Bass notes reverberating from open car windows, children laughing as they try to conquer hoola hoops, birds singing in still barren trees, and the ice cream truck preemptively summonsing eager buyers...the sounds of warm weather were all around me last week as the temperatures rose into the 70's for two days. The highs today are in the mid-30's with a cold rain and heavy sky, so last week was a mere fore-shadowing of days to come.
My office space is in a mixed-use neighborhood near our small downtown with apartment buildings right behind and on either side and a liquor store two doors down the street. None of the apartment buildings have a real lawn, so children often play on the parking lots. The proximity of downtown businesses and the liquor store means that there is foot traffic most of the day and into the night.
I often joke that I can come and go anytime of the day or night in warm months and hear conversation on the street or apartment residents talking from balcony to balcony. Often, I see the red tip of a cigarette that signals someone is taking a smoke break on the exterior stairs. Other times, I can hear a single person seemingly talking to himself as he takes a cell phone call out of earshot of the sleeping people inside.
Now just over a year since I relocated here, I feel at home. The address of 303 N. Fountain means that I am three blocks from the river. I love being able to see the bridge from my window, and I am proud of being a "downtown" business (or at least on the edge of it). The bells on a downtown church, the low hum of river barges, and the rhythmic rumble of a passing train are welcome sounds that appeal to my poetic side.
I have to admit, though, that some of the realities of the coming summer are not so welcome. Increased foot traffic means increased trash. The parking lots are also more likely to be the scenes of loud disagreements in the summer. And the bass notes reverberating from open car windows gets tiring. My "not used to downtown" clients can also be deterred by the bustling neighborhood. Then again, they seem not to hear the poetic sounds, and they cannot see the bridge from their office window!