Saturday, February 28, 2015

Although Exploring Grand Rapids @PureMichigan with a Car is Inconvenient, Follow the Murals.

Although Exploring Grand Rapids @PureMichigan with a Car is Inconvenient, Follow the Murals.

Staying the weekend in Grand Rapids, I've had time to explore locations that have caught my imagination, tempting a visit. I passed the afternoon at Kendall College of Art and Design, looking at hundreds of paintings and drawings. I've always passed by Martha's Vineyard wineshop and delicatessen while driving Union Street over Heritage Hill from Fulton to Michigan Street and promised myself to stop. Drove by at night after closing hours, after theater and on my way to the lowbrow eats at the Grand Coney, which serves a Detroit style coney, a Greek style coney and a Flint style coney. Variety doesn't mean gourmet, however. I always crave coney islands when there are places that serve them. I enjoy them while I munch on them. I feel a queasy guilt after finishing a plate of one, two or three, usually three.

Stopping my car and parking in the sunlight of early evening, I learn that Nantucket Bakery drives this corner, with Nantucket baking pizzas in a western building and baking bread in a building facing south. I never knew the location of Nantucket Bakery in Grand Rapids until now, but I knew a team who had learned their trade at Nantucket started Village Baker in Spring Lake. The culinary corner at Union and Parkwood also includes a coffee shop offering pour over coffees, pleasantly named the Lyon Street Cafe. I purchased an apple galette and brought the baked good next door to enjoy with a cappuccino. 

Martha's Vineyard has an admirable maze of shelves stacked floor to extra-high ceiling and coolers of gourmet beers and beverages awaiting Saturday night dinner parties and entertaining. A clerk seemed a bit too forceful in his offer to orientate me to the reds and whites and I offered him the now universal phrase that asks for space. "I'm good". Many winos read wine bottle shelves the same way as reading book store shelves, and reading is a solitary activity. As I read labels, I like remembering my visits to vineyards in the valleys, Napa and Sonoma and Suisun. Today is February 28th, March Eve, and a drive through the Santa Barbara Wine Country or the Valleys would be thrilling, not too much traffic and few lines at tasting room counters. Plus, all those grape vines would be trembling with possibility, about to push out the season's first green. Bud break is a celebration observed up and down the California coastal regions. 

The mural by Sofia Ramirez Hernandez has shadows lessening its yellow paint optimism, and yet faint daylight causes the wall to beckon a welcome. It made me try harder to find parking outside the popular venues, and a trip around the block became necessary before my car scored a spot. An automobile can be such a liability when one goes exploring. Now the interior of the well-lit Lyon Street Cafe feels even more comforting, the old fashion bulbs with the thick bright wire filaments blazing. To stare at a bulb is to stare at the sun. Twilight knocks on all the plate glass windows as people write novels, posts and poems at the butcher block tabletops.


Will Juntunen

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