Good things / by Christina Rosalie

The kids who run the skateboard shop down by the waterfront, grow radishes, sunflowers, tomatoes and cucumbers in their graffiti covered store window boxes. Our neighbor knocked on our door yesterday in the early afternoon. She'd brought us spanikopita she'd made from scratch. We've barely met, and talked less than a half dozen times. THIS is what neighbors should be like.

Our other neighbor, across the street, works at the bike store we frequent. He gave us a 10% discount from the first time we shopped there, just for living across the street from him. Of course, we now swap power tools, gruesome bike stories, and sidewalk conversation.

Everyone smiles here, and they act like they really mean it. Like they're smiling because they love their lives, not because it's the polite thing to do.

Almost everyone rides a bike here. I've seen every type of person riding a bike into town, along the bike path, or on the highway. I've seen punked out, goth teenagers on bikes, with more metal in their ears than I have in my silverware drawer. I've seen pro BMXers and cyclists going the distance. I've seen retirees, riding cushy up-right bikes with padded seats. I've seen ladies in skirts. A man riding a lady's bike with a bell and a basket. A hard-core chica riding a tricked out mountain bike, and the scars to prove she's worth it.

People have nice dogs here. And other people--store keepers especially--are nice to them. There are bowls of water on the street, and sometimes baskets of dog biscuits too. A town with happy dogs is a happy town, in my opinion.

Kids and adults play in the big fountain at the top of the main pedestrian only street downtown. Invariably, there are little ones squealing and soaking wet---but there are also happy young couples, kissing with their toes in the water. Or, like this morning, an old biddy of a lady with white flyaway hair and a flowered dress, who washed her flip flops off in the fountain, and then lingered there for a moment, barefoot.

People in cars slow down for pedestrians here, instead of speeding up. Even when they have the green light. And people on the sidewalks step to the side for baby strollers, and say nice things like, "Take your time, any time. Enjoy your evening," if they catch you rushing to get out of the way.

Ben & Jerry's has a weekly outdoor movie night---where they project a film onto a screen in the middle of the pedestrian walk and people bring chairs and hang out together and laugh.

The farmer's market is heaven. Taking up almost a block, booths are filled with fresh veggies, soaps, meats, and handcrafts, and everyone offers free samples. We always buy fresh flowers and a weeks worth of greens.

One-liner good things:

There is a wood-fired bagel bakery within walking distance.

There are four bakeries within walking distance from our house.

The girl in the local coffee shop already knows our drinks.

People smile at our baby.

Moms breastfeed here, in public, without making a scene. And nobody makes a scene!

The sunsets. Over the lake. Sheer beauty.

There are more than 20 miles of bike path around the city.

You can walk to a wetland from downtown and see beavers.

Live music outdoors all summer. On the street.

Sidewalk sales!

Street festivals.