We slipped into a teahouse we'd been eyeing all week. Once inside, we sipped, china cups endlessly filled with strong, black tea, and marveled at the setup. Knick-knacks, the smell of scones, painted signs, mismatched seats and eclectic patrons. A young bearded man set his tray and hackeysack on the wooden counter, expertly balancing the plates of chocolate crumbs and cups of spiced chai.
"Yo, those brownies were INTENSE." He informed the purveyor, a middle-aged woman--the spitting image of Old Mother Hubbard--complete with kind face, patterned smock-dress, and spectacles.
"Oh, thanks. That's nice to hear." She sang as light streamed, reflecting across her round glasses. She pressed her plump hands onto her apron. "I baked them this morning."
Outside, the air kept fresh and we continued our unexpected day in a fairytale, in the city's version of the shire, moving from tea house to gallery, snapping pictures along the way.
We stopped in a bookshop and pretended we were considering lattes to sit in the cafe, browsing through pages of the greats and not-so-greats, where I came across the dogma upheld by a seventeenth-century samurai warrior.
No fear, no surprise, no hesitation, no doubt.
"Good mantra," I murmured aloud.
Further west we passed brownstones and pillars, painted brick and budding bluebells. After the rain, the city's carpeted parks glowed luminescent. The dog runs were filled with bouncing balls of fur, one white mop jumped on a shaggy puppy in glee.
Children splashed in puddles the moment their parents' backs were turned.
We strolled past storefronts, watering holes, and bistros, early glasses of wine and appetizers eaten at wooden windows stripped of glass, the after-rain breeze billowing inside and across dining tables.
Churches of stone and a beautiful patio set back from the quiet streets and blooming trees. A man played a bagpipe as his leg leaned against the wrought iron gate, a crowd still wearing their Sunday best, mesmerized by the blaring sound.
Gray clouds were mere wisps as we walked the day away. I found so much more of the city that I forgot was there, and was reminded about how little I truly know, how our location dictates so much of our experience and how hard it is to motivate oneself to venture beyond.
Latest goal for the summer is to go to one new place or neighborhood haunt a week. Any suggestions on your favorites?