Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Caught between centuries

Some forms of safety are vanishing in much of my world! This morning a news crawler had this “family sought as body of young girl found.” Is it in the home where we are not safe? or on our streets? or on airplanes? or in cars?

Last night as I walked home from band practice at 9:00, I marveled at this community and my ability to walk a mile in the almost-dark and feel safe. As I left the middle school where band rehearses, two young deer jogged in front of me, crossing the street. Neither of us were afraid and kept on our respective way. A block and a half later, I passed Hamilton-Gibson House and saw lights still on – Thomas working late?

Just a block later, I walked past our town green where a few people gathered, doing summer night things. Not kick the can games, but adult “let’s get out of the house this evening” things. Among those who got out: I saw the silhouette of a person standing in front of the Winken, Blinken and Nod water feature, just staring. I often stop there to stare. Around the perimeter of the park, several people – mostly couples – sat on metal benches talking and one or two just walked. Most of the couples I see in this community walk holding hands. Pretty nice for 21st Century America.

The evening was finally cool after oppressive humidity and a welcomed rain. The night was perfect, made the more so because I was able to walk past, not worry about those people in the park, hearing – in my head – lingering strains of music we are practicing for the last Wednesday in July concert (a selection Scottish music and composers) and get to my home (doors left unlocked) just enjoying the evening.

This is a good town, a good part of Pennsylvania. Lots of people know this and vacation here. But earlier in the afternoon we had a traffic jam (almost a daily occurrence) where getting through a light takes sometimes as many as four red-turning-to-green lights. We back up two blocks, but the omnipresent gas-related trucks take one light each to turn. They are that big. Adding to the confusion, visitors don’t know when to walk because “WALK” comes on when lights are red in both directions. These visitors try to get across the street on a green, just as some wise parent or teacher taught, or maybe the ways it is done at home. Unfortunately, there is no sign commanding the stranger to walk when traffic from both directions is stopped.

Since I moved here, there are changes. Visitor-caused traffic jams and trucks-gearing-up-to-get-to-their-business-for-the-day traffic jams. Still, I walk alone at night and leave my car running (almost like a native) when I go into the convenience store. Lord, I hope some things do stay the same even as progress takes us ahead of our vision.

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