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Friday, September 29, 2006

A few hours in Montclair

If you think of suburbs as dull and lifeless you've never been to Montclair. I could have done this entire tour on foot; the starting point is barely a mile away, but, like a good suburbanite, I jumped into the car. First stop is the Avis Campbell Garden in the center of town. This is a hidden treasure maintained by the Montclair Garden Club. Yes, I'm a member, but I have only occasionally participated in the Tuesday-morning weed and clean up sessions. Lots of credit to those who do this.

The shops on Church Street are full of temptations. This optometrist always has an eye-catching window display.

It's hard to pass the consignment shop without a peek inside. Is this thing worth $80? It would look wonderful in my back yard. I think I'd paint it bright blue, though that color is fast-becoming a garden cliche.

These new condos are rising on the site of the old Hahne's department store; a dead spot in the center of Montclair for over twelve years. There will be new retail space at ground level. Some think these are architecturally out-of-scale. I don't agree. I won't be living there, but it can only mean that there will be MORE shops, MORE galleries, MORE restaurants.... more to enjoy.

I step into Gallery 51 and am enchanted by these incredible photographs by Sheila Bernard. Architectural photoraphs of urban buildings seen as reflections so they are distorted in astonishing ways. I am tempted to spend $250 on one of them. But I won't.

I've had spectacular dinners at Table 8, but never thought of having lunch there. To my astonishment it is nearly empty and I have a superb lunch for no more than I would have spent at a diner. I'll be back, Dmitri. Even though you spent all your time schmoozing with those three wine-drinking women about fast cars and collectible watches and pretty much ignored me; it's the fate of older women who dine alone, and I grudgingly accept it.

It's almost an afterthought, but I decide to duck into the library and see if the cafe is open (I've never found it to be so in the past.) Surprise! Not only is it open, but it is a delight. A light, bright space with a fascinating exhibit on local Black history sponsored by the Montclair Historical Society. I chat with a young woman who confirms my guess that wi-fi is available. She tells me that this place is ENDANGERED - not enough customers! People! What is it about cafes in the suburbs?

I thumb through a recent issue of Fortune. Libraries are great for catching up on magazines that one wouldn't otherwise read. I am enlightened by articles on philanthropy about Bill Clinton's foundation and a New York group called Robin Hood. Though I leave feeling a little guilty. Clinton says that if you have the ability to help and DON'T do anything you are morally negligent (I am paraphrasing here - he said it better; read the article).

And so to home. There's still time to mow the back yard. But there's still nobody who has to look at it but me. And there's always tomorrow.


Blogger SuperMom said...

Well, I hate to incite a political riot from the more liberal branch of the family, but I would take some comfort in the fact that it's Bill Clinton referring to someone as morally negligent, and not someone who is actually, well, moral enough to make such an assertion with a straight face. Not that I disagree with his premise at all; I just find his word choice sort of funny, all things considered.

Sounds (and looks!) like a beautiful day. I think my favorite picture is the fountain in the Avis Campbell Garden.

6:50 PM  

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