Sunshine, flowers, spring foliage, light rain, no more snow, more daylight hours – what more could you want? While some people love cold weather (skiers, for example), eventually, we all are craving sunshine and warmth. The streets are filled with bicyclists, walkers, runners, kids, adults, and everyone is happy in the sun. Here in Vermont, March and April are not always the prettiest of months (some call it stick season, some call it mud season…there is a lot of brown), so we eagerly await the springtime foliage and warmer days. If you live further south, you’ve been out and about for months in warmth, I know.
Regardless of when this resurgence of green and spring is for you, it is an excellent time to take a look around your streets and your town and to really think about them. Think about street that you like. Have you thought about why you like it? Could you describe it to someone? I’d bet that there are specific aspects of the street that help to shape why you like it over another.
For a fun mental exercise, below are 10 questions to ponder the next time you are out and about. Perhaps you think about these already or maybe it’s a new topic for you.
(1) What do your streets look like? Are they wide enough for two lanes of traffic and parking lanes? Are they narrow city alleys? Where do cars park: on grass, on gravel, formally, informally?
(2) Do your streets have sidewalks? Are the sidewalks level with the travel lane? Are they concrete or asphalt or brick?
(3) Do the sidewalks have distinct curbs? Or is it just a slab of concrete or poured asphalt with a nondescript edge?
(4) Do the streets have green strips? In other words, is there grass between the traveled lane and the sidewalk?
(5) Are the streets filled with trees or void of trees? What types of trees?
(6) Where are the power lines? Overhead or buried?
(7) Where are the mailboxes? At the curb or on the house?
(8) What types of buildings are on the street? Is it commercial or residential or both? Can you name the architectural style? Are they one-story, two-story or more? Are they single family homes, duplexes, apartment buildings, row houses or something else?
(9) Is there street furniture such as benches and trash or recycle bins?
(10) What do you think of this street? Is it pleasant? Loud? Quiet? Aesthetically pleasing? Ugly?
So, what else would you add? Did you discover anything new about your streets? Beware, you may never stop thinking about this now that you’ve noticed these nuances. But, that is a good thing! Understanding your environment aids in understanding your sense of place and in defining why you prefer one place over another.