I’m at Genehouse North in Lincolnwood, just up from Sin City, Chicago. There is a walking path next to my pal Kathy’s condo, so I got in a four mile walk this am. Farmer Orville was cat sitting for Scout, and I was free for a couple days.

There was an old railway bed that had been converted to a trail, lined by houses and long, swampy fields. I jaunted along, and I realized I was greeting every person I passed, a very Southern thing to do, but not the Chicago way.

The towns around here are truly the melting pots one hears about. I passed Asian folks, Black folks, Indian (from India) folks, orthodox Jews, pale tribe folks. It is comforting to see so many tribes of humans passing each other peacefully. And most of them returned my Andy of Mayberry greeting. There were startled glances, some cheery hellos, a God bless you, some silence and ignore, and one 40-something pale tribe woman whom, in response to my “Good morning,” gave me the finger.

There were lots of dogs. Lots of women walking dogs. In the modern era, one does not compliment women. Besides, I’m covered in arm tattoos, my head is shaved, and I could be mistaken for a pirate, or worse a misogynist. Or worse, a toothless old goat who is about as dangerous as a French poodle.

But I have discovered, even a pirate can say to a woman he doesn’t know, “Nice dog,” and inevitably the woman will guide the pooch to the pirate’s outstretched fingers, say the doggie’s name in baby talk, and a chat up begins.

I saw two Baltimore orioles, lots of songbirds. I passed a stretch of flower garden extending for two back yards of houses. The garden’s purpose was to enchant walkers and bikers. I have posted some photos of the garden. It was so unexpected, so artfully composed, and I stood and meditated in awe.

And then I reached the halfway point, and I stopped and stretched my creaky body. A pop-pop here, a po-pop there. And who should stop beside me but a fetching woman in yoga pants and a sports bra and her dog. I was touching my toes. The dog, a brown mutty-type, licked my forehead.

“Nice dog,” I said.

“Brownie really loves you,” the woman said. “Don’t ums, Bwownie.”

“And I love you,” I said sultrily. And the woman whispered spicily, “Take me, Mr. Pirate.”

Actually, I said “And I wuv ooh, Bwownie.” And the woman said, “Aw duh nice man wuvs Bwonie.”

Off they jogged.

Off I walked. A toothless old man who is about as dangerous as a French poodle.



About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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