Reflection on Walk #52 from Dakota and Effie, at the Senior Resource Center. On July 4, 2015, at 7 a.m., nine Fresno Mindfulness Walkers gathered in the parking lot. Three were first time Mindfulness walkers. This walk covered the neighborhoods behind Manchester shopping center east to First Street, and between Dakota and Shields. At 7 a.m., when we gathered in the parking lot, a man was walking up and down the sidewalk talking loudly to himself, occasionally shouting and punching at the air, and dancing.
Walkers began winding through a few older neighborhood streets tucked between Manchester shopping center and Hwy 41. The neighborhood and freeway were separated by a small grove of trees that was fenced off and locked from the neighborhood. Walkers commented that there was no wall to buffer the traffic noise from this neighborhood.
Common themes on this walk: huge trees that provide nice shade on the streets and sidewalks. These older Fresno neighborhoods are a mix of run-down homes mixed in with well-kept and remodeled homes. The trees are also a mix with many well-maintained over the decades, so they are tall and balanced and healthy providing much-needed shade. There are also large stumps and trees tilting over, diseased, or badly pruned. While many neighborhoods surrounding this one have front yard chain-link fences, these neighborhoods have very few front yard fences and few dogs barking at us from within the fences. Walkers noticed rod iron on the doors and windows. Most front gates we did see were decorative.
Walkers strolled the campus of Manchester Gate Magnet School of Fresno Unified. The school is fully fenced, but a gate was open, so we walked through it. Walkers told us the school is the same as it was 30 plus years ago when they attended. Old style drinking fountains were still attached to the walls but didn’t work. One FMWalker noticed that ‘peep holes’ had been put in the doors.
At First and Shields, Walkers found a closed but unlocked gate into Manchester Park. This park is a flood control water basin, but with a baseball diamond and backstop. Walkers observed trash and an unexpected wheelchair parked alone in the corner of the park. Walkers saw a small playground and park benches and an empty wading pool that looked like it hadn’t been used in years. A few walkers remembered this wading pool from many years ago.
Walkers strolled through the alley behind apartments and met Noah who was collecting recycled items from the trash bins. He told Walkers he made about $10 per day, and that’s all he needed. He often sleeps in Manchester Park. He has a family member who lives in these apartments.
Descriptions for this walk: memories from my childhood, evolving, zeroscaping, freeway, trees bigger than houses, mattresses, house façade variety, broken sidewalks, and shopping carts.
Sights noticed on this walk: empty wading pool, broken wheelchair, mattress behind backstop, bbq and chairs in front yards, front bistro table locked with a heavy chain, a house covered with marble tile, painted rock yard, power lines above ground, huge trees, unique porches, waning gibbous moon, and fruit trees with ripening fruit.
What Walkers did not see: no un-marked loose dogs, few front yard security fences, no front yard barking dogs, no kids out playing or riding bikes, only one roof with solar panels, no grocery stores, and only a few American flags since Walkers expected more because of the July 4th weekend.
Smells: pine needles. But surprisingly, no breakfast or food smells. One Walker mentioned that Manchester Gate School smells the same as it did when he attended as a child.
On First Street, we walked through two Armenian churches right next to each other. At Pilgrim Armenian Church, Walkers met Kevin Casper who was preparing his sermon for the next day, Sunday, July 5. Walkers looked at the dry fountains, and Kevin told us they haven’t worked in a while due to plumbing issues, and that someone stole parts from the fountain. Also, because of the drought, it didn’t seem responsible to get them working again. There is a beautiful Margaret Hudson art clay statue in memory of a church member. The entire church is gated and locked, but we entered because Kevin had the gate opened while he was there for a while in the morning.
Walkers returned to the Senior Resource Center, and the same man that had been walking and punching and dancing at 7 am was still there doing the same thing. Walkers talked about his high energy level and wondered where he ate his meals.
These neighborhoods are full of our brothers and sisters in Fresno. All of our lives and futures are tied together.
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