My palms are bruised, my knee is skinned and a good pair of white jeans will never be the same — all because I happened to glance at a shrub while walking along Diablo Street.
Should have known better: That sidewalk has tripped me up before with its wildly uneven paving. It's not just me: My boyfriend has also fallen. When Mom visits, we don't walk on Diablo at all; we detour via Jefferson, which is marginally better underfoot, for our daily trips to the supermarket.
In my neighborhood, it's not unusual to encounter sections of pavement that have been uplifted by tree roots to the height of four or five inches; many smaller cracks and heaves lie in wait for the unwary. It's not only dangerous, but bespeaks the kind of urban neglect I mentally associate with wind-blown garbage caught in chain-link fencing.
It used to bug me that stretches of north Napa neighborhood streets don't have sidewalks at all — what were the planners and developers thinking? That kids would travel to school via hovercraft? — but now I actually feel safer walking on the sidewalk-less parts of Diablo. The surface provided for cars is better than what we walkers get.
Trim your trees, please
Another plus to walking in the street is that I'm less likely to have various body parts engulfed by rampant vegetation.
Why do people think it's okay for their shrubs to leaf out across half the sidewalk, or to let their trees grow until an average-sized person has to duck to get past them? Do they think passersby don't mind having to dodge into the street to avoid getting their pant legs soaked with dew and leaves in their hair?
Do they think at all? I ask myself that every time I pass the house where for years now a boat has been parked on a trailer that's too long for the driveway.
So as not to inconvenience themselves by getting a trailer that fits on their property, or finding a better place for the boat they almost never seem to use, the residents confidently keep it right on the premises with its hitch almost completely blocking the sidewalk (and invisible in the dark).
Of course, that's standard operating procedure for folks who choose to buy trucks longer than the driveways of their homes: Sidewalk-obstructing SUVs are practically too numerous to mention. But just like the trees and the trailer, they push pedestrians off the one place that's supposed to be for walking, not parking or planting: the sidewalk.
So I can't end my rant without a shout of thanks to the folks on Yellowstone who recently got their sidewalk replaced: Well done, folks, way to be good neighbors! My feet, my knees and my hands all thank you.
Do you have a complaint, about walking in Napa or any other topic you'd like to air? This is our weekly Sound Off column, so go ahead and let us know what you think!