Past Canine Confrontations
Before I talk about dogs and walking in Libertyville, I need to tell (I hope) an interesting story that occurred over 35 years ago. I was living in Switzerland with my Swiss girlfriend and her parents at the time in a small village named Hinterforst (behind the forest). My girlfriend's father owned a window manufacturing plant and found me a job across the street so my commute was measured in seconds, not in minutes or hours. To keep this Guest Worker busy the father figures he needs to work at my firm -- building high-quality windows and doors. This was the fall and during my free time, I'd run up and down the foothills of Eastern Switzerland, near the Rhine Valley, which separates Switzerland from Austria. Anyway, some farmers would allow their dogs to roam and sometimes confront me as I slowly ascended the hill. What to do? These dogs prevented me from actually running several courses I had mapped out. After several of these experiences, I mentioned this to several co-workers at the plant in my limited German and one fellow had a solution – he gave me a blank-firing gun to scare off the dogs and avoid that tenuous situation.
My motivation wasn't to hurt them, just clear them out of the way so I took the gun home to show my girlfriend and explain my reasoning for having such an object. Shortly thereafter, her mother got suspicious and wanted to know the essence of our conversation. I sheepishly showed her the gun and she went ballistic (sorry for that pun) at the idea that I would bring a gun into her home. I tried to explain it was without bullets and she wasn't having any of that. It could have been a squirt gun and she was going to be opposed to even a gun that only shoots water. Trying to reason with this woman might be compared to such feats of climbing Mt. Everest or hiking across Antarctica. Please believe me, my previous statement was not hyperbole.
Moments later, as we were standing in their long brick corridor separating the sleeping rooms from the rest of the house, I don't remember pulling the trigger but I'm in a vulnerable position to do something crazy in my subconscious. The sound was deafening, My girlfriend and her mom immediately gave me that disgusted and disappointed look (which I've seen plenty before) as we scattered to separate rooms as our ears were still in much pain. Shortly thereafter, I felt bad that I couldn't experiment with how effective is a gunshot sound to a charging dog. I felt devastated that my girlfriend and in particular, her mother, had to endure this pain. I knew at that moment the gun wasn't going to be used as a deterrent for the local dogs.
I was worried that my free lodging and job was going to be taken away from this American. If not, then I worried about further straining the relationship with her mother, who was cold and put offish from our initial interaction. Why tell this story that occurred 35 years ago? Perspective and context are needed to outline how walking in Libertyville are quite different from those foothills in Eastern Switzerland. Dogs are plentiful in Libertyville but I've yet to have a close call. Most dogs in the area are not that mean! Some dogs approach within 15 feet of the sidewalk and just bark and let me know they are just protecting their owner's territory. You'll occasionally see a dog bark behind a storm door or one that barks at you as you walk by their fenced in backyard but that's it. Indeed, I would not need this type of Swiss blank-firing gun based on my walking experience around suburban Libertyville.
I like dogs, I grew up with them and when our kids were growing up, we had a Bichon that we rescued from a hair salon – it was living there as it was abandoned. Having said that, many moons ago, I was a paperboy in the early 1970s in a working-class community and dogs were not always my friend. I've mentioned this before but the person who delivers an object every day to a homeowner, who may use that same white object when it came to punishment, may work for the homeowner, but not to the paperboy. So I had several close calls while delivering the Racine Journal Times and I'm not shy saying those close calls may have a psychological impact when you're younger. Some mental health providers may say I was canine traumatized but maybe that's said by those providers that are uncertified? Plus, the types of dogs that some subscribers had are not the types of dogs I may see when I walk various neighborhoods of Libertyville. So I still approach dogs, regardless of the neighborhood, with much caution, and, potential love.
My Basement Treadmill is Experiencing a Slow Death
As I mentioned earlier, walking is a hobby and activity I try to do every day since the shutdown that occurred in March in Illinois. I belong to a Libertyville health club but health clubs here have been closed until early July so an individual like me needs to find various safe ways of staying active whenever possible. I have a treadmill in my dark and cool basement which I haven't used this summer – I'm certain several coats of dust now populate the handles and screen. This treadmill is at least 12 years old and one that I used regularly years ago when I didn't have a health club membership.
I used to complain that a consumer would spend a thousand or more on a treadmill that's now stored in the basement and collecting dust. I'd say, "If I had exercise equipment, I'd always use it, why to invest in the exercise equipment that wouldn't be used." I failed too and fell into that same trap. So instead of a cool, quiet, and dark basement, I brave the sun, humidity, hydration, traffic, and motorist noise to explore the many interesting neighborhoods of Libertyville.
Hammocks are quite common now in several centrally located parks in Libertyville. Mature trees will fit the bill as long as two of these mature trees are fairly close together. When you find this situation, you're also guaranteed much shade so sun protection is typically not an issue. Sometimes, kids will use a park pavilion as a day base camp and still be protected from the sun's strong rays.
These young people could be perched off the ground and hang for hours at a time. It must be comfortable or is it just trendy? Also, many of these shaded areas are secluded, some they're provided some privacy. Jobs are the less commonplace this summer so hanging out in hammocks in semi-private public space has become quite common among many young people. I can't equivocally say the exact age of those occupants but my guess is their age is between 15 and 20 or so – high school and college-age kids. They can hang 3 or so feet off the ground and find comfort in just hanging out with their friends in more ways than one. I don't know what occurs inside some of those hammocks but that's not my business. Therefore, as I walk past these kids hanging from the trees, I just smile and walk on by.
About two months ago, my daughter and I went for lunch at the Glen area – this area used to be where the Naval Air Station was located in Glenview. Today, the Glen contains Pleasantville type homes that were built in an urban-type fashion with proximity to the next. These residential neighborhoods surround shops and restaurants and are the heart of the Glen business area.
What do shops and especially restaurants do during COVID-19 to stay afloat? It appears the Glen city planners and small business owners eliminated all diagonal street parking on the main street and converted this to a sidewalk and bike path. By doing this, all sidewalks could now be used for outdoor eating venues. It was nice to see so many people relaxing at this new arrangement while some wore masks and maintained an effective social distance.
My daughter and I enjoyed the outdoor dining space at the Curraugh and while we walked her dog, I imagined this entire street could be closed to pedestrian travel – at least during the warmer months to give people an experience of car-free shopping experience.
In a perfect world, I wonder why they allow motorists on this street – I get delivery trucks but why not make this entire main street car-free? It's certainly common in many parts of Europe and some areas of forwarding thinking planners, why not here? Realizing we have maybe 6 months of cooperative weather, making this change this summer was the best quick thing they could do. I wonder if this arrangement will continue as people appreciate a car-free zone and give them more room to walk and relax and pretend they are walking on the via dei Condotti (Rome) or La Rambla (Barcelona).