Reporting from the Suburbs


Stuck Inside the Suburbs

I met Joe Bruner at a recent class I taught about blogging. It turns out he already had a fine blog, writing mostly about his travels, called Easin’ Along. I’d encourage you to check it out. He has a smooth writing style and interesting observations which I really enjoy. Here’s Joe on his experiences last Saturday:


As an avid and loyal reader of Inside of Knoxville I am aware that there is usually always something going on downtown, especially on Saturdays, but on this Saturday I wasn’t too certain about that.

I awoke this morning around 4 am.  The thermometer on my clock read the outside temperature at around 18°. No longer able to sleep, I turned on the television and learned that almost two inches of snow had fallen overnight, and that there was more yet to come. One peek through the shades confirmed that a snowy day was in the offing and a cold one at that.

Being one who loves snow, I sat at my desk and peered out the window staring at the falling snowflakes that were illuminated by the post lamp in my front yard. Not much else moved until around 5 am when Bobby came driving through the neighborhood, dutifully delivering the News-Sentinel. I rose to let Wilbur, our grumpy, fat, cat out the front door, knowing that he wouldn’t be out there long. As I opened the door I was struck by the quiet that greeted me…total…complete…quiet.

Just One Set of Tracks on the Lonely Avenue

Living where we do, on the western side of town, it is rarely quiet. If there is no traffic on our street or the adjoining roads, there usually is noise coming from I-40 approximately a mile away but, today, there was nothing. On this snowy Saturday, it was all quiet on the western front, and I wondered if it was like that for my friend Alan and the rest of you snowbound urbanites. Thinking it might be a tad slow on Gay Street and the surrounding environs, I grabbed a thick jacket and my camera as soon as daylight erupted and marched out into the neighborhood to gather material for a report from the suburbs in the event that you might be worried about us.

At that hour (7:30-ish) there had been no traffic except for the aforementioned Bobby. His tire tracks were the only markings in the snow as he had driven in and out of the neighborhood. Many birds were flitting about in search of breakfast. I photographed a couple of Cardinals at our bird feeder, but most of the birds were across the street where Joyce had only enough time so far to fill one of the ten feeders she hovers over. Two Bluejays were busy keeping the Finches a good distance away. The resident groundhog had chosen to stay in his culvert this morning rather than pick up the spent seeds from Joyce’s birds. He’ll have plenty to do once everything thaws.

One Lonely Bird
One Hardy Neighbor

Even in temperatures this cold, one fact remains indisputable…dogs have to be walked. Mrs. Johnson was out and about already, holding on to the leash restraining her sweet, one-eyed Boxer.  I assumed she was taking her pooch up for morning coffee with Sarah’s blind Bassett. Rumor has it that they’re an item, but I like to think that they’re just keeping company. Nevertheless, they do make a cute couple.

Walking on, I snapped a picture of the one remaining neighborhood decorations left over from Christmas–a bow tied around a lamp post.  I felt fortunate to capture it adorned with real snow. I made a note to send the homeowner a copy of the image. As I lowered the camera, I could hear a scraping sound coming from across the street where Walter was shoveling his short sidewalk. Walter is a rugged soul and probably the only one stout enough to attempt shoveling so early in day. I shouted an atta-boy to him for his work.  He replied that he really wasn’t too concerned about doing it well because April would be here before too long.

Old Glory Waves On

By now I had gathered about all there was to gather on the lower end of the neighborhood and walked to the top of our hill to see what was happening there. I caught a whiff of a wood fire burning somewhere close. We have a great hill and I was hopeful that I would see a scene that would have been prevalent on a snowy day in my youth while growing up in Rocky Hill…people on sleds. But, in a neighborhood composed primarily of septuagenarians, such was not the case.  I suppose that the grandchildren will arrive later with new sled-ables from Walmart.

I was warmed somewhat by the sight of Old Glory being unfurled in the breeze at our mail center. It soon became wrapped around the flagpole, so I took a moment to straighten it up. Calmness reigned at the top of the hill as it had at the bottom. With no more news to gather, I walked back down the hill to home and the Man Cave and began checking out the schedule for football on TV. I found myself a little envious of the downtown crowd at this point with pubs and theaters within walking distance…surely they’ll be hopping once you all are overcome by cabin fever.

Nothing Happening Here, Bud.

I won’t be there to join you.  A sign at our mail center says our road is closed until further notice.  So, I’ll close the news by wishing those of you Stuck Inside of Knoxville a blessed and productive snow day. For now, reporting from Inside the Suburbs, I’ll be Easin’ Along.

Joe Bruner is a lifelong Knoxvillian.  His weekly articles appear on his website Easin’ Along. (