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Take a break and walk along Riverside
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I know the calendar tells us there are nine days before spring officially arrives, but you couldn’t tell that by the crowd on Riverside Drive this weekend.

I have the good fortune of living there and have a front row seat to a great spectacle.

Everybody and his brother walks or jogs on Riverside. Some folks live nearby and just walk over. Others park at strategic points and set out on foot.

There are several signs that point to the arrival, early or otherwise, of spring. First, a good number of the runners/walkers/joggers have shed their winter running wear for shorts.

I enjoy watching the selection of exercise gear that people select for themselves. There are men and women with rather well-toned bodies, and some of them want to flaunt it.

They usually are fully attired, complete with sunglasses that are made by some fancy-schmancy designer. Everything matches, too. The top goes with the shorts and shoes.

Some people spend a lot of money on shoes with those bouncy little springs in the heels.

I also notice that some of the ladies spend a great deal of time getting their makeup just perfect. If you’re going out to get all sweaty and hot, do you really need painted-on blush?

Other people on our well-traveled street do not have well-toned bodies, but go to the same store where the well-toned shop. I am convinced that neither the place they buy their running wear nor their homes are equipped with mirrors.

I appreciate their desire for physical fitness, but trying to fit your size 12 body in a size 6 outfit is not a pretty sight. Some in this crowd also were not able to find a top with enough material to cover their belly button and love handles. Then there is my crowd — the "throw something on and go walking" crowd. Grab a T-shirt, put on some shorts or jeans and throw on some old sneakers and have at it.

I also love watching the walking style of people.

When I was in kindergarten, in an effort to burn off some of that energy, our teacher would have us run in place with a seasonal twist.

Around Christmas, she would have us prance like a reindeer. I’ve never seen a reindeer actually prance, but we would hold our arms near our chests and our hands curved out and would raise our knees high as we ran in place.

There are people, both male and female, who actually run like that on Riverside Drive.

Let me suggest that you take a run through downtown Gainesville where there still are plate-glass storefronts. You can get a look at how silly you look.

There is a big contingent of young mothers. Some go with the traditional stroller. Others have invested in one of those three-wheeled gizmos with bicycle tires.

The other sure sign that spring has reached Riverside is the limbs on the curb side. I think about half the residents trimmed their trees and bushes this weekend.

Now that we have an extra hour of daylight in the evening, the numbers likely will swell. So come on out and join the crowd. I’ll be there propped on my shovel in the front yard.

If you can’t stop, wave.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 770-718-3423.