When I was a little girl the sidewalk was both a path to independence and a boundary. I learned to ride my bicycle on the sidewalk but it was a few years until I was allowed to ride in the street even though ours was a quiet little street.
It seemed that every house had a different kind of sidewalk. Some were wide and new concrete which made the riding smooth. Others were brick and bumpy. Others still were slate. The slate sidewalks were slick when it rained and uneven due to winter’s freezing and thawing. There were often gaps in the sidewalk when you came upon an empty lot.
I walked to school from kindergarten through my freshman year in high school. We would gather in the morning and head off upon this path to higher learning. As with much of life, it was often more about the journey than the destination.
The elementary school was not too far away. Maybe a quarter-mile or so but to little 5-year-old legs it was far. Down hill and up hill we trod. When we got almost to the school, there was a little grocery store with wonderful candy, pop and ice cream. 5 or 10 cents went a long way in those days. It could fill one of those tiny brown bags with all kinds of treats. My favorite time was Halloween when the candy case held scary treats like wax lips and teeth, long chewy finger nails, and edible orange harmonicas.
The way home from school was leisurely. We meandered collecting friends and dropping them off. Sometimes we would run into an older couple we called Honey and Mooner. Mooner liked a nip or two and they would nap under the tree outside the little story. Once we thought he was dead but the store owner assured us that he was just DEAD DRUNK! No worries, we trotted on.
Junior high and high school were across town and there were often long stretches where there was no sidewalk. I liked to walk past the old houses, once grand and ornate. In the fall, there was a wonderful smell of roses, marigolds and drying weeds and spent wildflowers.
In my sophomore year, a new high school was built outside of town, and we had to ride a bus. While we walked a few blocks to the bus stop, the experiences were not quite the same. We had a lot of fun walking to school in those years, even when it snowed or rained or was blazing hot it was an important part of the school day.
I think I’ll take a walk.