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Suburban Island

The Lure of the Small Town
Thursday, Jan. 27, 2005, 8:22 p.m.

QUESTION: What tour?

WHAT I LEARNED: Enjoy where you are.

I recently took my son on a day trip out into the countryside so that he could visit a friend away at school.

image by Suburban Island

I always enjoy driving around with my kids. We inevitably wind up having fascinating discussions about things in their lives and things in the world. It’s one of the great perks of being a parent. I always learn something. I think the transfer of knowledge may be mutual at times. One can only hope.

I think this is the closest we get as a family to a camping experience. Before we head out for a 1 ˝ drive, we stock up like we are going to be out in the wilderness for a week. Sodas – check. bottled water – check. Snack foods – check. CDs – check. Coffee – check. Fast food meal for the drive – check. We are nothing if not prepared. Door-to-door directions – check.

To some, this trip could have seemed a chore. And often such treks can indeed be precursors to parental boredom. For some reason, I had a feeling that my chauffeuring might pay off in a relaxing afternoon this time. It turned out I was right. The tour of the school was the main reason that I was given for the drive on this day – it was tour day at his friends school and we were going to get to see it. By the time we got there I guess the tours were officially over. We got a here’s-the-game-room, there’s-the-dorms tour and then both the kids looked at me with a why is she still here? look on their faces. They were obviously eager to cut me lose so they could hang out. The immediate need for parental gas and cash was over. Mom - Exit. Stage Right.

Part of being a good parent is knowing when to bow out. I was being shown the door and very politely too. My son’s friend noted that there were a number of gift and antique stores along the main drag. I was being dismissed.

I may have had a slightly different picture of how the day was going to unfold but this version could work too. A blissful quiet day all on my own. Mom’s Small Town Afternoon. I like it. I drove off to do some shopping. Along the way however, I became enamored of the little town and once I realized that I could drive around between side streets and a couple main roads without getting hopelessly lost I began to just take in the sights.

The houses:

image by Suburban Island

image by Suburban Island

image by Suburban Island

image by Suburban Island

The countryside:

image by Suburban Island

image by Suburban Island

The library:

image by Suburban Island

The mainstreet:

image by Suburban Island

Eventually, the boys and I ran into each other – I guess it really is a small town. We visited a last antique shop, had dinner at a local pizza place, and went to the movies – different ones of course - at the little theater of the kind that doesn’t exist around here.

image by Suburban Island

It was cold and dark when we got out of the theater. The drive home was quieter, longer, and stoked with bags of chips and sodas. I felt that we had enjoyed a day well spent - each of us in a different way.

Life is full of little surprises – like a small town on a winter day. Unwrap and enjoy.

DETAILS: Coffee: white chocolate mocha + Listening to: Montavani + Observing: patches of snow + Thinking: I get distracted easily + Weather: damn cold.

Today’s Suburban Strategy: Feel French.

Today’s Scenic Cam: Check out this busy library.

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