High Street: Gibbs Ave to Chapel/Marion Road

It’s over a mile long, parallel to Main Street, and I find myself on it almost every day. It begins on Gibbs Avenue, with the blue and white hospital sign pointing the way. Mulberry Bed & Breakfast and Bladez Hair Salon are on its left side, workplaces and living spaces to their owners. A quarter mile down, Highland Avenue comes in on the right. Morse Avenue  comes next, its sign obscured by the grand Catalpa on its corner. Another few hundred yards along comes the light at Chapel Street/Marion Road. It’s as far as I’ll walk today.

One of my favorite things about High Street is its geometry. I can stand at any telephone pole, look either way, and see all the other poles on the street perfectly aligned with it. If I stand behind one pole, all the others disappear completely. It’s an amazing gift of engineering and craftsmanship. It’s the same with the old trees that line the sidewalk. I take time to enjoy this visual effect at least once a week, an investment of a few seconds to behold geometric perfection realized with wooden poles and living wood.

I know very little about civil engineering, but I know it’s made High Street a good place: a one-point perspective  in three dimensions, bringing with it a life-enhancing sense of proportion and order. It wasn’t created to be admired from afar. It was built for hands and feet, wheels and foliage, asphalt and wires. A public work that works for the public.

High street is a lesson. Skill and vision, with work and good materials, make an artful way to get people from one place to another – a beautiful means to an end beyond itself, outlasting its creators. It’s the same with scripture, poetry, and prayer – words thoughtfully aligned, beautiful in their own right, holy because we walk through them to God.

Question: What do you see on your town’s High Street?

For more information about the Walking Wareham writings, see  the “About” page.

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