This walking thing is quite novel for me. I am amazed at how new my neighborhood appears. And I have lived here 18 years. I am actually seeing much of it for the very first time. This morning a woman was pushing her two-year-old down the street in a stroller. The little boy raised his arm to me in greeting as we passed one another. Now that is a friendly neighborhood.
There are teams of workman digging holes, trimming trees, moving churches in the neighborhood. I have noticed that whenever there is a team that involves one man driving some sort of tractor, a backhoe of some sort or a mobile crane, and two men to put on the finishing touches of whatever is being done, filling in a hole, digging a hole, moving a beam, the driver of the vehicle is always fat while the wielders of the shovels are always thin. I wonder which came first, the belly or the job?
On my walk I pass an elementary school. Three days ago I saw on the sidewalk in front of the school the remains of some kind of pipe cleaner figure. It caught my eye because of its colors, white, green, brown and red. It had been so badly treated that it was impossible to tell what it was meant to have been. I mention it because it has been in that same spot on the sidewalk for the past three days. Surprising, at least to me, how long a bit of flotsam like that can stay put.
Next to the elementary school is a children’s park. Parents bring their kids to play. There is a small fountain where a kid can get wet if she wants. There is a very large structure in the middle of the park, a giant monkey bar contraption. The inner part of the tubular structure is filled with a webbing made out of steel cable that has been tinted a rust color. Children climb all over it, including very young children, maybe four years old. I watched one little girl way at the top. She was bare-foot and making her way down from one strand to another. I would have found it quite daunting. It was a long way down, especially for someone that small. Her mother was at the bottom watching, but not at all concerned. She was, if anything, admiring her daughter’s agility.
It is a friendly spot where parents congregate and talk while their children do the same on the various slides and webs and swings put there for their amusement. Today I noticed, however, that way off in one corner a little boy was playing alone in a sandbox. Near him on a bench was his guardian. They were Chinese. Were they sitting apart by choice? The little boy seemed happy enough, but the two of them were striking in their satellite-hood. If they were any farther away from the center of activity, they would be out of the park.
All this walking has created a number of little dramas for me, like the isolated Chinese child. There is, for example, the door stoops on which someone has piled back issues of the Journal of Economics. Who could possibly want those? But each day the pile diminishes. Today it was gone. On one step a package leans up against the riser. It is from Amazon. It is a book addressed to someone named Xiang. I looked. It’s faded address plate indicates it has been sitting there a long time. How much longer? I wonder what book it is?