Sunday, July 29, 2007

In my neighborhood

This morning I went to the farmer's market. Normally, this would not be a big deal: Portland is awash in farmer's markets. Organic farmer's markets, farmer's co-op markets, year-round farmer's markets. You name it, if it's granola enough, there's a farmer's market for it.

But this one was different. It's brand new, and it's down the street from me.

When we moved in to this neighborhood, the wee little neighborhood strip was a four-block long strip of mostly empty storefronts. There was a dusty, dark, and usually closed Hippie Emporium, selling "herbs" (it's closed now: shocker!), but otherwise, all other operating shops were an auto upholstery shop, two auto-body shops, a billiards hall, a specialty lumber yard, and three slightly sketchy taverns.

As I walked to the farmer's market--it's wee, really, not a huge number of stalls--along the four-block walk, more and more people joined me on the sidewalks. A block ahead of me, three families--whole families!--were walking together, stroller and dogs included. Behind me, two hipster couples shuffled along, holding hands and sipping coffee.

Since we've moved in, our neighborhood has been going through some amazing change. A coffee shop has opened up, the kind with fresh-made pastries, that doesn't have that familiar green-and-white mermaid logo. The "herbarium" disappeared; now we have a wine shop and a crafty paper/art store. The old drug store finally got leased; half of it is this super awesome, reasonably priced, rotating menu of American food restaurant. The movie theater that had been closed since the 70's has been through a makeover and now plays recent-release movies for $3 a pop. Oh, and serves beer, wine, and tasty tasty pizza from the pizzaria next door.

Standing at the farmer's market, all I could think was: who knew all of these families with these wee little kids lived within walking distance? I bought some golden raspberries and a margarita melon (less alcoholic than it sounds), sipped my Ethiopian Fair Trade Shade Grown coffee while munching on a ham-and-gruyere croissant and realized I was standing next to the auto-body shop and across the street from the billiards hall.

I love my neighborhood. I can't wait to see what we get next.

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