; the school was established 111 years ago. All four of my children attended this school, so I have many memories of the place.
This morning, I went past the school and had a look at Mendoza's Garden. Mr. Mendoza is the head custodian of the school and has a gigantic green thumb. He led the kids in establishing an outstanding native plants garden, plus a vegetable patch. School is out, but Mr. Mendoza and his supporters must be on the job because the garden looks fabulous. The head custodian is often the student's favorite adult in the school; I think Mr. Mendoza deserves all that affection.
Just past Washington School is the Robert Crown Center - a large recreational facility with an in-door ice rink, several softball/baseball diamonds and a soccer pitch. I watched some summer camp counselors leading some smallish children through a series of calisthenics - watching first and second graders exercise is a hoot. The jumping jacks were especially creative. There were also two middle aged guys doggedly jogging back and forth across the fields. One was a very white person with no shirt, the other was a well-upholstered Hispanic man. I admired their determination, and was glad that they were running, and I was not.
I also noticed that a great-great-grandfather of an elm tree had recently been marked with the Green Dot of Death. In Evanston, we have a problem with Dutch Elm Disease - it has taken down some of our largest and oldest elm trees. When a diseased tree is identified, the city forestry folks dab it with a two inch circle of green paint. At a later date, the Tree Killers arrive and eliminate the quarantined individual. This particular elm is massive; it stands between the Washington School playground and the Crown Center fields. This old elm has cast its shade on dozens of generations of schoolchildren.. Whenever I see the Green Dot of Death, I feel pretty bad.
I hit a side street and saw this little guy:
This is the black-capped chickadee, a bright and cheerful bird. He has that terrific song - two notes, descending in a whole step (A natural to G natural, I think). This bird is more often heard than seen.
As I approached my house, I saw a fellow dog walker. I know the dogs because I often walk by their house and they make a hellacious racket if they happen to be in the yard. One dog is massive - a Newfoundland, a shaggy black bear of a canine with a gentle soul. The second dog is a yappy little poodle/spaniel mix. The dog walker was a wickedly fit young man in shorts - no shoes, no shirt. He had some serious tattoos; didn't get a good look, but I thought I saw a large dragon-type image on his back.
There is an epidemic of rabbits in our area this year. My small one-eyed dog wanted to go all coyote on their fuzzy little asses, but I wouldn't let him. I dragged Tai away from the bunnies and went home.
So I really didn't see anything special during my stroll today, but it felt quietly special in spite of that.