Here is the object of the walk, not for mere exercise. Certainly it supplies that. Yet, there is no soul in such a thing. Every morning where I see the exercisers, many of whom have reached an age like mine. I arrive in the mall before any store has opened because we have to prep our own establishment for the day. I have no key and sometimes I have to wait until a key-holder arrives to unlock. As I stand there or sit on the leather-like benches they come parading around me.
It is interesting to study these mall-walkers. Some come in clusters, chatting as they chug; others are alone. There are several, almost all men, who use canes. There are those of casual attitude, who take a leisurely pace and even say hello. One elderly man with a cane always greets me with a "how are you?"Then I wonder, though, when I say elderly now, if that old man is older or younger than I? Strange thing this being a seasoned citizen.
Then there are the serious type, all solemn and business. They walk briskly pumping their arms. A few wear pedometers strapped about the biceps. Here comes a person hugging the wall, staying precisely on the border tiles all the way around, forcing upon themselves the longest route possible.
Sadly most of the loners show little gladness in their jaunt. Most are grim faced, many look as if they have been condemned to some circle of Hell where they must trod around some sterile hallway for eternity.
I think, I imagine, I pray and I dream on my walks. I remember the past; I blue sky the future. I am refreshed and renewed and reminded of what could have been and what once was.
That is a park, not very old. It is a nice park, nothing fancy. It is called the Woodhaven-Krouse Park and when you go up that drive there is a pavilion, a children playground and some long looping paths to amble.
It is all open and free.
But it wasn't always so free here.
When we first came down this way a women's prison stood on this sight. There were often escapes and we knew when one occurred because we would hear the helicopters circling around and around our yards. There was always some concern because the prison sat upon a hill and the hill looked down on the Little league fields and an elementary school. But all these things have changed as has so much over the years.
In the center stands some remains of an old stone building.
The name of this building was Woodhaven.
On the corner stone is this inscription: Delaware Industrial School for Girls 1838.
Long before the Women's prison this was not a place of freedom. It was a reform school for delinquent girls.
The Industrial School gave way to the prison and the prison gave way to time around 1990. The old building stood empty for several years. The stories are it was haunted. Visitors to the empty halls say you would hear whistles and whispers. Finally they tore it down and now it is a lovely little park where the only whistles and whispers you hear are the breezes through the trees...maybe.
Just up the road from the park is this side drive. If you went up the gravel lane you would find a complex of baseball fields. These are the local Little League Fields of Dreams.
My son played on these fields for nine years and was captain of his championship team.
And overlooking the ball fields from the other side is the elementary school. My children went here once. I helped build the playground here what seems a long time ago now, working with the then principal, Mr. Ellis, who was a man who cared about the children.
Mr. Ellis is dead.
And a couple years back they closed the school.
Now it is being prepared to be the new home of the Boys and Girls Clubs.
I didn't cross and enter the property. Just recently a man entered the old school and raped a woman there. It didn't seem a time for a strange old guy to wander about snapping pictures.
So I headed home.
I turned into the streets of the development before my own, snapping the still early morning street with amazement that I still was able to.
My batteries had been dying since I started out over an hour ago. It had reached a point where my camera shut down after every photo I snapped. Yet it still allowed that one snap first.
But never mind. I am moving ever closer to my home community.
I am just going to enjoy this last mile in peace and quiet.
It does look serene, doesn't it?
No one really out and about, except nutty me. The sky a nice puffy cloud white and blue.
The air is cool today. I haven't even worked up a sweat.
Yes, peace and quite.
Except there may be peace here, but it isn't quiet.
Normally all you would here this time of day would be the birds catching their early worms.
But up this side street someone else is up early. I do not know what they are working on, but I hear them for there is a jackhammer chopping away at a hard surface somewhere.
Perhaps a new driveway is being built.
I don't know what is disrupting the tranquillity, but my batteries have just failed and I am almost to my own community, so I head home and leave this morning jaunt feeling good.
Until I actually got home and went to sit down and pain attacked my foolish knees. I don't care, I'm back to walking.