Night walking journal: ‘Am I done with what?’
Mike Brown

I ’ve been walking a lot recently. Well, more than recently but after having a couple of heart procedures I’ve gotten a lot more serious about it.

Walking in Rockdale in the summer requires a little creative planning.

Since it stays close to, or above, triple digits for most of the daylight hours, the most comfortable times to walk are either before that yellow fireball comes up or after it goes down.

For me the choice is even narrower because my morning gear simply does not work. So I’ve become one of Rockdale’s nighttime denizens.

And I’m not alone. I’m amazed how many people are exercising at night. It’s sort of a different world out there on Rockdale’s familiar streets after the sun goes down.

I’ve really been enjoying it. Of course it takes a little getting used to the rhythms and routines that kick in after dark.

Art by Darienne Vargas, a senior at Rockdale High School. Art by Darienne Vargas, a senior at Rockdale High School. Couple of nights ago a door opened onto the night and a feminine voice bellowed in my direction “Get in here! Aren’t you done pottying?”

I was three steps toward the house—a confused three steps— before I realized the lady was looking out of a brightly lit home and could not see me in the street, but could clearly see her dog, only a few feet away.

I’ve encountered a surprising number of deer, armadillos, possums and a couple of rabbits.

But on these nocturnal journeys, my mind goes off in more directions than my feet.

For instance, every time I turn at the north end of Calhoun onto Post Oak, I look at the house. Well, more accurately, I look at the house number.

It’s 2507 Post Oak. And I wonder, is that the highest street number in Rockdale?

In the 1950s a street numbering system was adopted whereby the numbers increase as you get further away from the corner of the railroad tracks and Main.

But since Post Oak is such a crazy shaped street—it makes three fourths of a circle through western Rockdale—its numbers go higher than other streets in the vicinity.

So its end is 2507.

What about the highway? Sure, it’s much longer to the west inside the city limits than Post Oak, but something interesting happens.

The numbers start over. No kidding. Duchess Double Kwik at the other corner of Calhoun is 2300 West Cameron.

A couple of blocks west there should be numbers greater than 2507, but the numbers get recycled and by the time you’re at Banda’s Restaurant it’s 480 and the intermediate school at the western city limits is only 1338.

Walking is fun in a town you’ve lived in more for six decades because you know so much of it and so many people in it.

I’ve got one route I call Six Churches because I can walk by six churches and get in my 2.5 miles.

It involves my cutting across the lot between the old Walmart and Peace Lutheran. Early one Sunday morning, well in advance of service time, I surprised a church member, who lives almost adjacent to the sanctuary, busily sweeping the sidewalks and entrances.

I really liked that. She’s taking care of her church and I’ll bet a lot of people don’t even know it. I can guarantee you she’s not the only one in Rockdale who does something similar.

On a different route, one of my walks goes up the highest hill in town, up Redbud Street behind St. John’s United Methodist Church.

When you turn east off Post Oak—there’s that street again— it’s dark, especially on moonless nights.

You trudge up the hill, past a curbed inset in the street with trees, top out at the crest and, bam, it’s blazing lights from the hospital, the high school and points east.

It’s beautiful. There’s no other word for it.

And I think, you know a lot of things are beautiful, even things you see every day.

But first, you’ve got to open your eyes and look at them.

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2013-09-19 digital edition

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