This morning, I got on my bike—Blue Beauty—and pedaled to downtown Winthrop, about a mile away. I had arranged to meet my friend Judy Johnson at The Flaky Tart, a new, funky café that sells muffins, cookies, scones, whoopie pies, and light lunches. The Flaky Tart only has a few tables, but it’s such a warm place—both the atmosphere and the colors—that all kinds of people are meeting there for lunch or for tea and dessert.
Although Winthrop has more than its fair share of places to eat, The Flaky Tart, right in the middle of town, is just what this town needs as a comfortable meeting place for family and friends to gather. In fact, it seems to me that every town needs a café like The Flaky Tart to bring cohesiveness to its community, to make the town more than a mere collection of houses connected by roads. Or even worse, a place you only drive through to get someplace else.
I left home a little early so that I could check out the shops—we only have a few—and perhaps find some birthday and Christmas presents. My first stop was Apple Valley Bookstore, where I did indeed find a gift, which I won’t reveal as family members read this blog. I also found a book that might be a gift or might very well go on my own bookshelves. It’s called Patience & Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture by Nicholas A. Basbanes. In his prologue, Basbanes writes about Dr. Otto Bettmann, “the creator of a vast archive of photographic material that he had furnished” to publishers of all kinds. Bettmann was also an author and a musician.
Here is what Bettmann had to say about books: “The Chinese have a saying that one picture is worth a thousand words, but I disagree. I believe that one word can be worth a thousand pictures….only reading allows you to penetrate the world. That is the power of the book.”
Yes, it is, and a reminder that the life of the mind is just as important as the life of the physical world. This is not to say that one is superior to the other; merely that both are necessary for human creativity and understanding.
Now, with a quotation like that, how could I resist Patience & Fortitude, which, by the way, are the unofficial names of the lions outside the New York Public Library? Clearly, I couldn’t.
After the bookstore, I went to the Flaky Tart, where Judy was waiting for me, and I had tea and the sweetest little scone—gone in two bites—that I have ever had. The scone was a perfect late-morning snack, small enough so that it wouldn’t interfere either with lunch or with trying to lose weight.
I hadn’t even settled down with my tea when another friend—Debbie Maddi—came in. She had gone for a walk and wanted to see what the Flaky Tart was like. We all chatted a bit, and Debbie left.
Some more people I knew came in, and I must admit I just love being in a place where people drop in for a while before heading on their way.
Judy couldn’t stay long. She and her husband, Paul, are moving into a brand new home at the end of this week, and Judy had many things to do.
Off I went, to a shop called Potato, which sells Maine-made crafts, and I found several gift possibilities. Then, it was time for my daily bike ride, me and Blue Beauty zipping down Memorial Drive and by Marancook Lake, today a gray reflection of the sky. But along the edges of the lake, there were blazes of yellow and orange to brighten the overcast day.