(This blog post title is brought to you by the theme song from “A Different World” – with Lisa Bonet!)
Just over three months ago, we moved 3.4 miles from our old house. 3.4 miles! It might as well have been to a different planet, though. Our Chapel Street home was just about a mile from downtown Northampton. We got ample sunlight and were located a block away from the Pioneer Valley’s famous cross-town bike path. I often walked down the hill to downtown Noho, even at eight-nine months pregnant. After Scarlet was born, I often did the walk with her in a stroller or carrier and the walk back uphill was brutal, but I did it anyway. I liked being by the action. I liked knowing the secret parking places during Pride Weekend. I liked having neighbors so close, our toddlers could and did call out to each other from our respective windows. I liked that Scarlet’s second story bedroom window faced the second story bedroom window of the cute, nine-months older boy next door, and I imagined that we’d stay there forever and they’d eventually talk by walkie talkie or string tin can phone wires across the houses. Clearly, I had briefly forgotten that cell phones now exist and who the heck knows what will exist when our children come of dating age. (I shudder to think)
I liked the dog park and baseball field across the street and how from our second story bathroom window, we could hear the fresh crack of the bat at the baseball games come spring. I liked everything about the Chapel Street house and its location.
Breakfast/brunch is not only the most important meal, it’s my favorite meal. Northampton does not disappoint. From trendy to vegan to all-local and organic to classic diner eggs and hash…and here I am sounding like I work for the Northampton Board of Tourism again…Noho has always been a place we are proud to take our house guests for breakfast/brunch. I could never tire of the several places to eat breakfast from Northampton to Amherst.
There are parts of it that get tiresome, though. It’s a city, above all, even if it’s no San Francisco or New York. (That’s what I like about it) While light years easier to get parking in Northampton than a major city (and the laughable $10 parking tickets!) it’s still just the tiniest bit of a hassle. And if you don’t get out and about by 9:00 am, you’re kinda screwed and have to wait to get a table at most places. Minor stuff, really, after living in SF. Still I was happy for an alternative.
Where we live now is still Northampton. However those 3.4 miles away are halfway between Northampton and Westhampton. 3.4 miles from bustling downtown. Where we live now has so many thick forests that we still have inches of snow on our lawns from the tall trees blocking the sun. We can barely see our closest neighbor even in the bare dead of winter. No second story romances. No crack of a baseball bat. We’ve certainly got our own charms, though. Last week through a tip from a friend, Cassidy, Scarlet and my parents had breakfast at the Straw Bale, a restaurant/sugar shack only about two miles from our house through the trees. I decided to sleep in and missed the adventure.
Yesterday we decided to try again. Breakfast specials, roaring fire, magazines, the owners come out to talk shop and sugaring and grandkids with you, and the regulars know a new face when they see one and make sure to welcome you. Like the 88-year-old man who comes in every Saturday with his wife. His mother had a pastime that he adopted – making bookmarks and bracelets out of buttons. He didn’t just give a bookmark to Scarlet, he gave one to me and Cassidy too. He gave us bracelets as well. We all talked about life and love and kids and the war and New Jersey and California and maple syrup.
I was charmed and insisted to Cassidy that we go every Saturday to have the $3.00 breakfast special and be near this man and his warmth. Just to see his face as he smiles at Scarlet.
I walk out my front door and get in the car. Drive left and within minutes, I’m in a pretty sexy, trendy city. Drive right and within minutes, I’m in horse farm, sugar shack and old timer country.
I’m not sure it could get better than that, to be honest. It’s already more than I ever imagined. Living in the outskirts of a city with choices to suit every taste. City, country, all of it, and more.
Through the woods, in either direction.