My dérive

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dérive (or drift) is a journey, purposely unplanned, through what is usually an urban landscape. The purpose of it is to open the traveler’s eyes to the patterns that exist; patterns that we usually miss because we are so caught up in a rush to get from point A to point B.

Here are my results:

I walk through my neighborhood every day with my Schnoodle,
pulling her away from flower gardens, avoiding houses with cats, and keeping a
sharp eye out for delivery drivers since the sight of one will send her into a
frenzy of high-pitched barking.



So I was really looking forward to this drift, since walking
without the dog would allow me to really see my neighborhood. I had decided to
use a set of cards I made to keep me honest.



I walked to the end of my driveway and drew the first card,
a left, the opposite way than my normal walk. Good so far.
At the end of the block I drew another left. This street has
houses on one side, and a park on the other. I look at the houses, searching
for anything I might not have noticed before. I see nothing new so I find
myself speeding up, trying to reach the next corner as soon as possible so I
can draw my next direction. Shaking my head in disgust I give myself a mental
slap and slow down to a the-houses-are-not-a-blur speed.
I reach the corner and shuffle several times, hoping for a
straight, the direction that would take me to businesses that are located just
a couple of blocks away. I draw a card and flip it over. Darn! Another left.
Back into the blocks with houses.
And so the walk continued. Of the buildings themselves, I
see very little of real interest. The houses in the neighborhood are made up of
Cape Code and Ranch style houses, interspersed here and there with a healthy
dose of McMansions.
The real individuality of the residences is shown in the
yards. A perfectly groomed yard with well-defined edges sits beside a natural
habitat wannabe with its abundance of native plants filling every spot. A
vegetable garden, complete with scarecrow and tomato stakes, abuts a
weed-infested mess.
Most impressive are the trees. Tall, majestic, gently
swaying in the wind, they stand guard over the puny little houses, adding much
more dignity than the gold plated house numbers spotted sporadically throughout
the neighborhood.
I complete my drift, but I am not satisfied. I wanted to
find something unusual, something unique, something man-made.
And then I remembered a house several blocks away that I’ve
always wondered about. I headed in that direction, cell phone in hand,
determined to take a picture. Unfortunately the owner of the house was outside
on his balcony, so I had to be quick with the picture so I wouldn’t be mistaken for a
The house itself is not so unique, but the way the owners
choose to decorate it is. In a city full of ordinances and rules, I’ve always
been amazed that the house has remained relatively unchanged for years. The
yard looks much more like a junk yard than anything else. But the junk seems to
be purposeful, since every flat surface has a hand-lettered political message.
My guess is that the decorations fall under the heading of
Free Speech. It is both ugly and interesting. Heavy on the ugly.
I was pulled to take a closer look at this house. So even
though my cards didn’t take me here, I do feel it is a legitimate part of the
Now I feel my drift is complete.

What do you think?