I thought about all the lovely places I’ve been with my books, and the people I met there, what I observed, what I knew, and what I thought I knew. “I want to live where there are sidewalks,” I said. Everyone laughed. “Sidewalks?” “Sidewalks are important?” “Yes. I’d like to be able to walk to somewhere, as in a destination: drug store, post office, neighbor, I don’t know. Somewhere. Sidewalks make a neighborhood, where kids trick or treat, and folks wave when they pass by walking their dogs. Sidewalks make community. I’d like to live with different ages, different cultures, all passing by on the sidewalk, saying hello to one another, passing houses that are all different.” My adult kids were puzzled. I grew up walking on sidewalks. They did not. Dave did. He understood, but he was surprised by my response. We’ve lived in 11 homes; I loved them all; only one had sidewalks that didn’t lead anywhere.
When I return from a book trip I talk about the unique place I’d been; often they are small towns, but with something interesting and unique to tell about. Not that I wanted to live there, just that I’d enjoyed my visit there. And so it was that he surprised me last summer when he announced he’d rented a place for three weeks in Edenton, NC, next November. I love visiting Edenton, that’s true, but, three weeks? How about a weekend? He thought we should really experience living there for a while. So here we are, it’s November, in Edenton, and we’re sidewalk walking, trying it on for size.
The funniest thing about sidewalk walking is Buddy. He just can’t get the hang of it. You see, Buddy is used to walking through the woods, in the road, on the left against traffic, in case there is any. He’s a nice leash walker, but crosses when he needs to, always staying on the left side of the road. He just knows that; amusing, yes. But now we’re on sidewalks. No woods; just grass next to the sidewalks. He pulls to cross streets to get to the left- hand sidewalk, taking heel position to a new level. Once he’s comfortable on the left-side sidewalk, he’s faced with the next conundrum. Which side of the sidewalk should one pee on? He weaves back and forth from one grassy side to the other grassy side. There’s a choice to be made; grass left, grass right. If he decides to lift his leg on the right-hand side of the left-side sidewalk, he must first turn his body around. He can apparently only lift the left hind leg! Is that normal?
We enjoy meeting folks on the sidewalks, stopping to admire their roses, visiting with painters, and walking along with the postman, who delivers mail on the porches. Buddy watches that with interest and waits for her to rejoin us. Buddy’s delighted to discover the local folks carry dog treats in their pockets. Dog walking on the sidewalks of Edenton is like trick-or-treating every day for dogs! I think Buddy could adapt to sidewalk walking. We’ll walk over to the hardware store later and buy something. Small town living at its finest.