In less than an hour I am planning to go to Reliable Street. This is such an enchanting place in Ames, Iowa, home to Iowa State University. My last blog visit was during the summer, but today we are hovering on the arrival of spring and the winds are a blowin’. It’s going to be quite a different experience! Last time I wrote about being here, I wanted to be alone and have some solitude, but I also wanted to have people near by. I work best that way. Sometimes I like to think of it as parallel solitude.
Today I am going to be social and catch up on what’s been happening, and you know, it’s gardening season, even if the temp is only 37 degrees this morning. I have seedlings started and have been gardening in my mind for about a month. I am anxious to learn what plans are brewing for the Reliable Street garden.
It’s finally HERE! Spring break! YES, but also the opening of Ames’ new locally owned book store. Making my first visit there was on the top of my spring break TO DO list.
These first days of break have been gray and cloudy and just begged for a book store visit. The store’s windows had been covered with paper since the end of 2020, and several times I drove downtown just to try to get a look inside. I must have gotten one peak early on in their remodel and didn’t really see that much that looked exciting. But boy, was I in for a surprise!
It kind of took my breath away actually. Oh yah……THIS is a book store! I had planned on a quick sample of their coffee and a browse of expensive, newly released books, because the main reason I was going there was the dog, but wow (that’s the only word I can come up with).
Once I got inside I said to myself, “Forget the coffee, and even the dog for the time being.” I just let myself get drawn in and started to drool. The wood! I love wood. The book cases, the bar, and other wooden touches throughout the store made me feel like I was inside You’ve Got Mail in NYC. I saw interesting books I wanted to browse, but needed to keep going for the overall first inspection. (By the way, they have The Queen’s Gambit!)
I don’t look at children’s books much these days, but this and other sections were bubbling with young readers, doing their own inspection. There was a nice background hum of small voices and exclamations. And then there was this.
I really wanted to slip in there and sit for a moment, just to pretend I was a kid again, but some girls were waiting behind me to get in, so I moved on.
There was some mention of a loft and the possibility of renting it after hours, and maybe even having a wedding there. At the back of the store there was a little area with restrooms, some interesting decor, and the stairs to the loft.
There was more beautiful wood upstairs, the fireplace AND some wonderful old books for browsing (not for sale). You have got to check them out if you are a lover of old classic books. The loft is open to all below. If you are a parent, you could comfortably get your coffee, take your book upstairs to read and still keep an eye on avid little readers downstairs.
All over the store there were bouquets of flowers. It was beautiful visual evidence of the love and support of the Ames community. I stopped to see that one bouquet was from Everts https://evertsflowers.com/ , our downtown flower shop where you can also sometimes visit with the cat there who roams among the eucalyptus, and probably back among the roses where the flower arrangements are being made.
I walked slowly back down the stairs from the loft, still breathing in the bookiness of it all and then oh, oh, oh…the DOG! Can you believe I almost forgot about Lovie? As I first walked in she(?) was lying quietly on the floor so the kids could pet her. I had given her one scratch behind the ears but had been drawn on into bookstore heaven. Finally now I had wandered to my heart’s content and snapped a lot of pictures and decided I really needed to sit for a little while to get the complete bookstore experience. I went straight to the book that had called my name when I first got inside, James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, because, you know, when you get a great bookstore like this in a small city, you should buy a book, right?! (It was a beautiful book reasonably priced.) I ordered a cup of drip coffee and chatted with co-owner Amanda Lepper as I checked out, then curled up in a chair and spent some time reading and petting the sweet dog next to me.
Think of everything you love about fall….the crisp air, the golden glow everything has, the smell of burning leaves, the skitterish sound of leaves blowing around your feet….and then add your favorite kitty……and a wonderful guy who is willing to hold the slightly skittish kitty as you drive to the park….that was my perfect fall Saturday!
I’m not going to be able to make it to my sister’s cottage for Memorial Day this year, but I am certainly thinking of everyone! This photo is from 2008. Looks like it was a tad chilly, but the beginning of summer, none the less.
Another thing to look forward to as we brace for some more winter weather after our hint of spring: the fragrance of the Easter Lilies as you walk into my local HyVee grocery store. The hyacinths that are already in the store smell heavenly!
Most people talk about the fresh green grass and how it smells or excites the eyes after a long gray winter. Personally, however, I believe the best thing about grass is feeling it underneath you, and maybe it’s not just the grass. Walking on the earth or lying down, it feels so alive. Try it sometime! Walk on some hard, cold, man-made pavement, and then step off to the side and feel the living, changing, responding soil and grass. And if you are really brave, when no one is looking….lie down and just roll around, then end up on your back and watch the clouds roll by!
Looking back over my 2010 photos, I ran into this and it gave me hope for spring, and the future. Do you think we’ll ever be driving cars that look like this? Around Earth Day last year, Iowa State University groups showcased their earth friendly initiatives on our beautiful campus. Check out Team PrISUm’s web site for more great photos!