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Nightly walk offers new perspective

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As the glorious spring weather has arrived in our neck of the woods, I’ve once again been enjoying an evening walk through my neighborhood a few times a week.

No, I’m not breaking any speed records, but I’ve found that keeping a steady but gentle pace allows me to see my own little corner of the world in a whole new way.

As I may have mentioned, my neighborhood (which is near Goochland but not quite in Goochland), is the sort of place that some might describe as “eclectic.” We are a charmingly diverse mix of ages and backgrounds, with plenty of both come-heres and always-been-heres. People wave to each other when they pass on the street and offer to help when someone gets stuck in the snow. We have no Home Owners Association, no rules about what color you can paint your front door, and an ad hoc policy on lawn maintenance that goes something like this: If you want to mow your lawn, great. If not, well, it’s your lawn.

As one might guess, walking through my neighborhood can yield plenty of interesting sights if one is willing to look. One day a few years ago I walked past a woman walking a pig on a leash as nonchalantly as if it were a French poodle. Another time I saw a couple installing what looked like an old clawfoot bathtub in their front yard (I later learned they were using it as a planter).

I love seeing renovation projects get underway, as families tear down, add on or fix up various parts of their property. One family a few blocks east of my house, possibly tired of entertaining friends and family inside their tidy but relatively modest home, added on a new deck that was bigger than the house itself. A few streets down, a retired Army colonel spent almost a year building a two-story colossus next to his home that his neighbors began calling the Garage-mahal.

Of course, there are plenty of things to wonder about when you happen to be wandering around in this way. Did the homeowner at the end of that one street paint his house neon green to tick off his neighbor? Was the antique fire engine sitting in front of the little white ranch decommissioned after helping save hundreds of lives? Did the man who likes to sit on his back deck and pick his guitar on summer afternoons ever dream of packing up, leaving our little corner of the world, and heading to Nashville? Who knows. But I like to think someday he might.

Perhaps my favorite spot on my walk these days is a house up the street that was vacant for almost a year before a new family moved in. While the property had looked dull and sad before, it wasn’t long before the new owners began making it their own. Within a week or two a boat appeared in the yard. Than another. A bevy of trucks and tractors, a camper, then a trampoline and a play set. A few weeks later, a hot tub appeared next to the front porch.

Now this set up might not have been appreciated in some neighborhoods, and it certainly would draw the ire of most any HOA. But each time I happen to walk by and see the kids playing outside or the family working in their garden, it’s hard not to be happy that they found their own little slice of heaven.

As for me, I still enjoy living where I do some 20 years after we first moved in. It isn’t grand and it isn’t perfect, but I love it for all its oddities and quirks, its pigs on parade and unusual paint colors.

Would I turn down a trip to some exotic locale or an adventure an ocean away? Probably not.

But after all my wandering and wondering, my own wonderfully weird little corner of the world is still my favorite place to be.

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