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Monday, July 07, 2008

Montclair wandering

The appointment at the Volvo dealer for the repair of the mysterious emission problems that led to the failed state inspection (NJ is tough on these things!) was for 8:15. I knew it would be a long day. But it's pretty easy to kill time in Montclair, so I left the cell number and off I went.


First stop: Raymond's.

I usually go for the steel cut oats with caramelized banana, but today it was the orange ginger pancakes with fruit. Coffee is excellent and keeps on coming - you get your own little refill pot right on the table, and they are happy to refill the refill pot. Can you see the rack of papers? Always there with today's NYT, WSJ and - the best of all - the NY Sun. I catch up on the news and do the crossword and the sudoku in the Sun.

Next stop: the bookstore. What a luxury for a town to have TWO old-fashioned, independent bookstores. This one -the musty-dusty one - has a combination of new and old, similar to the Strand in NY, and to Powell's in Portland, OR. It's much larger than it looks from the outside. Because I have gardens on the brain, I settle mostly in the garden section.

I read the both of the following (both serendipitous discoveries) cover-to-cover.

The Nivola book tells the story of Nobel Peace prize winner Wangari Maathi and her one-woman campaign to restore beauty and agricultural self-sufficiency to her devastated native land. Reminiscent of Miss Rumphius, with lovely illustrations by the author.
Then I stroll for a while: On a whim I go into the bike shop and ask if there's anything I could safely and comfortably ride - never having had such a thought before. Yes, it turns out! Well, perhaps another day there will be a test drive!
I never get tired of the beautiful Avis Campbell garden, behind the library.
I note that I really would like to get some of those pale pink poppies going in my own garden. The trick, apparently, is to scatter the seeds in February, in the snow. And I'm reminded that it would be very lovely to have a pond of my own.

Quite a few hours have now gone by, but the phone is silent. So - might as well hang out in the libary for a while. There is a new photography exhibit to see, and a well-stocked magazine section with big, comfy chairs. In contrast to my own library, these magazines don't circulate, so the latest copy is always availabe, in addition to all the earlier ones. I picked up the June 30 New Yorker and read a wonderful Alice Munro story called Deep-Hole, and a beautiful memoir, Altered State, by Andrea Lee, about growing up in a well-to-do black family in Pennsylvania. I wasn't familiar with this writer (now married to an Italian and living in Italy), but intend to seek her out. Also in that issue - an article by Paul Goldberger about the changing face of Beijing - specifically the most recent architectural mega-structures and their effect on the city. (For an ongoing view of present-day Beijing I try to keep up with James Fallows' wonderful blog.) I read a years' worth of Organic Gardening, flip through Real Simple, House Beautiful, Horticulture.
I check the time. 3:45! Surely the car must be ready! Might as well wander down there and check. Yes, it turns out it is "almost ready" - just the paperwork remains. They were about to call. Should I be resentful of having to "waste" a whole day on this? Well, probably. But the truth of it is that I had a very pleasant time. I should be forced to walk the streets of Montclair more often.

2 Comments:

Blogger Eve said...

Well, that a lovely day. I would love to have some of those pink poppies in my garden but since it hasn't snowed here since,,well, I don't recall ever seeing it snow here...I guess I will recondider them.
I love book stores and libraries. My favoirte was on the beach, you could sit in a large glass window and look out at the Gulf while you read. It was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. I still miss it. Come vist me if you get a chance, I have a gardening blog and a blog about getting older or living long,,,traveling on fumes I call it. Truth too. LOL

9:21 PM  
Blogger DomaMama said...

I love that Andrea Lee piece, too, and wrote about it on my blog. Found your blog when I did a google search for her! I mean to read the Alice Munro piece as well. We have similar tastes--maybe a Scorpio thing?

11:47 PM  

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