I'm sitting in a cafe again and finding it much too warm. Of course I did put on more than one layer, which was perfectly comfortable at home but I forget how hot it gets in the cafes. I am ready to go into the washroom and remove my tights and the cotton camisole under my sweater or at least I am fantasizing about it. I probably won't do it. I've just indulged in a large latte too which adds to the warmth. I guess I should have ordered an iced coffee but it doesn't quite go with that urge to be cosy one gets in winter.
This cafe has a television but it is on the House and Home channel not the sports channel. I am one of six or seven people in here, and although they do a steady business they are not full like my neighbourhood cafe, which is currently the only cafe in Comox. When I saw how busy it was and even just counting all of the cars parked around it I decided to drive into Courtenay, the slightly larger community that is about ten minutes down the road. Cafes abound here but I have a few favourites. Courtenay has a charming little shopping area downtown but it is struggling. The big box stores and strip malls get most of the shoppers and a downtown with independent businesses struggling with high rent is making this lovely little area increasingly unfeasible. I feel guilty sometimes that I come here for the ambiance and don't spend a lot of money, though I would like to. The best shoe store in the area is here and I do buy something there once in awhile. There are clothing and home decor shops and even a shop dedicated entirely to socks. But some of the spaces are empty now as businesses fail or relocate to a less expensive location in a less charming area.
I live in a community where shopping basically means driving. Groceries, clothing, hardware, household goods, shoes, supplies for your hobby, whatever it is you need are all located widely apart on busy roads as the community grows and sprawls. When I was a little girl both Comox, where I live, and Courtenay, our neighbour, were significantly smaller, had one distinct downtown area each and although there was no competition, merely one grocery store, one hardware store and one drugstore in Comox and the same plus two very small departments stores in downtown Courtenay, I find myself nostalgic for those days. Lack of competition means higher prices but the competition from a community's growth comes with a different price. Comox has not managed to create a downtown core as charming as the one in Courtenay, although I still prefer to live in Comox for its smaller size and prettier location on the water.
The downside to coming into Courtenay to a cafe is the burning desire afterwards to just pop into a shop. And then another and then another and of course there will be temptations. The best way around that is to take along my camera and go in the other direction, away from the shops and down to the park along the river.
It's a relatively new park, about ten years old by now and was once the site of a lumber yard and a collection of little cabins set up as a motor court. There are many newly planted trees that have not reached a mature height yet and berms were created in the centre of the land in order to make a lengthier walking path that doesn't just go around the perimeter. The park is often used as a site for markets and concerts so much of the grassy areas are kept free of plantings or playground equipment. I found someone asleep on the gazebo, completely cocooned against the cold.
And I spotted a nest high in the trees which I believe is a blue heron's nest.
At the end of the trails I came to the place where the trail goes under the bridge and over to the park that is across the street. The walk along the river continues and the park is a large athletic park. Walking under the bridge terrifies me, and it would even if there weren't cars on it. There is something about being under a large structure that makes me uncomfortable so I dared myself to go under it. I took a deep breath and scurried,
And here is my evidence that I made it to the other side.
Then I remembered that I had to go back.