Because my 8-year-old daughter is into alley walks, and I: her unreasonable and unyielding mother, will not let her walk the alleys of Chicago alone, I have been going on alley walks lately, usually starting before dusk and ending after dark.
These walks have led to all manner of interesting conversations, including why someone would paint red stripes on their garage gutter, how electricity works, rain run-off on concrete vs. pebbled parking areas, how sewers work, why there are so many mattresses in alleys, and what graffiti means. Also, due to the walking, and the uniquely relaxed nature of alley walking, much stream-of-consciousness thoughts and questions are shared by the little thinker, including:
Jessie: How tall is a yay?
Me: A yay?
Jessie: You know—something is yay high?
Jessie: What would you do if you saw someone walking away from you but it turned out they were really walking toward you?
Jessie: What would you do?
Jessie: Can we make a deal if we find something cool that's clean, we can keep it?
Me: It depends on what it is.
Jessie: Let's say an iTouch.
Me: You think we're going to find an iTouch in the alley?
Jessie: Thanks for walking with me.
One finds all sorts of interesting things on alley walks, including enormous garages that must have been stables at one point, hidden parking lots, electrical generators, and trees growing out of garages. The smells are surprisingly nice too, including burning wood and flowering trees. I highly recommend alley walks.