Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Fall is in the Air, so Chill Out and Slow Down

By K. Taylor, Aurora ON.  Fall is in the air, so chill out and slow down. Ah, here we are. Though our days still smack of summer there’s the tantalizing first hint of a delicious chill in the evening air. Even the sun’s getting back into an earlier bedtime routine and the house is filled with the hum of the washing machine, churning load after load of long sleeves and sweaters, ready for folding and stacking on shelves in anticipation for crisp autumn days and cosy nights.

And as we all know, back to fall means back to school. We live very close to our local school so we walk the route daily, though in truth I’d make them walk even if we lived much farther, I’m mean like that. And in order to plop that rosy apple on the teacher’s desk, we have to…cross the road.

“Why the drama?” You ask.

“You clearly haven‘t tried walking around school time.” I answer.

Unfortunately; along with the slow cookers, warm sweaters and early nights of the season, comes a somewhat manic, frazzled feeling. Endless school forms; after school programmes; routines we’re not quite back into yet – all add a level of tizzy to our dizzied minds. If you look closely beneath the tan, many parents sport a sort of harried, dishevelled, hectic aura.

“Fall is in the air, so chill out and slow down.”

At first this seems merely amusing; but it takes on alarming seriousness once said mom or dad is in charge of 4000 lbs of metal; hurtling down the road that your (decidedly lighter) child is trying to cross. Then that grizzled zombie seems a whole lot scarier.

Ours isn’t a particularly difficult road to cross. I have friends who practically write their wills and take out extra life insurance every time they cross their intersection at Hollandview and McMaster. That place is like the Bermuda Triangle of Aurora, only instead of sucking in planes it sucks in common sense and general courtesy. No one who passes that way on foot will come out the same; be warned.

Personally, we’re the lucky ones. We have a crossing guard at our street. But not all intersections do. And it’s not just the streets, it’s cars darting into the parking lots and the kiss-n-ride; it’s parents ridiculously anxious to get the closest parking spots along the road at all costs.

“Take a deep breath, take your foot off the pedals and pay some attention to the road folks; or leave a little earlier and try walking. Fall is here, it‘s time to chill.”

I should mention that not all drivers are this way; some are courteous beyond measure. Stopping far from the crosswalk to be sure they have a good sightline; making sure all pedestrians are well across before they go forward and -oh bless their cautious hearts- making sure that any very young children are firmly under control of their adults so there will be no darting back onto the roadway. To all of you I can only say that I, and walking parents everywhere, thank you and love you for it.

But for the rest…well; it’s not Frogger people. These aren’t pixelated frogs and they don’t get to win extra lives, they are real kids.

We now have some new, shiny, rather splashy fluorescent yellow street signs with clear silhouettes of walking children at our crossing. Maybe they will help the situation. I live in hope.

At the end of the day (and earlier, about 8:30am actually) I don’t give a hoot about your meeting, the traffic you think you’ll encounter, the fact that the dog stole the last of the toast or that little Addison, Ainsley and Aiden are screeching in the backseat because the in-seat entertainment system is on the blink. Take a deep breath, take your foot off the pedals and pay some attention to the road folks; or leave a little earlier and try walking. Fall is here, it‘s time to chill.

K. Taylor
Aurora, ON


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