The distance from my house on Hollenbeck Avenue to the end of Lake Mansfield Road is about one mile. It’s a beautiful walk past the lake, and if I turn around and walk home the same way, it’s 2 miles. If I turn left onto Christian Hill Road and walk past the Fairview Commons nursing home and just a bit down the hill, that’s 2 miles each way. We humans are advised to walk just about every day. It’s good for the heart and good for the soul. I have a pedometer app on my phone and if I walk 4 miles, about 10,000 steps, I get an alert. I live for that alert. I confess that there are days when I don’t have time to do the whole 4 miles at once so I split my walk into two sections. It’s interesting. Most days, I pass the same people. Almost everyone gives a perfunctory wave. Some run, some walk, some bike. In the end, we are all doing what we think is right.
Anyone who has been on that road knows that the well-posted speed limit is 20 mph. People being what they are, many, many folks exceed that speed limit on a road that has more curves than Marilyn Monroe. It seems incredible that no one has died, but I am here to assure you that some of these cars are traveling at 50 mph. Not only that, some of these very dangerous folks compound their sins by throwing garbage out their windows. Put another way, Donald Trump is not the only maniac out there. When someone is obeying the speed limit, I give them a smile and a wave. When someone is being dangerous and stupid, I tend to offer them the universal salute. By the way, gender has nothing to do with it — I’ve seen both men and women exceeding the speed limit. Perhaps they are going fast to get to work, maybe at the nursing home.
There are signs posted reminding us to “share the road.” Some of us walk facing traffic, but the road itself is in such bad shape that anyone like me with a bad back has to be very careful where they are stepping. Now, of course, the geniuses who run the town want to pave the road. We all know that if that happens, the crazies who are already driving way too fast will drive even faster. If the police do their jobs and start handing out tickets, the word will get out and people will slow down.
I don’t have to tell you how wonderful the Lake Mansfield beach is. What I particularly like about it is the eclectic nature of the people who use the beach. One foolish man has been articulating his view that those of us who live on Great Barrington’s “Hill” are an elitist bunch with a lot of money and that we see the lake as our own private preserve. I am here to tell you that many of our neighbors are anything but wealthy. I can’t tell you how often I see our Latin-American neighbors bringing their families to picnic by the lake. The guy is just plain wrong. In fact, what makes the “Hill” so wonderful, and always has, is the mixed nature of the houses and the people who live in the neighborhood. One can only wonder what it is that would make people want to start Trump-like trouble by lying and setting people against one another.
The town has a wonderful facility. It is there for all of us and it is my hope that everyone in the town uses it. The more people who use it, the more support it will have and the more people will be around to protect it.