Archive for the ‘North Side’ Category

Trees & Comfort

Friday, May 11th, 2018

There are three trees in front of our new digs, one kind of protecting the condo’s southeast corner and the other two pretty much in our front yard. Because the trees were bare of leaves when we moved in, we’ve been wondering since February what types of trees they are.

All I could say from my experience is that they did not appear to be oaks, elms, ash, catalpa, or basswood. I knew this because we had four oak trees in the yard at Kilian Boulevard when I grew up, as well as two elms, two catalpas and one ash tree. And, as I’ve noted here before, at our East Side place we had thirty-four oaks and a basswood as well as numerous evergreens. Our three trees at the new place were none of those.

So as the buds began to show and turn into leaves, we made guesses and deductions. I surmised, from several maple leaves that showed up on the ground as the snow melted, that one of the three was a maple. The Texas Gal was skeptical, noting that the maple leaves I saw could have blown into the front yard from any of trees in the neighborhood. True enough, but I was hopeful.

The tree on the corner was the first to show buds, and they turned into leaves and small berry-like pods. I took a picture the other day:

flowering crabI posted the pic on Facebook and asked if anyone knew what it was. I got an answer from Barb, my pal Rob’s wife, who said it was a flowering crab, and she posted some pics of what it would look like in bloom. This morning, pink blossoms are beginning to show. It’s going to be beautiful.

That left the identification of the other two trees. The one nearest the front door has been showing leaves and seeds for a couple of days, so yesterday I went out and took a close look at the green seeds hanging down. When they dry and fall, they will spiral down sort of like little helicopters. It’s a maple tree. I hope it’s one of those that blazes red-orange in the autumn.

That leaves the one in the middle, which has barely started to bud. We’ll have to wait a week or so, I’d guess, before we can identify it.

But there’s more to identifying the flowering crab and the maple than just knowledge. There’s comfort, too. Now, I love our new place. The upper level is pretty much the way we want it. (The acquisition of a couch and a loveseat and a coffee table lie somewhere not too far past the horizon.) The lower level still has boxes – of books, pictures, fabric and some other stuff – that are yet to be dealt with. But unfinished or not, this place is now home (as I knew it would be). Still, as winter faded and spring began, I missed a few things about our old place on the East Side.

I thought about the lilacs, those growing wild in the grove and the one we planted in our brick garden, the one that blossomed for the first time last spring. And I thought about the vines that creep a little further each year from the chimney along the south wall of the house, turning from dark green in the summer to a brilliant red in the autumn. I will miss the lilacs and the vines, I told my sister in an email.

But here, on the North Side, we’ll have the subtle pink of the flowering crab in the springtime, and if we’re fortunate, we’ll have the bold red-orange of the maple tree when autumn comes, giving us a delicate welcoming of the warmth and a few months later, a fiery farewell. I’m fine with that.

On Patrol

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The most direct route from our new digs to the local hardware store – and I’ve traveled that route many times during the past nine days – takes me along Twelfth Avenue North past the back of the Church of St. Paul, a Catholic church that’s home to All Saints Academy, an elementary school.

I drove home along Twelfth Avenue the other day just as recess was starting. A batch of All Saints students, heavily bundled against the day’s cold, were making their ways across the street to the playground with a young woman standing guard with a school patrol flag. The woman – a teacher or perhaps an aid – extended the flag across my path as I approached. I stopped, and the last of the students made their ways across the street and into the snowy playground.

She lifted the flag and headed toward the church, her duty done. As she did, I rolled down my passenger side window and called out to her. When she turned, I asked her how frequently she had to stop a vehicle.

“About one or two times every recess,” she said. She, like the students, was dressed for the cold: A heavy coat, a scarf that covered her throat and chin, and a hat that came down to the top of her glasses. A few tendrils of blonde hair had escaped her hat and framed her face, and her cheeks were ruddy from the cold.

I told her that I’d been a patrol boy long ago at Lincoln Elementary and that there was hardly any traffic there, with Lincoln being at the end of a less-traveled street. “In two years,” I told her, “I got to stop one car.”

“That’s all?”

“That was it,” I said. “And it was a glorious day.”

She laughed, as did I, and then she turned to head into the church, carrying her patrol flag, and I headed up the street toward home.

Searches on the digital shelves for “patrol,” “traffic,” and “school” brought me nothing that I cared for this morning. So I searched for “saint,” given the name of the school whose recess parade I encountered. And I came up with “The Saints,” a cover by Little Richard of “The Saints Come Marching In.” It’s from the 1972 album The Second Coming. (Given Mr. Penniman’s diction and my unfamiliarity with anything but the song’s first verse, I’m not sure if the lyrics are the traditional ones or an alternate version, but according to the information at All Music, Little Richard and producer R.A. “Bumps” Blackwell claimed writing credits for the track, so who knows?)