Baltimore Cemetery Against Blue Skies at Belair Road & North Ave.

20140907_163321Sunday was just perfect. The temperature dropped from 93 to 78 degrees, and the humidity fell with it. I got my work and chores done early and had nowhere to be, and finally got a bike ride in that wasn’t driven largely by the place I had to be. I had something to return to a store that has an outlet in Canton, so I pedaled off with a vague plan to head southwest, and that’s what I did, joining the traffic on Harford Road before taking right after right after right on my way downtown. I managed to turn on streets I’m not sure I’d been on before, and I watched as the blocks turned from rows of matching brick to vacant flat-faced row houses to that series of car washes on the blocks in Middle East. I rode through a park I haven’t been through in three years, wondered how long its single park bench had been slat-less. I said my how-you-doin’s to the few folks sitting outside on their porches on game day. I crossed Pulaski Highway at some point, and then I was in familiar Highlandtown ground. This used to be a predominantly white working class neighborhood filled with steelworkers who could take public transit to the steel plant. The public transit is long gone, and the steel plant’s closed for good now, too. It’s still a working class neighborhood here, but the workers and the work have largely changed. And then it’s Canton, and it could be anywhere, but on Sunday, it felt like Emeryville out in the Bay Area. I remember when they built their pedestrian mall. They put apartments on top of everything, and I wondered who would ever want to live above a mall. Canton Crossing isn’t for pedestrians, and no one lives above it–yet–but it has that same feel of big boxery in a place that used to be neighborhood stores and homes. And there I was, watching some terrible football at the Red Robin and then wandering Target in search of a bungee cord. I could have gone anywhere else, and I went through lots of other places, and yet this is where I stopped. I guess if they build it, I will come. And then I took a leisurely ride back up the hill and to the left to home, trying to avoid going too far west too soon, because I didn’t want to take Fallsway home like I always do.  I didn’t want to get trapped by Patterson Park or the JFX or anything else that cuts the west off from the east. It worked, and I popped out Milton Avenue at Belair and snapped this picture of the castle that marks the entrance to the Baltimore Cemetery. The sky was just the right blue, and the clouds dotted just enough of it, and as ugly as so much of it is in so many ways, it is just really, really beautiful here.

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