This is the kind of afternoon that reminds me how much I love living in my town, Rochester. My husband and I have rented an apartment here for the last three years, and it's been a perfect match for our needs and lifestyle. We're considering moving to the Berkely area in the next few months for work reasons, and I'm definitely going to miss all the benefits of living here.
Today I jumped on my bike with a backpack full of books and the intention of selling them to The Downtown Bookstore, as well as running a few errands. From our apartment, downtown Rochester is a five-minute bike ride through through the Municipal Park on the Paint Creek Trail, which smelled fresh and earthy today. As soon us the weather turns warm, my husband and I try to do as much travel as is possible and practical by bike, and living in Rochester has made this easy and pleasant.
While the store was too full to take my books, a few of them found a home across the street on the book shelf at the Bean and Leaf. A ran into a few friends, including one of the employees and a woman whom I know only from our conversations at the coffee shop. She offered to buy me a cup of joe - talk about old-school hospitality - and we chatted about her daughter's plans to backpack the Pacific Rim trail and the new car I'm thinking about buying, which she happens to drive.
This is why I love the Bean and Leaf. Who has a hometown coffee shop anymore? How often do you walk into a business and know half of the employees and a quarter of the customers? How often do we pause to have a conversation with the person in line, longer than "I wonder why they're taking so long?" This is the stuff of movies, of old men at diner counters asking Sue for a warmer, hun (which, by the way, can be seen at Knapp's donuts, right across the street. Delicious treats, small-town feel). Maybe it's all in my mind, and maybe it's because I was a barista there for a brief stint, but I walk into the Bean and Leaf and feel as though I belong there.
I left the coffee shop and rode to Kroger to pick up yeast - I'm attempting to save money by baking bread in my bread machine, which has been mostly unused for the past three years - again, a five minute ride by bike. I smiled at the girl at the check-out, who knows me from last-minute ingredient runs and late-night ice cream trips. Again, I was struck with that feeling of belonging, as well as ownership. This is my Kroger. She is my check-out girl. Maybe that's a self-centered thought, but honestly, I think that's how a good town should feel. Like it can be owned by it's residents.
I rode back home, with the aid of a great pedestrian cross-walk system. The apartment complex we live in is old, but well-maintained, and the roads are lined with tall willows, oaks, pines, and all kinds of flowering ornamental trees. I love watching the seasons change here.
I could go on - we're totally spoiled with restaurants, quaint shops, a huge library, active DDA, and close proximity to parks - but I'll just leave you with this little snapshot of life in our friendly little town.