This summer we’ll be re-running my most-read blogs from the past year, in case you didn’t have an opportunity to read them the first time around. I’ve rewritten each one of these, so even if you’ve read them before, you may wish to read them again! Here is the fourth of those articles:
Most days between the hours of one PM and three, I hoist myself up from my desk and do some exercise. It might be swimming or it might be walking. The swimming speaks for itself, but the walking is something else.
When in Denver, I usually walk from my house to Holly Street, a mile. I go along Twelfth Street. It’s a fairly nondescript neighborhood, dull to tell the truth, the way much of Denver’s 1940’s architecture is dull —one level suburban houses brought close to the city center.
There are never many people (or moving cars) on Twelfth Street. I do see a fair number of dogs taking their people for a walk. Most days along the park a yellow taxi sits. The driver is within, asleep or on his phone. Is he waiting for a call? Playing games? Hiding? Or, is he, as I often see him, just sleeping?
Today when I pass the basketball court there are two guys, both bearded, one very fat, one very skinny. They are shooting baskets, but always missing, always talking. What are they talking about? March madness? Diets?
There was also a young man pushing a stroller meant for twins, but there were no children in it. He did have a large white dog on a leash, and via cell phone, talking to someone. Was he trying to locate his children? Telling a caretaker he was coming?
There was another young man, rings in his nose, ear plugs in ears, and he was nodding vigorously. Was he agreeing with someone, or was it music with a heavy beat?
A girl with flaming red hair, was being pulled hard by a dog as she tried to navigate the deep slush. The dog’s paws are wet. Are hers?
On the cement sidewalk the man who put in the cement had embossed his name like an artist signing a painting: “J. McDrew Portland Cement 1967” What was I doing that year? Librarian by day; writing by the night, my prose having a cement-like consistency.
I saw a large lady with a very tiny dog. Since we had a heavy (eight inches) snow two days ago, the street gutters were like rivers. Would the dog wade through, jump over, or resist entirely? What about the woman? And I do wonder: Where does all that swiftly (and often deep) flowing water go? Into the Platt River, where gold was once found? “Pikes Peak or Bust.”
Denver is the kind of city—my neighborhood anyway, where—in passing—people say “hello” or “good afternoon.” A pleasant custom. A connection, however slight.
Then there is the big inducement for my walk, and sometimes I do need an inducement. At almost the half-mile point of my stroll is one of those little free libraries. They look like bird houses, but in their nests books have been laid away. And—free!
This particular “free library” is curious. They often have what I think are good books, by good authors. I wonder who curates this library. Are they smart readers because they have good books, or are they disinterested readers because they give away what I think are good books?
Today, on my walk, I found two such books. The Poetry of Robert Frost: All Eleven of his Books—Complete. I enjoy reading Frost. Good find.
The other book is titled, Where the Wild Coffee Grows: The Untold Story of Coffee from the Cloud Forests of Ethiopia to your Cup. Since good coffee is my fire-starter, I couldn’t resist. The history of coffee. More odd facts, more curious details for my head.
I will read some of both books tonight.
As I was walking back home—down Eighth Street—carrying my books, I must have had the cover of the Frost poetry collection showing. Because as I passed a man, he glanced at me and called out, “Ah, Robert Frost!” That’s all he said.
It was the perfect readers’ exchange for the road taken.