Misty rain, cool downpours, fresh, warm sunlight, gentle spring breezes---such afternoons are always balmy times. Spring is welcome after a hard winter with the showers of April, the warming of May. June has arrived, and I can see prominent proof of the new growth of spring. Soft, green buds on the myriad trees and bushes tell a story, a story of new birth and regeneration for the year. I like to think that my mind is ready for this procession.
Across from my window are the dogwoods---between me and the busy road. For a short time, they provide a fragrant beauty that brightens any day. They blossom with white, dark and light pink petals for only a few weeks---it's their nature; then the colors fade to the pale buds and finally the summer green leaves. From now until the end of summer, I'll have this greenery for my view.
And a little farther, across the street, are the red maples making a colorful backdrop through the dogwoods. But, they're not alone. A few regular maples keep the green in mind.
My childhood home sported a backyard red maple, a Japanese entry which brightened a yard dominated by the falling red berries of the nearby mountain ash. The yard was no great beauty, but the red of the maple softened the hot summer view of the worn patches of grass and struggling flowers and bushes. The mountain ash berries just became squashed on the walk and had a questionable odor. A few anty peonies (ours always seemed to be covered with ants) framed the old, angled basement entry. As kids, we certainly spent enough time sitting atop the door and sliding down. We continued to do it even knowing a splinter was a possibility. Our version of great danger, I think. And I remember practicing with my “green” thumb on all parts of the yard. But, alas, my efforts were only temporary as my boyish thoughts inevitably turned to non-garden areas.
A balmy day also reminds me of the nomadic existence I had as a boy, walking or bicycling around our town with nothing special in mind. It was certainly safe enough in those days. I feared no area, and I went just about anywhere my young legs could walk or pedal.
Nearing the center of town, a perfumed aroma would assail my nostrils. This came from Pollack's Fruital Works (essences for perfumes.) The closer you got to it, the stronger the aroma, and then it lost its attractiveness. Overwhelming is the word. Of course, not too far from there was the Spalding bakery, and the pleasing aroma of fresh doughnuts fought the perfume and was a rather mixed scent---sort of like a jelly donut.
I like walking. It's therapeutic for whatever ails you---physical or mental, good exercise, and a chance to meet people. My Mother always shooed us outside to walk or play with a: “…go on. It'll blow the stink off you…” We didn't take it personally.
Walking around is a regular opportunity to meet strangers and view property and buildings close up. It's a quite different view from when you're driving past at thirty miles an hour in a car.
On the sidewalk, a passing stranger will nod or speak in answer to your hello. People might ask directions. While you can respond from a car, it isn't always easy. For that, you'll probably be stopped for traffic. Even then, you'll hear the impatient horns urging you to move along.
Few of us need to walk to get somewhere anymore. The average family has two or three cars and maybe a motorbike to make the trips to available malls, doctors, health clubs, gyms, Jennie Craig, etc.
Home gyms or basketball hoops in the driveway keep us close to home. Or we have an office running track to use---sometimes like the rooftop track used in “The Secret of My Success” These activities are good exercise (although in the movie I kept expecting someone to run off the edge of the roof,) but they don't permit meeting with many friends or neighbors.
Kids once rode bikes and walked everywhere. Now they have Moms to drive them to the mall. Bicycles are in the minority these days, so kids use skateboards or inline skates or motorcycles or ATVs. The malls are the main reason for the demise of most downtowns and the Mom and Pop stores around the small cities. Yes, kids should shy away from strangers and bums. That's an unfortunate fact of life, and it can't be helped in a changing society and economy. So, maybe it's not always the kids' faults. They still do the best they can with what they have. It's a sad reality that progress and the march of time have resulted in less street safety. I was a kid given lots of freedom. What I did and where I went as a kid could not be done these days---although serious problems are as easy to walk into as ever.
A balmy day was also an opportunity to sit my Dad's homemade Adirondack chair on the front porch to read. I remember sitting there reading science-fiction, my new literary experience, sucking on horehound drops, and watching the World go by. But, really, there wasn't a lot of traffic on our street, so the World was rather quiet in my area---at least until another kid came by and we went off exploring or playing baseball.
Such warm, lingering days are long-gone now. My asphalt and cement life reflects only blasting waves on hot, sunny days. The cookie-cutter cars passing my window can't be identified as readily as they were in my childhood, and the twittering of birds and rustles of small animals are drowned out by the sounds of commerce. I spend more time at my computer than I ever did reading science-fiction.
Progress and change are relentless, but our pleasant memories are always there to serve us.