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» Monday, December 22, 2014"...and Go Down-town..."
"...Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares..."
When I was little I used to sing this song pretending it was about Providence, because the lights truly were much brighter there: the Outlet Company, Shepards, Grants, Woolworths, Newberrys, Kresges, the Paperback Bookstore, Read-All, Richley's Card Shop, Pier Linen, even stinky old Cherry & Webb and Gladdings with their everlasting aisles of boring clothes, and, at Christmas, strings of lights strung across the streets and colorful displays in the windows. Now I have one chance to go downtown before Christmas and I decided to take it today—yes, cookie-making abandoned once more—because it's supposed to rain pitchforks and little fishes for the next two days.
It was grey, damp, clammy, and chilly when I took Tucker out for his walk. The birds didn't even want to come to the feeders, so there was nothing to watch as I ate breakfast. I finally left home about 10:30, which was later than I wished, but I didn't have any problem: someone was pulling out of a parking space right on the Square. I only had two hours (parking's only free for two hours), so I set my phone alarm and started to walk.
I began at DuPre's, which at one time was a hardware, feed and grain, and general store until the early 1980s (we remember someone on the Square telling us that as a boy he still recalled the farmers parking their wagons on the square, until "old man DuPre told them to knock it off"). It still has the original wide wood-plank floors, and near one doorway they still have a collection of old waybills and ads. Part of the building is now an "Art Center" where artists sell their wares, but most of it is an antique store. I love to go there at Christmas because they have pulled out all the antique Christmas decorations to the front and put other decorations dotted here and there in the booths: reproduction belsnickles, glass ornaments in bowls, tarnished garlands, feather trees with bead garlands, angels, and simplest and almost prettiest, a little hurricane lamp with clear chimney and rose glass bottom surrounded by a little wreath at its base and around the chimney. I bought an old Scholastic mystery story about a girl who lives on the Cape Cod coast.
Once I finished there, I walked up to the Australian Bakery Cafe, frankly to buy something to use the bathroom. The place smelled of coffee and spices, and I spied fresh-baked gingerbread men. So I ordered two, and also bought something else as a special surprise for someone. Then I tramped out into the mist, on to The Local Exchange, which (surprise!) sells products from local craftspeople. In the rear I found a small selection of books, including one that I bought from a Georgia author. It's called Treason! Treason! and opens in a United States that never broken from the British empire; a professor and his daughter go back in time to correct the sequence of events.
I stopped briefly at Antiques on the Square, but as they are half an audiophile/old record store now, it's not as interesting, and they never decorate for Christmas. I did get a photo of Luke the standard poodle surrounded by customers selling off old records. He investigates every person who comes in the store with an air of quiet dignity.
Next I crossed the street and walked across the Square, every path which is lined with luminarias. In one corner parents and children waited in line at the little cabin where Santa Claus was holding court. I took photos of the Christmas tree, and the stage and gazebo all swagged with green roping and red ribbon.
Finally I strolled up to the Christmas shop and wandered through, admiring the ornaments, and then down the street and across Church Street to spend a few minutes in The Keeping Room, which smells of herbs and dip mixes and coffee and all the other packaged goodies they sell along with aprons, dishtowels, and other homey gadgets, and then lastly walked down Church Street past the ballet studio, the rocker factory, La Famiglia and Hemingway's, and Doodlebug's children's store, to dip into the little knicknack shop and jeweler and antique store for a few minutes before my timer ran out.
I headed home, the weather having grown a little colder, and thought of the weather forecast. So when I got home, once again the cookies were put off. I put up the little Christmasy stakes (Rudolph, the candy cane, the Welcome bell), and then pulled out the net lights James had bought for the columns and put them on the bushes in the front, and set them up on the timer. I tried to put together the Moravian star, but it's broken in the middle and won't go together properly. :-(
I was giving the lights a last tweak when the garage door went up and James arrived home. We went to Bed, Bath & Beyond to spend the four coupons we had: he needed a new cartridge for the Soda Stream, some Cola Free, and I bought some butane lighters—maybe we'll be able to use the fireplace eventually!—and a new holder for the toothbrushes. Navigating the parking lot of the shopping center was about as dangerous as we wanted to get today, so we returned home directly.
We had chicken apple sausages and potatoes for supper, and watched the last two episodes of The Librarians, including the Christmas episode with Bruce Campbell as Santa Claus! I love the way he kept flipping through his historical personas. After Doctor Who, I put The Gathering on. A nice quiet adult Christmas film to end the day, sentimental without being mawkish.