In a previous posting I talked about my lifelong obsession with paths and county lanes. These old cities, with houses and businesses packed so close together, are filled with an abundance of narrow streets and alleys. Before the days of cars and trucks, these same lanes began as much traveled paths. They were small but bustling thoroughfares filled with people, animals and carts.
Today they have taken on a much different connotation, especially for tourists. We all get anxious when we feel displaced and on unfamiliar ground. A lot of people are very fearful of getting off the perscribed route. Some folks won’t travel at all for fear of finding themselves on unfamiliar territory. While alleys can be a welcome shortcut for locals they can also be a forbidding mystery for visitors. They can be a comfort for residents but filled with potential risk and danger for strangers who have very little idea where they lead or what potential danger may be lurking around the curve or at the far end. And yet I’m drawn to these dark passages, forever wondering how they fit into the immediate geography.
Now I’m not reckless or crazy, I don’t go trudging down alleys after dark. But, like most scary things around us, I find that if I try to overcome my natural reluctance and attempt a lane or two I usually learn a lot about the jigsaw puzzle around me.