I live up a hill overlooking the San Francisco Bay. My neighborhood is informally called, “The Hills” because there are so many. (You really feel it when you’re a runner.)
At the bottom of the hill is a village. Not a city or a town. A village. We call it, “The Village.”
It’s a place where the shopkeepers own their own shops. Other than Starbucks (of course there’s one!), Peet’s Coffee and Noah’s Bagels, they’re all creative, independent stores where the owner is behind the counter, remembers your name, continues whatever standing joke you have with them, knows what you like and effortlessly makes 5 minutes rich with the kind of conversation that only happens between old friends. Sunday mornings the main street is closed and filled with the farmers’ market and farmers who are old friends too.
It’s personal. It’s also upbeat.
Montclair (the name of this little retreat in the hills away from the real world) was started in the 1920’s by early bohemians. It was where San Franciscans built summer homes (more like cottages). The only way to get here from San Francisco was by ferry (no bridges at the time) and it was considered quite a getaway. The ferry to San Francisco is still my favorite way to get there. Especially coming back when the sun is setting over the water and the Golden Gate.
The free spirits who founded this place were originally going to call it “Ecstasy” but the horrified conservative vote won and they named it a socially acceptable Montclair.
These people had imagination. This is our fire house.
And this is our library.
Trees are tall (some of mine are 75 feet). Only a couple streets have sidewalks.
It attracts a certain type of person. Independent spirits. People who think for themselves. Modern, and and at the same time, old-fashioned. Berkeley is right next door and that lends a certain air of rebel.
What you see above is the headline in our local paper for this week.
I’m part of an online news group for my street. A neighbor posted that he wanted to organize volunteers who would help anyone on the street who needs help at this time. He asked for two people to be the points of contact.
He immediately was flooded with an abundance of volunteers. A couple of days ago he and his 2 daughters came by to drop off this flyer.
I am laughing because they now have a long list of volunteers – way more volunteers than people who need help. And one of the volunteers is over 70 and another is over 80 – they volunteered to help with anything online.
Those are jasmine in the photo from my neighbor’s yard. He graciously lets me bring some home because he knows how much I love the smell in my house and mine are just starting.
It’s beautiful when something brings out the best in people and makes it so unmistakably visible. Their goodness is shining bright enough to fill a neighborhood.
I feel surrounded by incredible beings who really care, who are really there, who respond to life by giving. Such happiness.
May you too be encircled by people who take your breath away.