Author Topic: A LONG ROW TO HOE  (Read 2677 times)

Michael Erlewine

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A LONG ROW TO HOE
« on: June 18, 2015, 09:52:24 »
A project that I have wanted to undertake for a number of years is getting a revival this spring. It has to do with alleys, those service drives that run behind homes here in this country. I’m not sure how the rest of the world treats alleyways, but they probably have something similar.

We all have quirks. One of my quirks is that I like to look at a long view until it vanishes in the distance. It could be a sidewalk, row of trees, back-country road, or my favorite, a two-track in the woods that creates an almost infinite tunnel into the distance. I don’t feel the same way about underground or railroad tunnels. I like, as Pharrell Williams put it in one of my favorite songs, “Happy,” a “room without a roof.”

I know. It could be the onset of tunnel vision, but I don’t care. I like it anyway. This fondness for straight lines flies in the face of all my studies of cycles, circles, and non-linear dynamics, not to mention my interest in process more than results, but there it is. One of my favorite morning walks is down an alley where I can see straight-ahead for almost half a mile. Best of all, most of that walk is gravel and sand as opposed to concrete or tarmac. I like the feel of a dirt road under feet, and just walking on it.

I do some of my best thinking walking down that alley. Sometimes I am it its end without knowing how I got there, but not that often. Mostly I savor each part of the alley, each back yard, garage, barking dog (not always) – and what have you. And I have a real thing for alleys, especially like they used to make them when I was a kid.

Lucky for me, I live in a small town where the alleys are still wild and undisciplined. They rule! Up here in northern Michigan, we still fight to tame our alleys. When I visit Ann Arbor, where I grew up, I see that their alleys have all been sanitized, even manicured. What once they struggled to subdue (the wild growth of vegetation) is gone or perhaps only featured a little bit here and there. That makes me sad. What a great loss!

Here in Big Rapids, Michigan, where I live, the alleys are still rude and unruly. Vegetation pours forth from the backyards, surrounds and climbs all over some of the garages and out buildings, and has an almost infinite amount of hiding places and bushes. All kinds of abandoned flowers and plants have taken root, and you never know what you will find.

I am not so crazy about all the trash and unwanted things that folks here put out for pickup, but in this town there are whole tribes of folks who stalk the alleys with trucks and take away almost anything of value before the sanitation trucks get it. We not only have recycle, the townsfolk do it on their own, sometimes myself included. More than once I have been seen to hurry home and get my car to rescue some orphaned table or chair.

Walking on the sidewalks in front of all the houses is OK too, but not nearly as fun as walking those back alleys, hidden from sight by the overgrowth, with little puddles from recent rain, and stealthy cats slinking along in the underbrush, and lots of wild rabbits. Every once in a while, if I am out early enough, I have met a skunk, and regularly the odorly remains of skunks.

This battle against the underbrush that lines the alleys in Big Rapids is still in full swing. I hope we never win that war as Ann Arbor apparently has. A manicured alley is basically an oxymoron.

[Photo of part of our “rails to trails” pathway that stretches for something like fifty miles, from near Grand Rapids, through our town, and on out of town I don’t know how far, I believe, all the way to Cadillac Michigan. This was taken with the Nikon D810 and the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO lens.]
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com, Daily Blog at https://www.facebook.com/MichaelErlewine. main site: SpiritGrooves.net, https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine, Founder: MacroStop.com, All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, DharmaGrooves.com

simato73

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Re: A LONG ROW TO HOE
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2015, 13:17:00 »
"Back alley" for me conjures the image of a more or less narrow passage cluttered with unsightly items and showing the unfashionable rear side of dwellings, not this semi-urban paradise.
Simone Tomasi

elsa hoffmann

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Re: A LONG ROW TO HOE
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2015, 13:26:48 »
lovely image Michael and a great idea

I think we would more than likely call those things "lanes"

Tree-lined Lanes.
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Binga63

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Re: A LONG ROW TO HOE
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2015, 13:57:30 »
beautiful image ....I too tread the roads less traveled :)

Frank Fremerey

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Re: A LONG ROW TO HOE
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2015, 15:56:09 »
Longing. Destination. Mystery
You are out there. You and your camera. You can shoot or not shoot as you please. Discover the world, Your world. Show it to us. Or we might never see it.

Me: https://youpic.com/photographer/frankfremerey/

armando_m

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Re: A LONG ROW TO HOE
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2015, 22:13:15 »
that lools like a great path for a long bike ride
Armando Morales
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pluton

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Re: A LONG ROW TO HOE
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2015, 08:28:54 »
This a photo of an alley, with houses on each side?  Looks like a beautiful place to hang out. 
Keith B., Santa Monica, CA, USA

Gary

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Re: A LONG ROW TO HOE
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2015, 08:44:55 »
That's not an alley, it's a nature preserve.
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Fons Baerken

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Re: A LONG ROW TO HOE
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2015, 15:40:16 »
Country-lane,
the highlights on the rightside trees are distracting, price you pay when the iq is nearing perfection.