Friday, January 30, 2015
The Coffee Shop Chronicles - No. 26
I was torn that morning between watching the sunrise or getting to the coffee shop at an early hour. The sunrise had potential to be a beauty. In the winter there isn't a lot of sunshine, blue skies or sunrises. I am happy for any small peek the sun will give us. But Scout and I had been scoping out the downtown coffee shop for the past week, I needed to know the best time to come and actually find a place to sit and write.
Displaced from our usual morning walking route at home due to icy sidewalks, we had moved downtown. Our downtown has a snow melt system under the sidewalks, creating ice and snow free walking paths. Usually we arrive downtown about 8 a.m. There is enough daylight to see but the shoppers have not yet arrived since most of the stores don't open until 10 a.m.
Scout is a little over-excited at new places and around lots of people. This is something that we are working on. When we had both dogs it was hard for me to take them places like our downtown because they were both extremely excitable. Two golden retrievers who love people and want to be everyone's best friends proved challenging for me.
Now with only Scout it is easier for me to tackle places like downtown. Currently we are working on healing on the busier sections of the downtown blocks, also sitting and staying at each corner if the traffic light is red. He is doing amazingly well, so the old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks would be incorrect.
Anyway, as I was saying, Scout and I have been scoping out Holland's famous coffee shop for the past week. This place is crazy busy all the time which is why I don't usually go there to write. I hate trying to wade through a sea of people to find a table in some remote corner of the coffee shop. But I have noticed when we walk by between 8:00 and 8:30 each morning that the place is fairly quiet. So that was my plan, to arrive in that time period.
What I hadn't planned on was being awake before four, I finally decided to just get up. I figured I could get a lot done in four hours. My husband was out of town for work so it was just Scout and myself anyway. By half past seven I was ready to go, a lot accomplished already for the morning.
I arrived at the coffee shop at ten minutes to eight.
Unlike every other morning that I had observed the coffee shop, the place was busy. Maybe it was the before eight o'clock rush, everyone getting coffee on their way to work. A lot of people did get coffee and leave with their to-go cups in hand. But there was still a high concentration of men sitting at the tables that were usually empty when I walked by. Maybe it was a men's society meeting on the last Tuesday of the month.
I didn't need a table in the main part of the coffee shop though. I wanted to sit at the counter than runs along the front windows. I wanted to sit by the window and watch the walkers and runners outside, my new community of people. These are the people that Scout and I see every morning as we walk. They have become my new cast of characters. I wanted to have the opportunity to observe them in a more deliberate way.
There is the little China doll grandmother in her powder blue winter parka, the hood pulled tightly around her face. We are always walking opposite directions so we tend to pass each other a few times doing our loops. I am quite certain she does not like dogs or at least not big dogs, because she always moves to the far edge of the sidewalk when she sees us coming. The other morning I gave her a big smile and said "Good Morning". I am hoping that I can win her over with kindness, and eventually she won't move as far over when she sees us coming.
There is the lady in the winter version of a track suit, shiny, bright pink winter jacket and shiny black rain resistant pants. She wears a thick, wooly looking headband in her long brown hair to cover her ears (and half her head). She also has enormous black snowmobile gloves on, and whenever I see her, she is talking on her black flip phone. She is holding that tiny little phone in her enormous black gloves and holding the phone about eight inches from her head because of the big wooly headband. I wonder if whoever she is listening to is on speakerphone?
There is the lady in her 60's who runs past us every morning in her latest bright, colorful outfit purchased from the running outfitter located in our downtown. I am quite certain this lady lives by me because I would recognize the bright outfits and that unique running form anywhere. She too has decided to move to safer terrain.
On that morning as I sat at my window seat, I wanted a bundled up lady with a over zealous golden retriever to walk past. I wanted to know what I look like to the people that sit at this window on the other days of the week. Do they wonder about me? Do they try to figure out my story? Some might. I can't be the only one that is curious. But instead of a lady with a golden retriever I got two ladies walking with a greyhound/doberman looking dog. He was wearing the most adorable black and gray plaid dog coat. I think Scout would be irresistible with a bright red plaid coat of his own. I actually looked at them at Christmas, but as much nervous energy as he has he would probably get too hot.
As I sat there at my window looking out at our beautiful downtown filled with old buildings containing unique shops and the most amazing restaurants, I realized how fortunate we are to have this downtown. While most cities' downtowns are dead or dying, ours is alive, filled with walkers and runners before the shops open, shoppers during the day, and at night the town is alive with people of all ages coming to experience one of the many brew pubs or trendy local food restaurants. If you are ever in the Holland, Michigan area you must make a visit to our amazing downtown, have a stop in at the local coffee shop, have a seat at the window counter and tell me what you see.