When leaving City Park, I walk north on Walnut Street to West Washington Street. I proceed down Washington Street to Sheetz (for a bottle of water), then south on Cannon Avenue to Mill Street, through Hager Park, Municipal Stadium and back to my home. My pedometer shows 5.5 to 6 miles.
This is an invigorating walk and never boring because of the atmosphere at the park and the interesting sights I see walking through the heart of our city.
My favorite walks are not along the streets of Hagerstown, but down the alleys.
The views from the streets are those intended to be seen, the public view, the proper view. But, as I turn the corner and stroll the narrow lanes behind the houses, they are something of a secret place, a private place.
And there lies the mystery, much in the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window." I hone my senses when entering the alley. The aroma of coffee from an open kitchen window, the garages designed for Model A's, the laughter from a patio party, the curious pussycat, the family spat or stopping for small talk with a housewife weeding her garden - these are the experiences of the alley.
I take a walk back in time when the alleys were my playground. I remember climbing on that shed roof, learning to ride my bike with my dad there to catch me, or an after-supper game of "kick the can" with my friends.
If I'm looking for architecture (and traffic), then I walk along the street. But when I'm looking for the real fabric of the neighborhood, I find it when I'm walking down the alleys.
In January, I realized I needed to get serious about dropping that "20 pounds" I'd been talking about losing. Bundled up against winter chill, Pangborn Park became my walking goal. Pathways wound through gardens that began to show spring growth. I added a hat and sunscreen to my attire. Shade trees bloomed and flowers increased. Ducks had their young and became testy as walkers cruised by.
As my stamina increased, I expanded my walks up the hill to Mulberry Street, Potomac Heights, Hamilton Boulevard and Oak Hill Avenue. There are many interesting gardens in yards and alleyways. Statues, huge potted plants, birdhouses, ponds with fountains are sprinkled throughout.
Roses and hostas are in full bloom with clematis, hydrangea and black-eyed Susans. Small wall alcoves with an urn, cool porches with wicker chairs and fireplaces abound. There is something unique around each curve. The whole area is lovely and tied together with flowers, shade trees, sidewalks and roundabouts.
I have much enjoyed my walks and regularly stop to smell the flowers or pick up a bit of litter or weed. Life is too short not to. I have lost those pounds and lowered my cholesterol as well. Keep walking.
When I was working at a bank downtown 10 to 15 years ago, I loved to walk from the first block of West Washington Street to Prospect Street to Park Circle and back to town via Summit Avenue.
On West Washington Street were some interesting buildings, including the Miller House.
Sometimes the hill would seem a little high, but on Prospect Street it always seemed a little cooler with the streets lined with trees.
There are some older homes with nice architecture as well as more modern ones here and there.
The Women's Club always looked very neat and proper. I would see the nursing home where I had visited my grandmother years ago.
And then I'd spy the park, and felt like I was out of town for a few minutes. What a beautiful place our City Park is.
On Summit Avenue, I'd pass a beautiful stone church and some older well-kept home high on the hillside. The Herald-Mail building with its huge machinery caught my eye.
I'm slower now, but like to reminisce about my lunch- time walks.
A fellow teacher and I walk and talk of students each evening. Trumpet practice or the Municipal Band provides background music when we meet at Summit and Reynolds avenues.