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Thursday, January 12, 2006

The sound of (early) spring in ONSL

Something about unexpectedly beautiful, warm St. Louis days like this just makes me feel compelled to open up all the windows and put on music, if I must be indoors. I like the idea of people walking around just because it's so nice out, and of someone walking down our block and past our somewhat rundown 1880s house, with its funny little mini-half-mansard roof and its dark brick, and hearing beautiful or cheerful music. I like the idea of people hearing music they would not expect to hear while walking down a street, let alone a street Old North St. Louis. From somewhere behind those brightly colored curtains, there is...a harp? A choir? A synthesizer? Falsetto and heavy bass? Canaries and a wobbly electric organ? HUH?

I don't blast it, but I play it just loud enough to enjoy it and just loud enough for it to be audible outside through the windows.

Last week, on an unusually warm day like this one, I got to leave work early. I walked home in the sunny and beautiful weather, taking a wandering and circuitous route through the neighborhood. Walking past rows of apartments and houses in intact areas of the neighborhood, I got a sense what it must have been like when Old North was at the peak of its density.

I passed gray stone steps. Neighbors were sitting and talking with each other, out there in the open. Sometimes we greeted each other, whether or not we knew each other.

I passed mouseholes (tall, arch-topped openings leading straight through to the back of buildings; originally, when blocks were filled almost solidly with buildings, the people who lived on the second floor of a building would go through the mousehole to access the stairs to their apartment, which were in back.). Each one that I passed punctuated my walk with a brief, transient cool breeze.

I passed windows. Not all of them had screens. In places, curtains or patterned sheets or random snips of fabric billowed out above me, floating in the soft wind. I could hear music, sometimes loud music, coming out of the buildings from inside. It was as if the folks in these buildings were announcing to me, to the block, to the neighborhood "I'M HAPPY THAT IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY!" It was nice. In places, music from separate buildings clashed, and mingled with the sound of conversation--the sound of urban life, as I walked along a mix of brick and concrete and overgrown sidewalks.

So, I open the windows and I play my music. On days like today, I like to contribute to the feeling of my block and neighborhood as an urban place with people living in it, and I like to let everyone know I'm happy to be here.

1 comment:

MH said...

I am with you. I love walking down the street and hearing jazz, blues, etc. coming through the open windows. It is a feeling hard to describe that makes the neighborhood so comfortable. It bugs me when it seems certain houses are always shut tight and there never appears to be any life.

I also love adding to that neighborhood feel by opening the windows and letting my life and activities inside the house spill out to the street.