July 05, 2016

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Steve Siler is a song writer, and founder and director of Music for the Soul, a non-profit music ministry. He is writing this column on behalf of Downtown Frankfort, Inc., a Kentucky Main Street program.

Beauty on Foot

A Saturday Morning Walk Downtown.

It’s a beautiful Saturday summer morning in Frankfort. I’m walking along Bridge Street toward the bridge from the south side of the river. I pause in an umbrella of shade being cast by a massive sycamore tree at the water’s edge. I can hear the river lapping the shoreline beneath me.

I’ve driven over this bridge dozens of times since moving to Frankfort but I’ve never noticed this huge tree. It reminds me of how we tend to hurry through the day, never seeing things that are right in front of us.

As I head across the bridge I look up at the houses atop the west rim of palisades overlooking the northward turn in the river. I’m momentarily envious of the view they must have.  But mine’s pretty good too at the moment. Cars are whizzing by and the bridge is singing to me as I turn and look upstream just in time to watch a large boat cross underneath the Capitol Avenue Bridge. The sun sparkles on the river and highlights the ripples the boat is leaving in its wake.

I wonder how many people in town have driven across this bridge countless times but never walked across it and stopped to appreciate the beauty of this spot.

After crossing the bridge I turn left on Wapping, passing the whimsically named Catfish Alley.  From nearby, church bells are ringing 11 a.m. Before me lies the heavily shaded portion of this lovely historic area, a corridor of stately homes. In places the roots of older trees alternately spill over the curb and challenge the sidewalks. The birdsongs cascade down around me as I walk the shady lane.  They sound happy and it makes me smile.

At Wilkinson I turn right. There I’m greeted by a tall Gingko Biloba tree and right next to it, a Beech tree of prodigious girth. I’ve never noticed either of these trees from my car. I proceed down the street a few feet before stopping to take a picture of some flowers peaking over the tops of shrubs. When I look down I notice that I’m walking on a brick- lined sidewalk that adds character to the neighborhood.

Further on I come to a white fence on my left encompassing a wide expanse of green lawn with more incredible trees. This is the Liberty Hall property on which stand two gnarly old Northern Catalpas planted in 1900 by the Brown family. At the corner of West Main and Wilkinson I turn left planning to head toward the river. But before I can get there a sign on the gate behind Liberty Hall invites me to enter and walk through the garden behind the old house.

Even though it’s a gorgeous day I’m the only one here. In the middle of the grounds there’s a center aisle bounded on both sides by wide flowerbeds abloom with radiant color. At one end sits a bench, deserted, except for a female cardinal who’s decided she’ll take the bright resting spot if no one else will.

Off in the corner is an opening in the fence inviting me to a grassy amphitheater facing the river. As I pass through the fence I see a long wall to my right with panels of bright, colorful nature murals, the work of local students. To my left the river beckons and I reach the pavilion just in time to watch a trio of motorboats race by. The old railroad trestle is visible through the trees to my right. 

Then I notice 45 minutes have passed. I need to head back and rendezvous with my wife near the bridge. As I retrace my steps I’m amazed at how much beauty I’ve seen in such a short time just by taking a walk in downtown Frankfort. Check out your city one sunny Saturday morning.  You won’t be disappointed.

1 Comment

Bob Marcus
Bob Marcus

July 05, 2016

This is a wonderful piece and really triggers nostalgia in me. I remember the joy I had walking across the Singing Bridge hundreds of times as a child and jogging on it many years later. More recently, I gleaned a bit of history regarding that bridge. My late Aunt Selma, who was pregnant with my cousin Gary, and Uncle Mose were occupants in the very last car allowed to cross the bridge before it was closed due to the ravaging and terrible flood of 1937. It is wonderful that people today can still get a share of joy crossing that wonderful asset to downtown Frankfort.

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