Today’s Photo Friday theme is Success. One thing I’ve sorely missed living in Small Town, New Hampshire after having grown up in Big City, Ohio is the relative lack of late-night services. I’m not talking about nightlife in the bar-hopping or night-clubbing sense of the word (although Keene is, I’m told, sorely lacking in the latter). I’m talking about all-night diners, coffee shops, or stores: places you can go to have a cup of coffee or do your grocery shopping at 3 am.
No, I was never in the regular habit of grocery shopping at 3 am…but occasionally, if I was hit by insomnia or the late-night munchies, it was nice to have a place to go, somewhere out of the house where you might run into other nightowls: a version of Ernest Hemingway’s “Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” Call me crazy, but sometimes I simply like to stroll grocery store aisles or sit in a diner, alone, with a cup of tea…and sometimes the insistent urge to do such things strikes ’round midnight, when a restless spirit won’t be denied.
Keene has yet to score an all-night diner (or even a prosaic chain like Denny’s or Waffle House). But as of this week, we now have a 24-hour supermarket that boasts all those big-city amenities that make a Zen Mama smile: an impressive selection of organic produce, a sushi bar, a healthy selection of natural and ethnic foods, and a bulk foods aisle complete with organic brown rice, pine nuts, and tamari-roasted almonds (three things that, when I lived in the even smaller town of Hillsboro, NH, I used to drive 45 minutes to buy).
Of course, having big-city amenities close at hand (and available at all hours) comes at a price. Keene’s new grocery store is the latest big-name business to premiere in a controversial shopping plaza on the outskirts of town. The jury is still out on how the Monadnock Marketplace will impact Keene in the long-run. Our medium-sized town already seems overrun with traffic, and on most days the new Marketplace stores and restaurants attract lines of cars driving in from outlying areas as small town folks flock to the Big City businesses built in someone else’s backyard.
The Monadnock Marketplace used to be open land: frozen fields and wetland. Although I enjoy having a big-name bookstore closeby, I know I should shop at the independent bookstore that was here first…but some Big City habits are hard to break. Yes, I miss the frozen fields and wetland that were replaced by the Monadnock Marketplace, but I’m nearly beside myself with eagerness to stroll the aisles of the new Target that’s set to open in March. The funny thing about both success and failure is that they are a bit paradoxical, leading even a Zen Mama to successfully contradict herself at every turn.