Just One Block
I decided to challenge myself with composing a post on one city block, down near the university. I chose the block bordered by University and SW 1st Avenues, and SW 10th and 12th Streets. It’s kind of a large block, since there is no SW 11th Street to break it up, and it’s a very interesting block, with both residential and commercial areas. Gainesville is a very green city, both in color and attitude. Nearly everywhere you go, there are trees, vines, and plants.
At the corner of University and SW 10th, you get a glimpse of this attitude. A garden has been planted here, just beyond the city’s main street. This area of the city is full of older homes, mostly converted to student rentals.
One of Gainesville’s finest features, its abundance of trees, adds to the beauty of this urban neighborhood. Everywhere you look, trees line streets, branches shaking hands to create a tunnel of green light.
Crepe Myrtles bloom forever in this climate, starting in early spring. Although they come in several colors, the magenta is perhaps the most common and the longest lasting. Most of the white blooms have died off by now, but the magenta still blossom.
Another common flower is the Lantana. There are cultivated Lantana and wild Lantana, leggy Lantana and bushy Lantana. When I was younger, I loved Lantana for their size and perfection. Each cluster of blossoms is just the right size for a doll’s bouquet.
At the outset of my wanderings, I thought I would do a whole post on doors. I love doors and am fascinated by them. Other things caught my eye, however, so the doors will have to remain just a small part of the whole. Many of the homes around here are still graced with their original doors, or replicas of them. Before the big box stores, even the humblest house had a handmade door, with its own personality. Doors are still available in a breathtaking variety, but so often, price rules the day.
Gone are the days of the white picket fence, when a front yard fence was a mother’s helper and an introduction to a home. Fences like this are a remnant of another era, a time of neighbors that weren’t walled off from each other.
Despite a new emphasis on Front Porch Communities in urban planning, the front porch is another feature that is falling by the wayside. Originally built as a cooling device that would both catch breezes and shade a home’s windows, the porch became an emblem of southern hospitality. Porches became gathering places, almost as important as the house itself. As air conditioning has become more prevalent, the porch’s meaning has lessened so that scenes such as this are hard to find.
Around the corner, back now on University Avenue, city life is thriving. Relatively quiet in these weeks between semesters, at this hour between bankers’ hours rush and retail openings, the traces of heavy traffic are still evident.
Although fewer trees line the street along University, pockets of green are still visible. Vines almost entirely cover the Alligator building, which is set back from the building line, so that from the sidewalk, the hint of green looks as if it might be a pocket park.
Mothers, if you have sent your student off to University of Florida, there is a good chance that this is where you will find them. No matter how grown up they are, they are never far from a Mother’s love.