Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shortcuts

This is Calle Redondo Park, which is just off of Calle Redonda, as you can see from the signage above. I do not know how the City of Phoenix Park planners, mappers, namers and signers landed on ending the park name with a different vowel than the street name. It has to be in the bottom decile for park area--you can measure this odd little triangle of grass and mud in square feet. Or square decimeters. It's small. Some of the regulations listed on the sign are rather comical to contemplate. Use your imagination. You'll need a passel of permits to do anything fun, other than slice across it on your bicycle, if your definition of fun includes shootin', drinkin', listenin' to loud music, driving a motor vehicle, makin' a fire, or some combination of these. And you can forget about golfin'. It's right out.

The relevance of this mini-park to the blog (other than the beautiful green Bike Route sign) is that it represents a pleasant little shortcut on my commute, a refinement to my route which eliminates a clumsy acute-angle turn, stop sign, and associated traffic.

Refining the route is something I've been doing on a bike since I was a kid riding to school--always looking for a shorter, quicker, or more interesting way to get from A to B. It helps if you live in a town where people don't fence their yards. Of course, kids cutting across the yard on bikes is one of the main reasons people want to put up fences, I suppose. I cut out about three blocks from some of rides home as a teenager by connecting a cul-de-sac with another street, past a weeping willow tree. It's a spontaneous thing, hey look, I wonder if you can get through there, Mr. V probably won't mind too much. This kind of exploration ties you more closely to neighborhoods, I think, giving you a sense of time and place, of what is where, and who's doing what, that you don't get in driving in your car, at high speeds, on the freeway. It's a very valued, and often missed, sensation to me: as proprioception is to the body, so this sense of deeply knowing the place where you live and bike (or run, or walk, or lay in the grass watching the clouds go by). It's a connectedness to your surroundings, the places and sensations, the people, climate, geography, wildlife, architecture, changing of the seasons, the whole picture. It's the feeling of knowing which plants or trees will have berries or fruit you can grab on the way home, what time of the year, to stuff your face with. I think you have to feel the fog on your face, and have some of the local gravel ground into your knees, to really know the place. And knowing where the shortcuts are, even having a reliable intuition of where they probably will be, becomes part of the benefit of [insert word with a meaning like proprioception of place]. There was plenty of airborne moisture this morning to add data to that store in my brain. See the picture of Camelback Mountain in the mist, below.

Prior to this post, Google returned no results in a search for "Calle Redondo Park" in quotes. So hello world, here's Calle Redondo Park in a search. One of my shortcuts. Where, if you have the right fistful of permits, you can do all kinds of fun stuff. Although you don't yet need a permit to ride through the mud on your two-wheeler. Get up. Go ride.



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