PLU # 2243

   One piece of litter, a fast food box, decorates the snow along Riverfront drive. Light snow overnight and a temperature drop make my heart sink – no walking along the Tully today. There is an alternative – my spirit soars – and that is to walk in some neighborhoods in Reading.

   The New York Times headlines on display at the bakery, are about looking for a path.

   A heart image drops in on the electronic billboard at the Penn street bridge. Then the words “We Love Our City” form. Poor Reading, lucky you! A black Fit car with a TIGHT vanity plate stops in traffic.

   Plows work the flat plateau near the Schuylkill. A fast food box in the white road catches my eye. The Aveo fits nicely by the curb at the RACC’s Yocum library.  The three flags, national, state and county, fly half mast at the community college campus. This is for Mike O’Pake.

   A mural brightens the steel railroad bridge at the Franklin Street Guard Lock. A plaque on the bridge shows it was made in 1915 by the Pennsylvania Steel company in Steelton. The mural is enhanced by the bleak winter landscape – made by the Olivets, YAC and a host of organizations. It depicts three children, showing river scenes of old: the Carrie river vessel that once took passengers to leisure areas downriver. What a beauty! A bald eagle flies over the river and treetops.

   I keep walking. Fuzzy cardboard bales stacked on industrial loading docks look like biscuits of shredded wheat. A man uses a  snow blower around the sidewalks at Berks packaging, one of the thriving businesses that quarter here. Under the Bingaman street bridge is written Denis Loves  (an obscured letter)erri and on another post if you like art call [this number].

   My destination is this Canal street neighborhood, including Willow, Minor, Pine and pearl streets, naturally bounded by the river and cordoned off by the slant of Bingaman street, south of Penn. The area retains vestiges of old charm, like an old city should. Two wooden mushrooms  jut out from the transom of a door where Joe’s used to be and Christina’s now operates – cooking aromas mix into the air. Brick sidewalks, old storefronts and a new poster that crosses ONE and UNO. A woman clears her car of snow. As I help her sweep some of the white powder off, she tells me as soon as she moves it from the space she has cleared, someone will move into that space.

   Santos famous sandwiches shop is clean and gleaming on its site, like a flagship enterprise. A white and green frame house boasts fine wood quoins, a rare and fine detail. ROOFING TIN ALCOA and CANDY are the few traces of previous commerce that remain in closed storefront windows. This neighborhood has a vibe like no other in the city.

   A factory near the Liberty fire company has stacks of millstones, nine at a time, used in its construction, a feature I have never noticed while driving my car to this intersection hundreds of times before.

   Going back, I look for the fast food box. It is from Wawa convenience store, Sizzli® Muffin, Sausage, Egg and Cheese. This makes Pick of the Litter. In the warmth and dry of my at-home studio, I can see it is almost as fresh as the snow: PLU #2243 was stamped out on 21 Jan 6:35 AM.


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