The Vocal Local
In case you’ve not yet been to the Square this week - shame on you - allow me to tell you of the intriguing new signs that await and not just those of spring. Banners advertising the Maple Festival and its annual baking contest alight the corner of Water and Park, reassurance to the masses that if only we can survive Lent our styrafoam cups will runneth over with amber goodness (Psalms 23:5). And as if that weren’t enough to get us all hot and bothered in these final weeks of winter, posters lining the vacant storefront windows next to Carriage Trade Boutique threaten an increase in fender benders as we rubberneck for a closer look. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a brewery-sandwich-taco-bakery! Now that’s something I can get behind. I’m elated at even the hint of new businesses coming to the Square, so much so that I contemplate pulling up right out front and pressing my face against the glass. If only I could figure out which traffic lights apply to those parking spots and how the hell to back out of one without getting creamed. While these signs may be mere suggestions I take them as promises; promises of the good that comes to those who wait with anticipation.
By now you know I don’t believe in coincidences. I once heard it said that a concidence is merely an act of God in the midst of time and I tend to agree. That’s why, when in yesterday’s mail I received the latest issue of Cottage Living magazine, I began to feel the sneaking suspicion that someone is trying to tell me something. Its glossy cover shone, brightly carpeted in a field of pink tulips and beckoned me in bold green letters, Live Your Dream! If your dream is to become a flower farmer, live above an antiques shop that you run, or raise baby goats stop reading, and immediately rush out for a copy. We all have dreams tucked away for someday and truthfully I feel I’m living mine but ever since 1998 when I first watched Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, I’ve had a not-so-secret longing to be a shopkeeper. Often I ask enlightened friends how it is that God speaks to them, whether through the mind or through the heart. But is it possible - through the post? I’ve got mail?
Were I to open a shop on the Square I would call it The Vocal Local because I write opinion pieces, because it would be a place for people to share in conversation and because the shop would sell locally sourced goods. Soon it would be shortened to VoLo and in that instant gain half a million new followers on Instagram. VoLo is a veritable thriple of pop culture chick flick references - 1/3 Doose’s Market, 1/3 Shop Around the Corner, 1/3 Chocolat - aka gourmet grocer, newsstand, chocolate shop. Just so I’m clear this is only a fantasy. But since you’re indulging me, here goes.
I ride up to VoLo Tuesday through Friday and the occassional Saturday on a mint green vintage bicycle affixed with a wide wicker basket in which I stow my writing notebook, a ripe peach, my current bookclub read and a pair of espadrilles, possibly galoshes if a light rain is expected which it rarely is. The bike has a bell. Bossanova music plays wherever I go. Every day I wear the same thing: a calf-length skirt, sometimes pleated, printed with fruits or flowers and a soft cotton blouse. My ensemble fresh off the laundry line, I smell like a bluebird’s fart.
At VoLo we sell artisan chocolates, wine, and if Sean has any say in it, whiskey; crusty breads for dipping in infused olive oils, cheese, seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farms along with grass-fed, pampered meats, and snow globes while wearing hand-stitched leather aprons. Even the aprons are local. We lend large, red buffalo check blankets for enjoying your purchases on the Square. Call ahead and we’ll prepare you a picnic lunch sure to impress a date, throw in a pack of gum in case things go well. Or you can dine in, alternating bites of smoked gouda with that crusty bread I mentioned standing amidst a shelf of paperback new releases, pouring over the latest R.L. Stine thriller (sure it’s for your nephew and betcha didn’t know he’s from Ohio) leaving bits of crumb in the crease of the spine to mark your page. We host whiskey tastings and wine pairings, cooking classes, pinochle groups, bookclubs, live bands and poetry slams. And we’re open on Sunday until 3pm.
Of course, I’d never get too busy to write. I’d still have my leisure time at Beans, crank out two blog posts a week and probably even pick up that book idea I’d shelved. Quality time with the kids would remain in tact as they’d walk over after school to do homework, visit with Mom and have snack at a high counter overlooking the Square. I’d make profit enough for us to spend summers traveling in search of inspiration. My crack staff who also have an appreciation of leather aprons would take care of everything.
VoLo is my romantic fantasy equivalent of three baby goats in a deep sink or a puppy in a boot, #farmhousedecor. It would be absolute perfection, too sweet for anything but social media. But seriously, if we’re ever going to get a TV show or movie made about life in Chardon - one where I’d be played by Amy Adams, Sean by Jason Sudeikis and where Spooky would play himself - it’s going to be a team effort. Who’s with me?
PS. I’m giving up the following for Lent: cake, cupcakes, pie, muffins, donuts, ice cream, candy and cookies. If you see me around town in possession of said items you have my permission to slap them from my hand. (Note: protien bars in any of the above flavors are deemed acceptable)