Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

In Stratford ...

Spoon River Middle School will take the rest of the week off: Too much to see and write about up here!  New installments begin again on Monday, 19 August.

Ontario Street
Stratford, Ont.
I don't like change--except, of course, the kind that goes in my coin purse (cheap joke--cheap guy).  We pop in here at Stratford once a year, the first week or so in August, where we OD on plays, often seeing 10-11 in six days (3 or 4 by the Bard).  The last few years we've stayed in the same place--Mercer Hall Inn--which is right downtown and allows us to park the car for the entire week and walk everywhere we need to go.  We (I?) always want to stay in the same room, and we have to book a year in advance (a small place, fills up fast), so when some other Evil Person has booked "our" room ahead of us, we change the week we're coming so that we can get it.  (Next year, for example--yes, I've already booked--we're coming a week later--all so we can get "our" room.)

(Notice I did not tell you the room number.  Some of you are just Evil enough that I know you'd ... you know.)

Mercer Hall used to have--right downstairs--a coffee shop/restaurant (the Tango Bistro) that we would frequent.  I would go down first thing in the morning, read my 100-pp daily quota for Kirkus Reviews, read the Times on Kindle, sipping coffee; Joyce would join me in a bit, and we would have breakfast (part of the price of the room).  I always had the same thing (can you imagine?): bowl of granola and fruit and yogurt.  I loved it.  Dreamed about it back in Hudson.

And then--last year--the Tango was gone, and in its place was an upscale restaurant--a very, very nice one--but no more breakfasts downstairs.  So we had to go find another place--which we did: Coffee Culture, a chain of large Starbucky shops in the area.  It's nice.  I get "my" leather (faux?) chair where I sit and do the usual until Joyce arrives.  But it's not the same.  No granola cum fruit & yogurt, for one thing.  And it's not right downstairs.

Change.  I don't like it.

Right down the street is a bakery we love.  We would get a baguette every day, take it back to the room to share for lunch--and late-night snacking after returning from our evening show.  This morning (Tuesday) we went to place our order, but the clerk told us: "We don't have baguettes anymore.  Didn't sell enough."  What they did have were fatty pastries that I would love to eat by the cubic yard but cannot eat even by the cubic inch--not any longer.

Change.  I really don't like it.

A few years ago we found a wonderful little restaurant--the York Street Kitchen, right on (would you believe it?) York Street.  It was a small place, out of the way, that took no reservations.  So we would speed-walk there after our 2:00 matinee was over--and usually got a small table right away for wonderful salads and sandwiches--local ingredients.  You know ... ?

Last year, we sped-walked to the York Street Kitchen and found ... an empty storefront.  They'd moved to a new location, less convenient, up on a busier street, Erie Street (new name: the York Street Kitchen on Erie--no kidding).  We went once; it wasn't the same experience.  Pouting, immature, we did not go there again last year.  But we'll give it a whirl again this week.  (We've matured.)

Change.  I really, really don't like it.

At my age, planning a year in advance is always a little--what?--hopeful?  Foolish?  Arrogant?  All of the above?  I mean, it's all those things for anyone, really, Life and Death being what they are.  And Chance sometimes being a cruelly capricious fellow.

Remember that sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay--the one about the folly of planning?

Read history, thus learn how small a space
You may inhabit, nor inhabit long
In crowding Cosmos — in that confined place
Work boldly; build your flimsy barriers strong;
Turn round and round, make warm your nest; among
The other hunting beasts, keep heart and face, —
Not to betray the doomed and splendid race
You are so proud of, to which you belong.
For trouble comes to all of us: the rat
Has courage, in adversity, to fight;
But what a shining animal is man,
Who knows, when pain subsides, that is not that,
For worse than that must follow — yet can write
Music; can laugh; play tennis; even plan.

Last year I was afraid that the ensuing year would find me on hormone therapy for my obstreperous prostate cancer--and that I wouldn't feel well enough to come.  That was a cause for some near-despair, believe me.  But I booked our room, anyway, ordered our tickets.  Isn't the joy of life getting to do the things you love with the people you love?

Well, this year I am indeed on hormone therapy, but, so far (cross fingers and other superstitious acts) I have felt well enough to come here, to be here, to do here what I need and want to do here.

Some year, I know, I will not be able to come.  We brought my mother with us a couple of times, not all that long ago; it's impossible for her now--she can barely get across her room nowadays.  I feel so bad that I don't even tell her where we are this week.  I know it would make her feel bad.

No, I don't like change.

In fact, much of the time I just plain hate it.

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