Newest Favorite U.S. Historic District

“Newest” meaning new to me, rather than “new historic district.”

Just returned from another visit with my good friend Terry, who’s lived for many years now in Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.  Not only did I enjoy driving around Takoma Park again – where, astonishingly, many of the houses are just as small as the one I live in here in Atlanta’s Candler Park – but this trip I got to spend several hours wandering around the neighborhood where Terry works: Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

Even in the stunning heat and humidity that plagued the weekend, Alexandria was a delight.

A few trips back, Terry had taken me to Annapolis, and I’d thought after that visit that perhaps Annapolis was the most charming U.S. historic area I’d ever seen.

This trip, Terry drove me through Baltimore’s Fells Point area, which reminded me a bit of Annapolis, and which I’d like to go back to explore in detail sometime. But the next time I visit Terry, I’ll be returning to see more of Alexandria.

Wish we had more well-preserved areas like this down here in the South!

In Praise of Farmers Markets

Over the past several years, more and more Saturday morning farmers markets have been popping up all over Atlanta. Finally, Americans have adopted an institution that’s been enjoyed by legions of Europeans since the Middle Ages!

Because I work some Saturdays, stopping in at one of these markets – there are at least three of them between my house and work – is a very congenial way to start the day. Besides the fresh produce, there are usually potted herbs, cut flowers, a craft booth or two, and home-made bread on offer – and often cheeses, jams, and yogurt as well. (If I weren’t trying to save money eating out, I’d be eating breakfast at the market: there’s usually an omelet-maker on hand, and always lots of baked goodies to choose from.)

Since the local markets cranked back up again in late April, I’ve been twice to the market in the parking lot of St. Phillip’s Cathedral in Buckhead, and yesterday I visited the market in Piedmont Park. The weekly markets continue on into the late fall, so I’m looking forward to stopping by one of these two markets several more times this year, and to maybe sampling the flavor of a few more.

The lady in the booth pictured above let me sample something called FROG (Fig-Raspberry-Orange-Ginger) Jam, and I came home with a jar. Not cheap at $6, but it’ll last me for months, and it’s really tasty! My next purchase from this lady may be her Plum Sauce (also $6). She’d poured part of a bottle over a slab of cream cheese, and invited customers to try it on crackers. Yum!

About the only desirable feature missing from the neighborhood where I live is one of these weekly farmers markets. Maybe one will come to Candler Park some day?

Festival Time

DecaturIn Atlanta, late spring and early summer are chock-full of neighborhood house tours, garden tours, arts festivals, music concerts, and free outdoor movies series.

For those of us in Atlanta whose own yards and gardens need a lot of attention during this mostly-mosquito-free period, the allure of so many festive community events to choose from – many of them free – presents an annual round of delightful dilemmas. To Go or To Forego, that be the question as each Saturday and Sunday in April, May, and June rolls around.

This year my work schedule prevented me from taking advantage of any of the house or garden tours on offer thus far, but I did manage this past Memorial Day weekend to spend a few hours at the annual Decatur Arts Festival.

Once again, I was flabbergasted by the beauty and inventiveness of the works of dozens of artists and artisans. As always, the work of the participating photographers, like this one and this one, was especially ravishing.  Once again, I was reminded of how pleasant it is to meander and mingle with a (sober) (diverse) crowd of attentive people in good moods. And, once again, I felt lucky to live so close to a pedestrian/bicycle/scooter-friendly urban center where the amount of space devoted to the various requirements of the almighty automobile seems to be steadily shrinking instead of expanding.

After wandering around the festival, often within earshot of the luscious music being made by the California-based Celtic harpist and bamboo flute duo Lisa Lynne and George Tortorelli, I had enough time before heading into work to pop into one of my favorite Decatur merchants (favored because its reasonable prices, especially for Decatur), Vivid Boutique.

It’s been many years since I stayed in town during Memorial Day weekend, but now I know what I’ll probably do with part of any future Memorial Day weekends I’m not elsewhere. And since Decatur hosts its annual (and free!) Book Festival every Labor Day weekend, I might be tempted to stay in town for that festival, too!