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ON THE TRACK OF TRACTION

Shorewood, winter


“There’s a time for streetwalking.” I actually said that to strangers passing in the road, and they smiled. Well, streetwalking is keeping me upright. The weather still swings, snow, then a melt, frigid, then ice, snow, melt, frigid, ice, I should write a tune for my disenchanted chant. The cleanest walks become the most treacherous as they layer themselves with black ice, and only those with a layer of snow are safe for me to use.

Every store was out of street salt the other day, several other days in fact. And table salt didn’t do the trick, the grain’s too fine. I had wanted to buy some and walk through ShoreWood, like Hansel and Gretel, keeping track of my tracks as I created traction. Until now I’ve always used sand, feels like it’s harmless if it ends up on the shoreline. And I’m not anxious to live near a great salt lake.

If there’s too much traffic, I do use sidewalks, when I can find a way to reach them. Yesterday iciness on sidewalks surprised me several times, but I managed to save myself from hitting bottom.

Later: I went back to Pick ‘n Save. They finally had salt in 20-pound bags. Then I saw it was four-ingredient salt, sodium chloride the last ingredient, and I wondered about the safety of the other three. I didn’t have to wonder long. If I have to keep it out of reach of children, how can I put it on the sidewalk? Not only that, little kids think snow looks like ice cream, and they love to lick. The easiest way to stop my younger grandkids is to remind them about what dogs do in snow.
 

A COMEDY OF ELDER’S

quirks, winter

It’s hard to believe only a week ago we were still in winter’s frozen thrall, praying not to fall. That”s when I heard the rumor: a shipment of salt had finally arrived at Walgreens! I called to be sure it was true, and to check the weight, under ten pounds, light enough to carry home. “Great! I’ll be right over!”

I first stopped at Pick ‘N Save, bought a load of groceries for my backpack, then walked to Walgreens and found the salt. Except it wasn’t salt. It was another one of those chemical concoctions that have to be kept out of reach of children. I didn’t want it for clearing off my roof! So that’s what people use on their walks, I thought, and the salespeople don’t seem to notice it’s not even salt.

I continued on to Sendiks, and they actually had salt, real salt, rock salt, no warnings about kids, in 25-pound bags. Hmmm, and I already had ten pounds of groceries on my back. Now or never, I told myself. If I wait, it may be gone. Well, 25 plus 10 equals 35, and I lift 40 pounds on the shoulder press. But my back’s supported on the machines, so I’m not carrying the weights, and certainly not schlepping them for more than a half mile. I bought the bag anyway and started out. Dead weight, this is dead weight, when will I learn my limits? I plunked the dead weight onto the first bus stop bench I came to, no bus home from here. Finally I picked the salt sack up and placed it belly high, as if I were pregnant. Didn’t help. I kept an eye out for friends in cars, seriously considered stopping at someone’s house, as I navigated the icy walks.

I didn’t have to carry it to term! About two-thirds of the way home, Thalia was pulling into her driveway. “Hi, would you mind giving my bag of salt a ride to my house?” I asked. “Sure I’ll do it,” she replied, “Would you like to come with it?”

Okay, I won’t do that again. I’ll take a stroller out of the garage next time I need salt.


 

THE SEVENTH SENSE

environment, philosophy, Shorewood

If the sixth sense is intuition, then the seventh must be the sense of adventure. After all, everything we do is one, if we choose to look at it that way. When I walk out of our front door, and I do it frequently, I don’t know what will happen next, even whether or not I’ll ever walk back through it again!

Well, that’s the way I was feeling most of this winter, due to the ice crisis. I walked several miles a day despite the fact that I was terrified of falling. Last week I thought it was spring and decided not to dwell on fallen fellow Midwesterners, but on the residents, incidents, surprises, I come upon as I meander, or rush (more likely rush), through the day.

When I started to blog in June, 2006, I figured I’d write about the many interesting people I run into on a daily basis, get the character of Shorewood by showing the characters in Shorewood. After all, that is an adventure! Then I modified the concept, not wanting to name names, and blogged more about incidents than about particular people. Last year I wrote LOCKED OUT AND LOCKED IN  when I found one of my grandsons locked out of his house early in the morning and later that same day had to call 911 for a lady who’d been trapped in her garage for an hour and a half. And I blogged about the speeding car that killed a dog last month, INCIDENT AT AN INTERSECTION

Several days after I posted that blog, someone asked me, as I walked along Maryland Avenue, “Are you the lady who wrote the article about the dog? I had the same thing happen to me. I saw a car hit a dog and speed away, except the dog was a puppy, and the dog-walker was a little boy!”

This past January as I walked along Oakland, a woman standing alone across the street shouted to no one in particular, “Doesn’t anyone have a cell phone?” Why did she want one? Then I saw a man peering under his car’s hood, smoke billowing into his face. He slammed the hood closed, screamed a stream of unbloggable words, and the woman yelled, “Someone call 911!” I did. And I moved as far as possible from that car. About thirty years ago, Connie Wypp, one of Adolph’s art students at UWM, parked her VW Beetle across the street from our house in Bill Nichols’ driveway, leapt out of the car, and within seconds the car was in flames.

That didn’t happen this time. Even before my 911 call went through, the rescue squad arrived. Two brave men lifted the hood and put out the fire, while the combustible VW Beetle burned in my mind.

Yesterday it occurred to me as I passed familiar faces along Oakland Avenue, that I've lived in Shorewood almost 39 years and have probably seen most of these people many, many times, and even if I've never had a conversation with someone, he or she seems familiar. Curious thought. But that's my point. Usually it’s the residents, not the incidents, it’s walking everywhere, or biking, being part of the environment and not enclosed in a car, interacting with whatever's happening, that makes each day an adventure.
 

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