Embracing the Art of Idle Observation

Images from our daily walks during quarantine

noun, plural flâ·neurs  [flah-nœr] . French.
idler; dawdler; loafer.

I never considered myself a Flaneur before. While I do live in the City and do a lot of walking: to work, to the convenience store, to the park, for fun with my family, I never considering my daily walks idle strolling. 

Coronavirus has changed that. It has locked us inside except for our daily walks. Our walks keep us sane, allow us to get a breath of fresh air, and let the kids run off steam. They reveal new details in my surroundings I never paid attention to before. 

I’ve grown to appreciate the art of idle strolling and observing my neighborhood in new ways. Our family searches for the clovers in the windows, which turned to rainbows, and now are Easter bunnies and eggs. The angel sculpture at Wolcott and Augusta started wearing a mask. The slight change in grade on the sidewalk near our house has become a favorite ramp my kids race down with their scooters. With three young children without a sense of personal space and required distance, neighbors kindly give us a wide berth, often moving to the street to pass us by. 

We see the sidewalks become crowded when the weather warms up and thin out again on cold evenings. We watch the runners, dogs and puppies, of which there are many, pass by. 

We can tell which houses and apartments have young families by the artwork decorating the windows; we appreciate architectural details on old houses that normally get overlooked. 

Now, as in times of crisis before, people pull together. From the friendly wave, to the knowing smile from fellow parents, our walks have become the best part of my day. I idlily stroll and observe my neighborhood and the people around me. I always notice something new. When we slowly return to the routine of our everyday lives, I hope our family, and neighbors, keep up our quarantine tradition of wandering without purpose.