It's been a rather eventful few days here in the neighborhood. Thursday morning, as I was returning from picking uip a videotape of the latest episode of "24" I saw smoke billowing out of every availible vent of an auto shop on South Halsted. Four fire trucks were already on the scene when I exited the train. By the time I made it across the street from the auto shop two more trucks arrived. Black smoke was billowing out of the garage door by then; some firefighters were worried that they would find bodies in the shop. Twenty minutes later the fire was under control and they were assessing the damage. Soon after the shop owners made it to the scene. Immediately they were swarmed by no less than four board-up companies who were monitoring the fire on scanners- vultures, they are. I left just as the police stepped in to keep the board-up people at a distance and maintain some semblance of order.
Saturday night an off-duty cop who lives in the neighborhood was involved in an accident in tinley Park that killed two teenagers. I ran into his lawyer this morning; he was rushing to court to file an injunction preventing his mugshot from being posted.
After I left for work yesterday I received a phone call from my neighbor, who informed me that police were dragging away someone across the street after breaking his door down. Other officers escorted the man's family out of the house shortly after.
Lots of cheap rent down here in Bridgeport. Those are some reasons why. On a lighter note now that I'm awakened by a pit bull at seven a.m. every morning for a walk I have a great handle of how the neighborhood rises from its slumber. It's beautiful in its ritual.
I can walk Emmy without a leash, so I get to observe at a distance in McGuane Park the Chinese seniors and their daily martial arts exercises. I think it's tai chi they practice- they're out there regardless of the weather conditions. Four times a week they exercise with metal practice swords; twice a week with fans. Mondays are reserved for hand and arm movements. Their moves are measured and deliberate, only using enough energy to complete them. Together they move as one cohesive unit with the wisdom and grace that comes with having lived a long, fruitful life. Part of me feels a serene calm watching them; part of me envies their ease of motion.
Once a week a man uses the softball fields- which have better lighting than some minor league ballparks- a a golf range. He'll stand at one end of the field with a six iron and a handful of Titelists, measure his shot, and calmly loft each ball into the air, where they land within inches of the same spot every time. The man will continue this routine until he's satisfied with his swing or tired. I'm not sure which. He's never rattled.
Emmy and I run into other sporadic dow owners occasionally- owners of boxers, pit bulls, and terriers who need attention and meticulous care. Emmy is two and quiet as a church mouse, so I spend our walks watching her body language for signs she might be excited, agitated, or scared. If she stops and looks off in the distance I take it as a sign that she's spotted another dog and quickly attach the leash so she doesn't go off running uncontrolled. As a two-year-old she's also socially awkward, much like her owner at times. I hope the warmer weather affords us more opportunities to socialize with the other dogs who frequent the park.
Otherwise it's quiet here. Almost suburban, but with character. People tend to keep to themselves, but aren't so standoffish that they won't say "hello" to you when you pass. It reminds me of growing up on the west and northwest side. Not idyllic, but not a nightmare, either.