Amblin' Alameda: Alameda on the move

Amblin' Alameda: Alameda on the move

Morton Chalfy

To get to an unusually early appointment Monday morning, I was up and out of the house by 7:30 a.m. Okay, you can cut out the derisive laughter now, those of you whose days are well under way by that time, and try to remember that some of us don't usually rise until a later hour and that we're not slackers but retirees and the like.

At any rate I didn't mind the hour as the sun was well up, the air was pleasant and the street I live on was full of kids going to school: Elementary school kids walking one way and high schoolers the other. The arrival of spring and warmth is immediately greeted by the teens in high school with short sleeves and short pants, with lots of bare flesh hanging out and not getting goose-pimpled. Ah, youth and the warmth of the still-new internal fires of life.

Those are the walk-to-schoolers. Plenty of other kids are driven to school, and the line of cars leading to the drop-off points of those schools is always long and crawls slowly, forcing traffic onto other streets if it wants to get by.

Many people are commuting to work or to transit points leading to work, and those drivers produce a sort of pressure on the whole system to keep moving. It's "don't stop, oh for goodness sake don't stop there you'll hold up traffic" sort of pressure. One's wits have to be firmly in place and well focused to join this polite scrum.

My appointment lay west of my house, so the drive there was unencumbered by the rising sun. The return home, however, was into the eye of our solar system's power plant and as such was hampered by sun blindness as at that hour of the morning its rays beam directly down Central Avenue. One learns to drive by feel, by squint, by peripheral vision and by luck and by great good fortune I got home safely.

And what a difference an hour makes! The kids are in school and off the streets, the cars that delivered them have gone back home or onto work, the workforce that commutes has mostly left the Island and what remains is the quiet village of mid-morning. If one doesn't rise early or go out in the evening one could miss the vibrancy of life that Alameda has.

That morning scrum, that dance of awakening and getting out into the world to do one's thing, that mix of cars and kids and workers and stay-at-home-moms (or dads) is the pumping life's blood of the city. Like spring, which is covering Alameda in sweet smelling blossoms right now, that morning dance is evidence of the vibrant life that surrounds us.