The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 24, 2004


Country Lines A pathway runs through it

Once in a blue moon, something that initially looks dubious at best turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Such, in my opinion, is the case with the new Bedford Road pathway. When it was first proposed, my husband and I, as abutters, looked at this thoroughfare as nothing but trouble, and we grumbled our objections — "Why build a sidewalk to the ice cream stand?" and "If it is supposed to go to the Banta-Davis fields, why is it on our side of the road?" Granted, we pretty much did the grumbling to ourselves, but when Art Milliken and Gwyn Jones from the Pedestrian Pathway Safety Committee met with us for a site visit, the occasional grumble could be heard. What impressed even my husband (who was the bigger grumbler) was how they listened to our concerns, walking us through the plans and even altering them to accommodate our wishes. From the beginning, they made us feel part of the process, not a victim of it. This applied not only to the committee, but also to Gary Davis and the DPW, who accomplished the work with very little bother to us. When a dying tree on our property had to be felled, Gary asked my husband if he wanted the wood, and my husband, in a Paul Bunyan mood, replied, "Sure!" It was only when we saw the segments of tree trunk lying in our front yard that we realized that that wood would never make it to our fireplace using our puny handsaw. Gary didn't even roll his eyes when we reversed our decision, and within days the trunks were history.

With the path complete, we have found several unexpected boons. My husband, who mows our lawn, likes the defined edge our front yard has now. I love the new vista at the end of my driveway. Not only is the path lovely to look at, winding away to my left, but at last I can see oncoming cars since the trees and bushes at the edge of the conservation land have been cleared. No more holding my breath at rush hour and hoping for the best as I enter Bedford Road. And with people actually using the path, my daughter has big plans for a Halloween display this year that people will be able to see without whizzing past at 30 mph.

Truly, in this whole process, there was only one glitch — after going great guns, bringing the path past the post office, across the street and through Mr. Seawright's woods, the DPW built the path across our yard and stopped. For weeks, the path ended at the foot of our driveway. Pedestrians strolling along suddenly found themselves marooned, with a puzzled expression on their faces. I could tell what they were thinking as they looked at our rusting mailbox — "What was the point of this? Where are the ballfields? Where's the ice cream?" I was reminded of a Charles Addams New Yorker cartoon that I had seen as a child. It showed a mother mouse warning her children to "Beware the house with a well-beaten path to its door." It took my father's explanation of the old axiom "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a pathway to your door" for me to understand the humor, but now the saying came back to haunt me. I felt an unreasoning burden — "Dang, the pathway's here; I'd better get cracking on that mousetrap idea." As I watched people turn in our driveway and retrace their steps (I swear looking a little less chipper as they plodded back towards town), I had an urge to do something to justify their trek — to set up a lemonade stand, perhaps, or put out cafe tables and seating, maybe even offer my surplus garden vegetables as a bonus. At the very least, I thought, I had to get a better-looking mailbox. Nothing was more welcome than the sound of the DPW trucks when they finally returned to the job and the pathway passed us by.

Every weekend I note more and more people using the path; not many bikes yet, but plenty of joggers, families and dog-walkers are out strolling, which brings me to my last reservation about this pathway. I have four Boston Terriers who are convinced that our front yard is their territory and, until the path was created, we did nothing to dissuade them of this notion. I worry about the day they catch sight of some innocent passerby and run out to assert their property rights. So it's back to dog training 101 for us, but even in this my former-grumbling husband has found a silver lining. The other day he mused that it was a good thing that the path was put in on our side of Bedford Road, "so the dogs won't run into the street when they rush out to bark at the walkers." How thoughtful of the pathway committee.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito