Walking My Neighborhood

Today I moseyed rather than took off at my daily power walk pace. It felt right to pause and savor anew the attributes of our neighborhood, well aware how fortunate I am to live here. I’d appreciate taking you along with me this time and will likely share more in the future. It restores me with its emerald beauty and variety of scenes.

Irvington Historic District was designated as such and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. Substantial as well as more modest houses were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by merchants, doctors and lawyers, lumbermen and cannery owners, steamboat captains and civil servants, to name a few. The lots are expansive for a close-in city neighborhood. Even then, some barely accommodate square footage and yards festooned with gardens that tantalize mind and eye. Wide streets retain a sense of history even as improvements are made. Mammoth, diverse old trees arch over the streets. They offer shelter as well as beauty when I meander in rainy weather, cooling shadows when I move through summer’s blaze.

The varied architecture and landscaping include verandas and columns, flower- and vine-laden trelisses and fences, outdoor lounging/dining areas and even garages whose flat roofs accommodate potted flowers and seating with tables or a sofa. There are iron rings attached to curbs, once used to tie up horses–now there are toy horses tethered, a tradition of sorts. In addition, many display varieties of art or hang wind socks, banners or flags and create fountains or small ponds. I am often surprised to see the interesting things people want to exhibit, such as a full-sized giraffe on a patio; old windows hanging from a wire between trees; colored bottles upside down in the earth or on hung in a small tree; rock designs and mosaics; and groupings of rustic or colorful bird houses on poles or branches. And at the thick bases of several trees are miniature scenarios that seem created for fairies and pixies with teeny houses, furniture and pathways.

Does this sound at least slightly enchanting? It is. It is one reason I choose this spot, residing in the neighborhood 22 years. I don’t live in one of the fancy houses–there have been a variety of houses in my life and as we emptied the nest of five kids this spacious apartment has worked out well. There are many pleasing, some outright elegant “plexes” as well as houses divided into apartments, condos and townhouses, all tucked in amid stately residences. And we have a couple of streets with more modern apartment complexes shined up with abundant flowers and fine landscaping.

Each walk I take provides happy entertainment and causes for meditation, a revolving feast for the eyes. I have documented these walks for over two decades in all seasons and in many states of mind. I have a history of changes as well as a compendium of established Irvington District scenes as I have loved and walked it. Enjoy a sampling. I do use photographs from Irvington archives for various posts but this time have gathered a number of pictures showcasing autumnal-tinged scenes. You may note details like someone’s dry cleaning hung on  a massive front door of a large home; a sturdy birdhouse “B and B”;  an statement (or prayer) spelled out in grass and flowers; and a gnarled, proud tree–perhaps a catalpa, I’m not certain–but I’m happy to find it standing after each gusty rainstorm.

I didn’t include a rambling house with a big side yard devoted to a flourishing vegetable garden and several chickens. Or the dignified hand-carved eagle that presides over its corner. A mini bamboo forest I seek out, feeling as if I’ve landed in a jungle. Or another life-sized giraffe peeking from an upstairs window–who’d have thought to add it to one’s menagerie? Well, the numerous oddities and unique beauties will wait for another post.

What does your neighborhood mean to you? Do you cherish your memories of it, avail yourself of its surprises and delights? Take a long walk and discover it anew.

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8 thoughts on “Walking My Neighborhood

  1. I think what will be most remembered about this crazy country of ours is the healing nature of the old neighborhoods, the ones with the lovely homes and welcoming walkways upon which light plays through the leaves of the ancient trees and glowing flowers and shrubs. The architecture is always stunning. The town in which I resided during my last twenty years in Mississippi, Port Gibson had a Church Street, that rested beneath the arching branches of hundred year old live oaks. When the govt funded DOT said they would have to cut the trees down to widen the highway, signs went up in black and white folks yards: SAVE CHURCH STREET. It was a successful campaign-the trees are still there.

    Thank you for a comforting post and wonderful pictures.

    1. What wonderful recollections, Paul. I so agree about the comfort of these neighborhoods, wherever they may remain. New developments most often feel soul-less and uninspired; there is nothing like time to put a sheen and interesting marks on buildings and landscapes. I would love to hear more about your old Mississippi neighborhood–would you consider writing a post on those experiences and views?

      I appreciate your considered, incisive responses, as ever. Thank you for reading.

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