On average, I walk six miles every day. More if I get to use my hands and I have gloves and a little less when the streets and sidewalks are snow-covered than when bathed in sunshine. Sadly, for those who are less than fond of me, that six miles is a total distance and not in a straight line leading from Norwich. Better luck tomorrow.
I drive to work and to the market when we're shopping but for almost anything in the city limits of the Rose City, from Occum to Laurel Hill-from the West End to Thamesville, I am a pedestrian.
The pace is a lot slower than in the car, but you get to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells that much longer and I think that's a better than fair trade. And the things you see and the people you meet when you take the time to open your eyes and your mind are more rewarding than you can imagine.
When I'm heading to the ball fields on Hamilton Avenue, I'll take the Heritage Trail and Howard T. Brown Park before crossing the Laurel Hill Bridge not just because I love the Heritage Trail even though we don't talk very much about it in Norwich unless to complain it's not (yet) finished. Even Rome (New York) wasn't built in a day.
I use it because there's always someone, and almost always more than one someone fishing in the shadow of the bridge at the far end of the park and while I wouldn't know a fish stick from a fish mac they don't mind the company and I enjoy watching them enjoying themselves.
Last week, when the heat of the day had subsided a little in the evening, I was returning home on Broadway from a meeting, the Commission on the City Plan, I think.
As I turned the corner onto Chelsea Parade South heading home to Lincoln Avenue, I watched a one-woman beautification committee watering a parched lily at the foot of a metal sign across from Chelsea Parade. The heat had taken a toll on the plant but not on her determination to have something beautiful at the base of yet another ugly street sign.
Had I driven, I'd have never seen her, or this: a large retriever-like dog (I'm as good with dogs as I am with fish and don't get me started on dog fish) with a star-spangled bandanna padding towards us as we stood speaking. He had a tennis ball he bounced towards me and when I threw it to him, he snagged it...in mid-air and rolled it back to me. Lather, rinse and repeat. He was amazing (and I was better than pretty good).
Later last week, I was walking just past the intersection of Sachem and Lafayette Streets near where the bigger and better Phillys is being finished. Sitting on the ledge in front of what will be, I guess, an entrance when everything is done, was a young man with an unplugged electric guitar, brow furrowed in deep concentration as he worked on his fretting and chording.
He sounded terrific, not that I interrupted him to tell him because it was obvious he wasn't playing for me but, rather, for himself. That he was part of the soundtrack of another day in Norwich was important only in as much as the music he was making was a song for himself. As it is for each of us, everyday, as we get into tune.