In Praise of Alleys

If you have been reading my blogs and seeing pictures of the landscape that owns me, you know that I live in a beautiful place. Looking out the window of my house, I can’t see the valley floor just three blocks west, but I can see the snow-capped mountains above the house across the street.

And so it might come as some surprise that although I love the landscape and Westcliffe in particular, I celebrate the alleys that run behind the houses. The alleys are a perfect example of that old saw: one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Westcliffe’s alleys speak to the past. They speak to simpler times, to making-do, to hanging on. History lurks. Ghosts whisper.

For those of us who have had enough of driving down the Interstate at 80 mph, who have had enough of corporate-think and incessant texting, walking the alleys is a respite.

The wandering bear cubs, the grazing deer and the waddling skunks take us outside our heads. There is nothing like the acrid sweet smell of skunk to clear your sinuses.

You’d be hard pressed to find a smart-phone in an alley. And that’s to the good.

I think of William Wordsworth‘s sonnet: The world is too much with us; late and soon / Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; / Little we see in Nature that is ours; / we have given our hearts away.

I find it interesting that Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) was writing in response to the pressures of the First Industrial Revolution. If he thought that he was stressed at that time, I wonder what he would think if we were to wake up and walk about today.

Typically, if I wake up after 3:00 a.m., I listen to BBC World which is followed by “Morning Edition” on our local PBS station. How much news can a person take? Not too  much. Too much leads to depression. Walking down an alley or taking my ease farther afield is the best antidote.


Writers’ Trigger:

  • Where do you go to be alone? Keep in mind that you can be alone in Cafe Nero, yoga class, or in a public park.
  • Sometimes we are most alone when we are in a crowd. Write a short scene in which your main character is “alone” at a party, a sports event, a family reunion or at-home… perhaps in bed with a lover.

taking my ease under a big sky

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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