Sunday, February 08, 2009

All on a sunny afternoon

It was another beautiful day here. I walked for almost an hour and at one point got so warm I had to unzip my fleece. Of course I'm no gauge for the warmth. Everyone else was in tshirts. Some even wore shorts.

I've been getting bored with circling the McCompound so today I decided to check out the neighborhood behind the gate near the recycling bins. The entire complex is fenced and the gate is locked so the only way to get there directly would have been to crawl under the gate. I opted to circle around by the main road instead. It was surprisingly far up the hill to the entrance and it wasn't a pleasant walk with the traffic and narrow curb.

According to the map there should have been two circles and the long access road. The map was really off. No circular neighborhoods at all and the access road was rather short. At the beginning there were very official looking warning signs forbidding entrance to any but residents and their guests. You might have thought you were entering an exclusive enclave for the wealthy. But it was only a miserably unattractive trailer park.

There were a few nicer well maintained units in the rows stacked one on another with a driveway in between. Most of them looked like retired shipping trailers that had seen one too many deliveries although the cars in the driveways were almost uniformly late model flashy SUVs and luxury sedans. There were no flowerbeds in the postage stamp spaces in front of the trailers but incomprehensibly, as I neared the gate to the McCompound, I found a swimming pool.

It looked so out of place in that sea of tin boxes. A six foot red brick surround, laid in a fancy pattern, held a decent sized rectangle of water, thick with pine needles congealing on the surface of the water rendered aqua by the painted concrete. All guarded by a no nonsense chain link fence that boasted "Get Lot Information Here" on a huge orange sign. It sat on the top of steep hill and the road, punctuated by the cascading tin rooftops beside it deadended into a big pond that holds the overflow from the septic system. In other words, an authentic Southern working class neighborhood.

It was remarkably lively. I can't have spent more than ten minutes traversing the main T, yet I saw at least a dozen people on their way in or out. It was a surprisingly mixed neighborhood. I saw middle aged and verging on eldery white people. A couple of sets of 30ish white guys, driving trucks with ladders in the back. A young Hispanic family with the children impeccably dressed, probably on their way to the mall. And one 45ish black guy trying to clean out the bed of his aging pickup. His garbage can was already full. He eyed me suspiciously before he returned to half heartedly rearranging whatever mysterious contents remained in the bed.

I looped past him and was soon within the sight of my gate again. The choices were to circle back around and deal with the unpleasantness of the main road or roll under the gate. I chose the gate. It felt like falling through a gap in time. I headed down the pavement to walk the last lap in an entirely different world. The south is funny like that.


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