Words used to describe this walk: lovely, wonderful, park like, peaceful, big trees, art of Fresno, history of Fresno, diverse, pleasant, interesting, colorful, Christmas, reality on Blackstone, walking in the woods, brutal, different world on Blackstone, convenience, garish, chaotic, and retail services.
Sights: doors, antique mailboxes on VanNess, big box decorations, hired help, dogs, cats, walkers, squirrels, colorful vivid trees, big mature trees, hawk, pinecones, empty lots surprised Walkers, decorative fences and gates, Fresno Bee paper still on driveways, Fresno FAX bus 26 going to Pinedale, full court basketball, Fresno Woman’s Club.
A number of houses and yards stood out because of the artwork. One house had a boat propped at an angle, a small lighthouse, and a canon as part of the landscaping. Another house had a bare tree with glass bottles on each branch. Another house had an extensive rose garden with wooden plaques identifying each rose type. There were a number of fountains, decorative gates, walkways, and arches. Another house had a wooden prayer request box standing at the curb of their yard. Walkers met Dave getting into his car, and he told us that his wife, Linda, and he once saw a prayer box at a house and knew they needed to have one as well.
Sounds: traffic, even at a distance, birds, dogs barking, chickens, leaves crunching, lawn equipment, yard work.
Smells: incense, roses, rose garden, cool crisp morning air, cut grass and piles of leaves, diesel, bagels.
FMWalkers talked about the beauty and majesty of wide Van Ness avenue with towering colorful trees. However, within a few blocks, Walkers encountered Blackstone, with retail, traffic, trash, abandoned shopping carts, graffiti, griminess, and distraught people wandering about. At the corner where we left the neighborhood and turned to Blackstone, there was a dead cat wrapped in a shirt. This caused a reaction in walkers and conversation about how it represented the transition from VanNess to the nearby reality of a harder life near Blackstone. There is a large decorative abacus in front of a bank at the corner of Blackstone and Ashlan. One walker remembers going to a bank there decades ago when she first moved to Fresno. However, it’s been many different banks since then. At that corner, Walkers met Jose who was selling small bouquets of flowers from a white 5-gallon bucket.
There were a few front yard fences, but they were mostly short and decorative. One large house on Van Ness had recently installed a tall black rod iron fence around the property. A few houses had retaining walls for elevation changes from street to yard.
Walkers expressed gratitude for people making their yards beautiful enough for us all to enjoy. This could be a gated community, but it’s not. It’s open for anyone to walk.
A younger FMWalker shared her thoughts that walking on VanNess gave her hope that this is what she could have some day. If she stays in school, works hard, she could be lucky enough to live there one day.
These are our brothers and sisters in Fresno. All of our lives and futures are tied together.