Observations while walking

I’ve been walking every day for about three months now. This has given me a wealth of insight into how my neck of the woods functions which I was not aware of when I was more housebound. Here are some of my observations:

* This is a “duh” observation, but being outside and seeing the world in ways that exceed walking to and from a big-box store, a restaurant, or your workplace, gives you a completely different feeling about reality. I’m sure that if I hiked or camped or hunted, this would go up another few orders of magnitude, but since I am an avid indoorsman, that won’t be happening. This is probably as much nature as I’m going to willingly experience. With that said, my subdivision is basically a big forest with lakes and creeks in the middle of it, and I see deer, turtles, vultures and other things as I walk, so this isn’t a heavily suburbanized area.

* Kids don’t play outside much, if at all in 2009. While I don’t want to overplay the “back when I was a kid” angle on things, I think that kids did play out way more back then, and that this number has been progressively declining since the advent of game systems. When I was a kid, I think that my brothers had played outside way more than I did a decade earlier when they lived in the city and did lots of stuff. I grew up in the burbs and was hardly playing outside all the time, BUT, I do remember playing variations of “go fish” with the neighborhood kids, riding bikes, exploring around my subdivision, and so on. When I walk, I almost never see kids of any age on the streets, running around, or anywhere. I don’t walk past our pool, and I know kids go there more than anything, but still, there doesn’t seem to be any version of neighborhood football, baseball or anything going on.

Additionally, lots of folks have big playground-type equipment in their own back yards. These include swings, slides, and that stuff. I have never once seen a single kid on these units. Of course, I’m only walking once a day, often at night, so maybe my timing is just off. But I find it hard to believe that kids are playing on these things all the time and I’m always missing it. I think that kids just can’t be bothered with this stuff and that parents buy it for nothing. The parents think it will be great and it ends up being a gathering place for wasps nests.

On a couple occasions I have seen some teens walking from one place to another, but that’s about it. I guess most little kids play inside, watch TV, play video games, or maybe play in their driveway. I don’t see the old neighborhood pack of kids around.

* I rarely see adults outside either. In most cases when I do see adults, they are working on their yard, working on a car, or messing around in the garage. I have seen some poker games going on in garages, some birthday party crowds, and an occasional porch-sitter, but overwhelmingly people are inside.

It is sometimes eerie how desolate it seems out there. I am walking by homes with people in them, but you almost wouldn’t know it. The streets are deserted, all I hear are bugs and birds, and it’s lonely in the middle of a bunch of houses. A contributing factor is that all the homes are built far back from the street and there are no sidewalks, so there is no sense of community, rather it is isolated homes that have trees between them. It is the quintessentially American idea of “leave me alone” that wants as much land as possible and as much distance from neighbors as possible. And since I know a bit about my neighbors, I can’t say that I disagree in reality with this approach, though it feels wrong.

My Commute

A lot of folks have the idea that the entire East Coast is a concrete jungle. When I say that I commute for an hour, people envision cars backed up for miles and hot tempers. But mostly I drive by longhorn steer and horses. Here are some examples:

Vint HillThis is near work, where I turn onto the back roads.

IMG_0015A farm near work, the angle of the cell phone makes the fence look weird.


IMG_0018The railroad stop in Catlett, a small down.

IMG_0019A house with a hedge in Catlett.

IMG_0020Fields near Catlett.

IMG_0028Farm living is the life for me.

IMG_0034A hilly road.

IMG_0035A farm near the Rappahanock.

IMG_0041The Kelly’s Ford Equestrian Center.

IMG_0044The Inn at Kelly’s Ford. Kelly’s Ford is the site of a cavalry skirmish during the War Between the States.

IMG_0048A one-lane bridge that I have to cross.


It seems like everyone is leaving the blogosphere for Facebook and Twitter. Millions of blogs are now un-maintained and decaying like the online detrius of a flimsy revolution. I have been a reader of blogs since almost the beginning, so this is odd to watch. Facebook seems even more like just shouting at each other than blogs do, which is hard to believe!

The bright side: my blog may now become famous! By sheer persistence, I will be one of the few blogs left that actually gets a post every once in a blue moon. My stubbornness will result in blog world domination! Of course, no one will read it anymore, but I will have won!

Recent reads

The End of the Historical-Critical Method, Gerhard Maier

Angels in the Architecture, Jones, Wilson

The Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Theses On Worship, James Jordan

The Best of the Public Square, Book Two, Richard John Neuhaus

The Cult of the Saints, Peter Brown

The Country Parson, George Herbert

Close Distance

     Sometimes, the way things are seems very strange when you think about it. For example, imagine two buildings across the street from each other, both are offices of about the same size. These buildings house two different companies. Every day, people drive down the same street from different places and arrive at these same two locations. They work, talk, go to lunch, work some more and then drive home.

     Physically, you could walk across the street and enter the other building. You could go there and walk around, seeing what this building is like and talking to the people in the various cubes and offices. But in actuality, you can’t do that. It may be fenced in, or require a badge to enter, or have locks that keep you out.      More importantly, these two companies may be in completely different fields, so that you stand little chance of entering the other organization, even if you want to. The requirements of the organization across the street might be for completely different skills than you have. They might have age requirements that bar you from working there, or it might be the kind of organization that has sites all over the country and if you were to work for them, there would be no guarantee that you could work in the location across the street – you might end up in Alabama instead. And yet, you can look out your office window every day and see the folks over there walking to and from their cars or smoking a cigarette.

     I find this notion of physical proximity and relational distance to be extremely odd. It doesn’t seem natural that you should have no idea who the folks across the street are, what they do, or where they live. Sometimes this can be different offices inside the same building, which is just as odd. In the historical past that I imagine, I cannot conceive of people working on the same street and not knowing each other. The butcher and the tanner across the street from each other must have known each other back then – no?

     But this relational separation exists on many more levels than just that of the office. I don’t know much about most of my neighbors – where they work, their names, what they are like, etc. Frankly, the ones that I do know I sort of wish I didn’t, but that’s my problem. Churches might be on the same block, or in some close proximity to each other, and yet have absolutely no idea about each other – who the congregants are, how they worship, what they believe, how they serve the community. It’s as if spatial proximity means nothing in the modern age. This seems wrong and disordered somehow.


I am trying to keep the Poinsettia that we got at Christmas alive. I’ve tried this before but I think I killed the plants from cutting off too many leaves. This time, I let the flowers and leaves naturally die off and have done nothing but water it. So far, so good. It’s been alive for over two months since we got it, and it looks ok, if lopsided.


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