So goes the song, and so it proves to be. When did this happen? I think back to the long post-midnight walks I used to take all over town and I seem to remember overgrown streets in deep shadows that it was fun to disappear into before you came into the next orange streetlamp halo. There were plenty of bright spots around the main drag, around the park and the tennis courts, you know, where you’d expect them, but am I just looking back at my old wanderings through night-coloured glasses?
I haven’t been walking in way too long, as you might have guessed, and it’s funny to rediscover something that was such a basic part of my nights for so many years after I moved here. Some things were wonderfully the same. Winter air still makes the blood hum and exposed skin zing, and now I’m looking forward to it being cold enough that I can go walking in my old police-surplus greatcoat (and when I get back maybe I’ll play some Spiderbait and Bush and watch some Z-grade horror flicks on videotape for the full Matthew Revisits The Mid-90s experience). I fell into my old nighttime quickstep nice and easily. The crunch of sneaker soles on asphalt still sounds the way it used to.
But seriously, where did all the light come from? I was noticing it by the first intersection. It took me a moment to realise why I kept looking around, and then I worked out that I was looking for where the trees had used to be. There have never been any street trees around that intersection, but the light was brighter, which made the whole space look brighter and more open than I expected, and I associate that with tree-clearing, don’t ask me why. I’m sure clearing has happened along the riverbank, because there’s a playground there that wasn’t there before and the big spreading tree that used to have a rich green floodlight lighting it up at night seems to be gone. That plus the bigger, redeveloped Leagues Club across the water makes lights up that whole stub end of the street. Less gloomy, but harsher. If I actually had moved into that weird octagonal block by the bridge (say, for example, I hadn’t found mushrooms growing on the carpet when I went in to inspect) I’d have had to invest in some heavy curtains by now if I wanted to sleep.
The stretch ’round the corner to the roundabout is bright and clean too, although that’s less of a surprise. I remember the works that trimmed the heavy foliage on the roadsides right back and repositioned the footpaths in so they didn’t snake right into the hanging branches. I can understand that one. The old paths were cool and picturesque but they must have been a real happy hunting ground for muggers if anyone was coming back to the east side on foot after a night at the pub. And the big conifers a couple of corners away from home are still there, and as I came past were giving off a beautiful, astringent scent that the cold seemed to sharpen.
I know I’ve said this before, but I need to keep exploring. I’ve fallen out of touch with my town, I think. Too many late nights on the Internet.
On which note…