The eastern blocks of Benezet Street off Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill still “dazzle” John Colgan-Davis with their "old world" village charm and layout of mixed styles of houses and yards. (Photo by Len Lear)

The eastern blocks of Benezet Street off Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill still “dazzle” John Colgan-Davis with their “old world” village charm and layout of mixed styles of houses and yards. (Photo by Len Lear)

by John Colgan-Davis

It has been a month of springtime now, and the streets and woods and gardens and skies are all alive to the full rebirth and growth of a new year.

As I walk around, I am quietly amazed at the way every place is just bursting with new growth and new vitality and new color. Pear and cherry trees are in full bloom, and the skies and yards are filled with the sounds of birds and insects re-emerging and feeding and reclaiming space.

I marked papers in the backyard these last few days, and while the constant marking of papers that is a part of life in a private school can be a little tiring, doing it in the garden in the warm sun and amidst the bird feeders can be quite wonderful and peaceful. And I sit out there and mark by hand; no laptop out there. It is so nice to be free of the electronic connection that can dominate so much of my life and keep things old school and simple at least for a while.

Spring affords the opportunity for me to do that, and I both need and appreciate that. I need to be in touch with what is real and be non-virtual for a while. And spring reminds me of just how necessary that is to me. I need to connect with what is really around me.

I have been able to get out and do a little more walking these last few days, and that has also been very good to me. This past winter kept me inside a lot, and the walks I did then were shorter and more practical, less contemplative. I walked up to Chestnut Hill these last few days, and I re-discovered some of my favorite paths.

The two eastern blocks of Benezet Street off Germantown Avenue still dazzle me with their “old world” village charm and their seemingly “zoning free” layout of mixed styles of houses and yards. It always makes me feel wonderful to walk down those blocks.

And there is the Gowen Avenue stretch I call the “magic tunnel”: a stretch of sidewalk where one homeowner maintains a yard and sidewalk with an amazing variety of grasses and flowers and small cacti on both sides of the street.

And over the course of the spring and summer the grasses and the flowers grow to meet overhead and become this wonderful tunnel that I get to not only watch come into being but I also get to walk through several times a week in the summer.

It is impossible for me to watch and travel that tunnel and be in a bad mood. And if I am in one when I turn onto Gowen, I am over it by the time I am through the tunnel. That is magical, and that is a gift. And springtime makes it all possible.

This is quite a lot to get from the simple rotation of the earth and what it allows us to see, learn, see and feel. And it is wonderful. Happy one month into spring!

John Colgan Davis, a long-time resident of Mt. Airy, is a teacher, a thinker and the harmonica player for the Dukes of Destiny, the area’s hottest rockin’ blues band.