hot white sidewalks

firewalking ceremony  in china

I used Google Earth to take a look at our old house in San Jose the other day.

It was a normal looking little house…I think my father told me that in 1963 he bought it for 27,000 dollars.

Last time I checked, it sold for close to a million.

That’s not the real point to this story…but it’s just another illustration of how things change.  Nothing stays the same….and that’s a good thing.  It would be a pretty boring world if they did.

Looking at our old house, I started thinking about playing in the backyard.  I was 10 when we moved away from California….so my memories of space and scale are those of a little child…but it’s surprising how strong those memories are even now.

We had a backyard that was fenced in with redwood fencing….tall fencing that the kids in the neighborhood used to use like a trespass highway…like some nascent neutral zone that we could walk up on and never touch other people’s property (unless it was the low hanging fruit on their fruit trees).

The backyard of the house on Frolic Way was like a manicured jungle…grass and rose bushes and lemon trees and mud for GI Joe crawl fests…and a small plastic swimming pool for when it got hot.

When it got hot, the white sidewalk became a griddle.  Fire walking without the coals, a test of impending manhood….a rite of passage to make it into the house to claim the popsicle that was waiting inside.

I remember that we had a window of opportunity…step out of the pool, run down the hot sidewalk, and  try to make it to a shady spot before the water on our feet disappeared.  It was a “don’t look back” kind of situation…if you looked back to see the evaporating footprints on the white fire, you were a goner for sure.  I don’t remember any of us turning into a pillar of salt…but I do remember jumping in place and wondering how the ground could be so hot.

I don’t know why I’d want to…but a couple of days ago, I started to think of how this was a good theological moment to “wax spiritual” over.

My life has been a steady stream of jumping out of the pool to test just how hot the sidewalk really was.  I knew it would burn me…but until the coolness dissipated…until my feet were bone dry…I always forgot how it felt to be out on my own.

I’d go running back to the pool…wheeeeee…jump in and get cooled off for a while…and then start thinking about those delicious apples…I mean popsicles…that I knew I could reach if I just slid that chair over to the freezer.  Pretty soon, I was out of the pool again….running up the alabaster oven…turning to look at my footsteps evaporating in the sun…calling out, “God!!!  Where’d you go?”

I think devotion should be more than just seeking a response to need.

I think there has to be something more behind it than calling out to be cooled off when things get too hot.

You know, though…I do like popsicles…and the pool was always there before.  I can make it back.

I’m sure of it.

image from

About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.

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