When I retired in 2008, after a half century of university teaching, Susie and I moved from Massachusetts to a condominium in Meadowmont Village in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Susie signed up with an exercise class at the Meadowmont Wellness Center and I began a regimen of year round early morning walks that took me first to the top of the hill at Country Club Road and later past the Findlay Golf Course to the Botanical Gardens. In July 2017, we moved into Apartment Building 5 here at Carolina Meadows. Susie transferred her allegiance to James Ruffin’s 8:15 exercise class in the Wellness Center, and I cast about for a new walking route. I tried walking some roads that border Carolina Meadows (past Farrington Mill Road to the very end of Whippoorwill Lane,) but the early morning traffic got the better of me, and eventually I settled on a walk completely within Carolina Meadows. Rather grandly, I claim it is three miles long, but honesty compels me to admit that it is actually 2.85 miles, as measured by the trip odometer in my car. I start at the front door of Building 5, cross Appletree Lane and continue on Peartree Crescent. Left on Magnolia, right on Hawthorne, and then the long slog past the South Entrance all the way to the circle at the end of Hawthorne. Around the circle and back to Peartree, where I turn left, pass the tennis courts, walk along Maple Lane past the Club Center and Buildings 1, 2, and 3, then onto Oak Lane past the old 100 villas to the Fairways and the pond, left onto Appletree and the 200 villas, swinging around to the right on Appletree, past Elmwood, Mimosa, and the golf course, right around Building 6, and home again.
Since I walk early, always before seven, sometimes before six, and on a few occasions before five, I assumed my walk would be solitary, but very quickly I discovered a rather lively early morning world here at Carolina Meadows. My purpose in writing this blog post is to let the slugabeds know what they are missing. In order to introduce some order into these ramblings, I have organized my experiences into three categories: Cars, Dogs, and People. I’ll cover the Dogs and People in subsequent blogs. Let’s begin with the Cars.
On my very first walk, I encountered those little white cars with the Carolina Meadows logos driven by security personnel. They cruise slowly up and down our streets, available should there be an emergency. I wave and they wave back. The night shift seems to end at seven a.m., and if I happen to be on Hawthorne as that hour nears, several cars will pass heading for the little road that branches off from Hawthorne Circle and loops around to the gated Operations and Maintenance parking area. One of the duties of the night shift is to unlock and open the gate that closes off the South Entrance at night. The gate is opened at 5 a.m. and on the rare occasions when I have walked so early that I actually see the gate still closed, I feel a little secret pride that I am out so early. Somewhat later, the white CM pickup truck will drive by, stopping in front of villas to collect the bags of garbage left at the curb. On Hawthorne, the stops are so frequent that I can actually keep pace with the truck.
My favorite early morning car is the black Nissan sedan delivering the Raleigh News & Observer and the NY TIMES. In the buildings, our papers are delivered grandly to our front doors, but the poor villa residents must walk out to their driveways to retrieve them. There seem to be two paper deliverers – a woman named Tiffany, and a man whom I have seen but do not know. As the Nissan cruises slowly along a street, a paper, sometimes two, will fly out the window onto the driveway. When the man is delivering, he opens the sunroof of the car and papers soar out of the top of the car, landing expertly on just the right driveway. It is all rather theatric. My walk usually occurs during the deliveries, and quite often our TIMES has not yet arrived when I leave for my walk but is lying on the doormat when I return.
I cannot end my remarks about early morning cars without saying a word about the long flatbed trucks with the green Ruppert logos that rumble out of the Operations and Maintenance parking area and deliver power mowers or large rolls of sod wherever they are needed on the Carolina Meadows campus. CM obviously has a regular contract with Ruppert, and it must be a whopper, because those trucks are a regular fixture on the campus. I tend to take for granted the enormous effort that is required simply to maintain our little community, my mind typically occupied with more elevated things, such as [to take an old example from my youth] whether to let Red China into the UN. I am glad someone is taking care of things. Stay tuned for the next installment which will feature our early morning canine walkers.