READY: Watching the entertainment on Kelly Street

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

In his masterwork “Walden” Henry David Thoreau pens a chapter entitled “Battle of the Ants.” From his cabin near Walden Pond in Massachusetts, he tells of watching ants from two adversarial colonies.

Sitting quietly on the ground, he watched and recorded their human-like behavior for over two hours. As a naturalist, that was his form of entertainment, I guess.

Lately, I’ve become absorbed by the activities on Kelly Street and have spent hours watching from my window or front steps. Maybe I’m easily amused.

The day the bulldozer broke down just behind my car in what’s left of my driveway, I watched as the beast was ministered to by crew after crew of “fixers” who arrived.  Trapped from going anywhere, I devoted the afternoon to observing them as they tried to get the thing going again.

It wasn’t as boring as it sounds.

It was also kind of fun when one of the workmen tried to divert me from driving on Kelly Street when I was only two houses from home. I stopped, rolled down my window, and tried to explain that the detour would keep me from getting to my house. He kept pointing to the detour route, and I kept trying to explain it was impossible, that I would just be going in circles. Finally, I jumped out of the car, walked towards the house, and pointing to my yard, loudly proclaimed “Mi casa esta aqui.” That did the trick, and he let me get home.

Another source of entertainment was watching the transformation of electric power from one pole to its replacement. Since the existing power pole was smack dab in the middle of the proposed sidewalk expansion, it was marked with the scarlet letter “X” for removal. After installing the new one, closer to the street, huge Gulf Power trucks with basket lifts hoisted up linemen (do they still use that term?) to do the wiring transfer.

Now that, friends, was entertainment.

The rejected pole is still in place so I look forward to watching them dig it up or whatever is done to an ex-power pole.

Since my dogs took up the watch from the window seat, barking wildly at the monsters outside, I sat on the porch steps and observed the fascinating operation for nearly two hours.

Crews from the telephone and gas companies have also provided entertainment along with the concrete truck pouring the sidewalk in front of my house. It’s quite diverting to watch the garbage truck, Fed Ex truck, and mail carrier try to skirt around the big equipment out in the street. And when two cars collided in the middle of it all, a fire engine, ambulance, and two police cars were added to the chaos.

One of my neighbors stood out in the road yelling at speeders who apparently weren’t daunted by the presence of road equipment and emergency vehicles. I don’t usually care for salty language, but on that occasion it seemed to help.

Especially, since Kelly Street is Destin’s version of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Now why is an old retired lady, with seemingly nothing better to do, share these moments of watching the world outside?

For one thing, it slows me down and allows me to observe the interactions of other human beings. And that’s been both comical and impressive. Spending the time watching the various crews shows me how things are done, and I’ve always been interested in the creative process. No, it’s not a work of exquisite architecture going on out there, but it’s the good, honest labor of human beings at work to improve roads and sidewalks. That deserves respect.

I was working in my garden when one of the Gulf Power crew approached me to apologize for the expected power outage as the lines were being switched over. He seemed quite surprised when I responded pleasantly to him and told him I would say a prayer for their safety as they did the procedure. I guess they’ve had their share of disgruntled folks who have no tolerance for inconvenience.

My “people watching” as the many construction activities take place outside my window has brought me insights and entertainment. Now, I know how a storm drain is done, but more important how people work together to achieve a goal.

Hmmmm. Maybe my next watching should be on a bench at Walmart, observing the motley crewe of humanity, passing by.

I wonder if Thoreau would have been willing to join me on that bench.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.