Monday, November 23, 2009

Welcome to My Neighborhood: The Morning Walk (Part 3 – Fresh Pond Road)

The corner of 68th Avenue and Fresh Pond Road marks the halfway point of our usual morning walk. The corner is a transition from the generally clean and quiet residential one-way 68th Avenue to the often trashy, loud, commercial two-way thoroughfare of Fresh Pond Road. At the corner we turn right and head south along Fresh Pond. I have been walking this route over two years and still I do not know if there is a pond, or if it is fresh.

Fresh Pond Road is the other main north-south artery through Ridgewood, Forest Avenue being the other one, but it is a lot busier and more commercial than Forest. Had we turned north rather than south we would have reached the Fresh Pond station on the “M” line in just a few blocks. Fresh Pond is perhaps the part of our walk were we encounter the most people. During the week Myrrhlyn and I occasionally dodge pedestrians as we make our way along what can be a crowded sidewalk. On Saturday morning’s, however, and when school is not in session, few people are out and about.

When school is in session two School Crossing Guards make crossing the busy streets a little easier and safer. The two uniformed women, one a woman of color and the other Anglo, are usually the first two people I recognize on our walks. Someday I must stop and take the time to ask them their names.

Myrrhlyn finds another stick (top photo right). This one is not forked and so the leash does not tangled in it. With the stick in his mouth we pass Mr. Bagel and my mouth starts to water, as it does most mornings. When the weather is just right this bakery, and another one down the block, will prop open their doors, allowing the aroma of fresh baked bread, bagels, and coffee cakes to waft out onto the street. The aroma is the best advertizing money can’t buy. Since I always have Myrrhlyn in tow as I pass, however, I cannot enter to better smell, look, buy and eat.

Further south along Fresh Pond, we pass Catalpa Avenue feeding in from the southeast on our left. Today the sun shines brightly along the route, rising over what appears to be the end of the Avenue. Illuminated by the rising morning sun is the storefront (second photo from top right) of a “Spiritual Reader & Advisor.” A crystal ball, geodes, and candles sit on the inside sill and on the table (third photo from top right), a mixture of New Age and Roman Catholic spirituality with what I assume to be an Hispanic and Eastern European flavor. I wonder if this particular spiritual entrepreneur can read paws and advise Myrrhlyn. If you are a human and your spirit does not find sustenance with the Spiritual Reader & Advisor there is always Beata Bakery (bottom photo right), the second on our walk, next door, and the Polskie Delikatesy further down the block.

The city’s motorized street cleaner approaches from the north, behind us, as it does on many of our walks. The shape, size and speed of the street cleaning vehicle reminds me of a Zamboni and is usually the loudest vehicle we encounter along our morning walk. Marylyn is not particularly fond of it. He seems to be annoyed by it, especially when it kicks up dust. Occasionally we will see it stopped at a hydrant, its driver operator refilling the water tank, preparing to spray some more roadway before sweeping away debris.

As the street cleaner passes I look up to focus on something that catches my eye. It is a seagull, floating overhead, reminding me that I live on an island and that the Atlantic Ocean is only a few miles away to the south. Without the occasional gull and warm, humid air serving as sensory reminders, I could easily overlook the fact that I live in a coastal environment.

At the southern end of Fresh Pond, where the thoroughfare dead-end intersects with Myrtle Avenue, we reach the boundary of the neighborhoods of Ridgewood and Glendale and the end of the third leg of our morning walk. Turning our backs toward Glendale we pivot right onto Myrtle Avenue and head west, toward home.

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