Walking

I can walk to school, so I have been doing so. I have discovered that Westminster must lie on higher ground than where I live. It is not flat, the way from here to there, but I think it is mostly uphill, going.

Sidewalks are a bit more random here in the Philadelphia suburbs than I had expected. There is a direct way to school, but it involves small but arterial roads with heavy traffic, so I go more indirectly, winding a bit. The obliging thing about the way I go is that there is quite a bit of shade.

If you haven’t been out here, you ought to understand: getting around in the car is different. You can’t think freeways and grid. That is not how things are laid out in the Philadelphian suburbs. What you have to think is diagonal options and darting short-cuts. If you think freeways and grid, you will be baffled, frustrated and lost. But if you study your map, make your connections, renounce the impulse to find an expressway, and take delight in finding reclusive ways, then you will succeed. It is a spider’s web of meandering country pikes, with many things to be seen and found. If you are that lumbering, steadfast driver who is always put out by not having things as plain and obvious as possible, you will not like it here. I was talking to a Peruvian chap once and he said that in the USA there are more accidents because usually you can drive without paying attention. In Lima (as in Bogotá) you absolutely cannot. It is a bit like that here, and if you enjoy driving, despise freeways, don’t shirk mental effort and have a swift little car, it is not bad. One other thing worth keeping in mind is that the same road can suddenly change its name at any given intersection. And, speaking of intersections, you have five-way intersections more than you would think possible.

So the quickest way to school would take me along these two-lane roads that have sidewalks at random intervals and often meager berms. I avoid that, therefore, and wend through the adjacent neighborhood, through the town of Glenside in the township of Cheltenham (I fear they stress the first syllable in Glenside and do not pronounce Cheltenham Cheltnum, the way it ought) under most stately oaks. It takes a good thirty to forty minutes, and the humid August is not conducive. But I hate to drive when I can walk.

I hope to do a lot of reading that way, and to find all the closer delights of the place, and range far afield. I should have a lot of reading since I can do five of my classes that way. I’m hatching a plan to see if the great man will let me study the relationship between Neoplatonism and Christianity throughout the ages in a series of connected independent studies.

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