Walkable Neighborhoods

Street Sign in Santa Rosa,  Ca
The last couple weekends,  I've been exploring walkable neighborhoods.  Towns and neighborhoods where you can walk to cafes, bookstores, the library,  grocery store, work, art gallery, and public transit within a mile of your home.

Several years back.

I loved living in the country and having my own farm for almost five years. I enjoyed the peace and tranquility of my farm, the daily ritual of feeding the animals and cleaning the paddocks, the sunrises and sunsets,  the solitude and privacy.  It was a beautiful time.

Right now, I live in a townhouse in a suburban neighborhood.  Suburbia has never been an ideal place for me to live. I feel claustrophobic.  The leaf blowers, the pesticide use to drown out weeds (weeds are actually beneficial plants), the neighbor playing loud music while sawing and drilling away at home projects, the melancholy of Sunday hanging heavy over the rooftops while Sunday football blares through the television sets and neighbors back in to driveways laden with cases from Costco and brown bags spilling over from trips to the grocery stores cause me to fill trapped and depressed.

Growing up as a kid, I never dreamed of being married,  having children, living in a suburban neighborhood. I wanted to escape my childhood home in a foggy suburb bordering San Francisco.

I yearned for adventure.  I loved to study field guides imagining voyages and safaris following paths deep into the jungle, forging ahead across vast seas looking for plant and animal life to log religiously into my journals thick with sketches and notes.

These days.

Voyages and safaris are not in my immediate future.

Surprisingly,  I am finding adventure and discovery in walkable neighborhoods.  Old neighborhoods steeped in time. I walk. Searching for light, palettes of color, the shade of trees that cool in the heat of the day,  a bridge over a bubbling stream, the comedy of crows chased across the sky by birds half their size, a minute conversation with a stranger that feels timeless in a simple moment of connection, a browse through a free library found along the way, admiring the motley collection of dogs walking by.

This morning,  I picked up my mom. We walked a walkable neighborhood in a once undesirable row of streets surrounding a city park.  Recently, the neighborhood has drawn artists to its core. Art galleries, a vintage camera shop, a houseplant storefront transported from the 70's, poets readings and flamenco dancers beckon from recovered buildings no longer crumbling and broken, the street and alleys tunneling through simmer with the creative spark.

We walk passed a sign on the sidewalk.

And find a cafe with Frida and Luther Burbank painted floor to ceiling. We study the menu, the courtyard and bistro tables under a grey stormy sky promising to return on a warm spring day.

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