Below are sunflowers planted near my bike trail. The thing that is important to notice about them is that they are there at all. Somebody planted them and nobody knocked them down, despite the fact that dozens of people pass each minute. I think that says something about the neighborhood.
There are some tip-offs about the quality of a neighborhood. Flowers are an indicator on the plus side, as is general neatness and lack of litter. It also is a good sign if you don’t see lots of security fences or signs warning about loitering or trespassing. The character of the dominant dog population also makes a difference. Labradors, golden retrievers and terriers are good; pit bulls and Rottweilers not so much. I am suspicious of places where there are bars or sliding screens on shops, especially liquor stores. Being able to see more than one liquor store from any one spot is also a red flag. Lots of advertisements for lottery tickets is a bad sign and a big clue that you have crossed into a less desirable part of town are those places that cash checks 24 hours a day or give payday loans. If you see storefronts advertising bail bonds, get the heck away from that neighborhood. But sunflowers are good.
Above are sprinklers near the Potomac. I found a place right in the rain shadow of a couple trees so that the water didn’t get to me. I sat there a few minutes enjoying the peaceful sound of the spraying water until it started to rain. That evening we got more than an inch of rain. If you sprinkle your lawn or wash your car it evidently increases the chances of rain.
Above it the Ripley Center at Smithsonian, where they often hold the lectures I attend. It is like the tip of an iceberg. That little structure is the entrance to a vast underground complex of halls and museums. They didn’t want to put lots of buildings up on the Mall, so they put them under.