Yesterday evening I had a few hours alone and instead of planting myself on the couch and watching several hours of Netflix I decided to go for a walk around the neighbourhood. The weather app on my phone told me that it would feel like -7C outside but it was snowing steadily and I couldn’t resist the chance to spend some time in it. The neighbourhood is really interesting; there are nice streets, not so nice streets and even a National Guard barracks so I know where to go in the event of a zombie apocalypse! The ground under my feet was a pleasing mix of freshly laid snow and pine needles from the morning’s Christmas tree collection; yesterday’s seasonal centrepiece, tomorrow’s compost. Walking swiftly away from the house in the cold I paused a moment at the local car dealership and played a little game of trying to find the worst car they had for sale (quite an achievement at that particular place) and settled on a 10 year old Buick that had a dent in the bonnet (hood) that looked suspiciously like a previous owner had run down a cyclist. The cars chief virtues were listed as being “quite clean” and having working air conditioning. I idly wondered how many owners the Buick had had; probably a lot as the average Buick owner is 107 and there must be a high turnover rate.
Leaving the car dealership behind me I carried on another half a mile until I reached the local subway station. The station is not an area you want to be unless you are catching a train and today there was a new record of 5 abandoned shopping carts. As a rule of a thumb if there is more than one cart in a particular area and that area isn’t a grocery store then it probably isn’t the best area to hang around in. I have seen homeless people and people who go through trash to collect cans and bottles (you get 5 cents per bottle returned) using the carts but I still have no answer as to why the carts gather at particular locations. The station is a great place to be to see arguments between bus drivers and between bus drivers and the locals; my favourite occasion being when our driver stopped to berate a rude kid in a hoody and told the kid he was lucky he was driving a bus or he’d fight him!
Walking briskly away from the station (my hands were beginning to turn a little blue) I passed a branch of Dunkin Donuts and popped in for a Boston Cream. Bostonians are such big fans of this particular chain that there are three within half a mile of our home; the one inside the local grocery store is the best as you can eat doughnuts as you do the weekly food shop. The street was already nicer and the houses better maintained than the ones by the station. The air smells heavily of chocolate brownie here in the evenings due to the large bakery nearby. The next thing that caught my attention was the sheer number of US flags hanging from houses down the street. Americans are a lot keener to display their national flags than British people are and it is somewhat pleasing to see them fluttering in the breeze. There is nothing wrong with a little pride; a few of the veterans in the neighbourhood even have the flags of the units they served in flying from the porch. I imagine that they are a pretty good deterrent to potential burglars too!
I headed home a different way, past another Dunkin store and I was beginning to feel a little conspicuous; walking in the snow without pushing a shopping cart or walking a dog. Americans don’t do walking like Brits do (I don’t blame them as the weather is a lot hotter in the summer and a lot colder in the winter) and they like everything to be accessible by car. Within 10 miles of our house there is a drive- thru wedding chapel, I kid you not! Reading the website for the chapel amuses me greatly “Why fly to Vegas and elope when you can take advantage of our Drive-Thru Wedding Packages? We will marry you in your car: be it a limo, sedan, VW bug, or pickup truck.” Who doesn’t feel romantic reading that!? Anyway I digress. Walking past the well maintained front lawns of our quiet and pleasant street (and not for the first time realising that we are lucky to not live closer to the subway station) I returned home to warm up with a cup of tea and some chocolate.
I hope you liked my take on the local neighbourhood from a British point of view, I thought it would be nice to try a different sort of post. Happy New Year to all my readers 🙂