our town.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

a chilly late november morning,
Christmas nipping at our heels, or is it nose,
with to-do lists galore, Christmas cards to drop at the post office,
laundry to fold,  beds to make,
i scrapped it all.  just for a day.
this stay at home mom who's never bored,
(and the only reason i was able to do this on a random tuesday morning, because i'm at home,)
i took off on a different errand.
inspired to REALLY breathe in this little town we call home and some of its hidden treasures.
to explore a few of its sweetest nooks and crannies.
there's so much to say about this quiet river town.
and this is just a start.  one perspective.
only having lived here a few five years, i'm technically a 'newbie' still.
but have embraced this sweet space like so many of my fellow neighbors,
who were born and raised here,
who've ONLY known this sweet stretch of land alongside the st. croix,
and like them, have made it my own.
i've been inspired to post about this space we currently 'occupy.'
the town in which we reside, 
from one of my favorite authors, who recently wrote a blog post about HER town.
it motivated me to reflect on my own.
how amazing it really is.
before the snow blanketed this darling little place, i set out to see what others see. . .
the people, not just from across the state, but the country,
who come to visit, to peruse the main street of antique stores,
belly up to the bar with the locals and listen to live music,
nestle in at one of the many local B&B's.
that flock to the lovely little village that LITERALLY was inspiration for the Department 56 designers and their Christmas collection of miniature light-up houses.
it truly is a town that takes you back. . .
not because of the old brick buildings and store windows that line its cozy main street,
but because of it's deep and rich history as a lumber town and all that went in to keeping it alive, making it the energetic and timeless city it is today.
it offers a place of peace and solitude, safety and comfort
found only in small towns like this.
there are days, especially in the middle of winter,
under piles of snow and stir-crazy children,
where i daydream.  for warmer weather, sandy beaches, waves lapping against the shore,
palm trees swaying in the sun.
days where the walls seem too close or this town seems too. . .old.
where i want to pack us up and move away and start somewhere new.
or days when the big city beckons, the booming metropolis not too far from here.
but i don't know.  there's something here.  something that keeps bringing me back to the present.
to our main street, the side streets, wanting to explore more and see ALL this town has to give, one block at a time.
and you don't know what that is unless you lived and breathed in it for a bit.  TRULY soaked up the essence of this town.
a town that would comfortably fit inside a snow globe
or sit neatly atop a shelf amongst it's Department 56 Christmas village friends.
with this author's words propelling me forward,
i hit up the streets of our beautiful downtown, 3-year-old and camera in tow,
to examine a little more,
the places i drive by countless times a day, shuffling kids to and from school,
running errands, making stops along my way,
but REALLY taking it in, breathing it in, through pictures.
the old historic courthouse that sits high atop a hill.
solid and strong in it's structure, but charming and romantic in its place.
the old stillwater lift bridge.
bringing people back and forth, a cause for great debate right now,
but a landmark that has been a staple to this town for years,
and hard to imagine stillwater without it.
main street taverns with neon lights and pints of beer,
offering booth or bar stool to drop your bags and put your feet up.

a family-owned candy shop,
stocked floor to nearly ceiling, with all the sweet treats you could ever hope for.
some of the BEST home made fudge i've ever had.
and where you can watch it being made fresh every day.
a pound of fudge and a happy 3-year-old in hand,
we carried on our merry way.
taking in the sights and sounds of my town,
where the scenery driving in,
is really just a fraction of the charm of this place.
a city that can be seen by trolley, bike, gondola, riverboat,
or simply by the slow step of your own two feet.
from store front to store front,
supplying everything you could possibly want.
spices and spoons, yarn and yo-yo's,
olive oil or oranges,
jewelery or old jelly jars,
pancakes to parka's,
tatoos to tiny trinkets,
a town with countless staircases, 
carrying you up with tired legs to sweeping views.
a park practically built in to a cliff,
even a coin-operated horse!
how many towns still have that, and right on their main street?!
 a street corner where a malt shop offers refuge on a snowy, december night.
 beckoning you in to cherry-topped malts and cheeseburgers hot off the grill.
with warm hearts and full tummies,
you're only footsteps away from Christmas landscapes
lamp-lit and snow covered streets.
there's something about this town.
so often i walk the streets, among tourists and out-of-towner's.
with a small sense of pride and appreciation,
that THIS is where we live.
the trolley idles through our neighborhood, full of visitors,
getting the full historic tour, stopping at each old mansion,
a story behind each.
and i walk past, pushing my littlest in the stroller up OUR street,
a smile on my face.
because, i, like my neighbors, are the lucky ones.
we LIVE here.
how many cold, blustery snow-laiden nights, this tired mom has scooted in to a table at my favorite restaurant, in desperate need of a night off, with a glass of wine and a good friend, beyond thankful for being able to experience this magical little place under the lampposts and lighted snowflakes of the street outside.
the bookstores.
the co-op.
the yoga studio.
the music center.
the spa.
and all the other little businesses tucked in between this downtown.
that fuel it and make it the unique place it is.
our own little bedford falls right here in minnesota.
it IS a special little place, nestled in to the cliffs of the st. croix river valley.
a cozy diner greeting you as you arrive, at the foot of the hills, 
promising more goodness just up ahead.
hugging you as you leave, sending sweet memories with you.
those days, when travel and life DOES lure us away, urging us to broaden our horizons. . .
it is nice to know this is where we get to come home.
that this sweet place, has everything we'll ever need.

"One Christmas evening, a group of friends set off to enjoy a dinner of celebration at a small country inn nestled in a quiet river town. As they rounded a bend in the road, they saw the small, old-fashioned village decorated for the holidays. The lights, like fairies, glowed and sparkled amid the freshly fallen snow. All evening, the conversation was full of Christmas memories and the visions the tiny town had evoked. Amidst the jovial banter and magical memories, the idea for a lighted Christmas village was born. That spark of an idea became a reality when, in 1976, Department 56 introduced a series of six hand-painted, ceramic buildings. The rest is history."  -Department 56  

{if you' d like to purchase any of these photographs to use as prints in your home, please don't hesitate to contact me for pricing.  www.lizwesterhaus.com or ewesterhaus@gmail.com}


Ted Kozlowski said...

Nice work!

Ryan Mathre said...

Beautiful piece!

Unknown said...

Love Stillwater, Love You and your perspective on what makes this town so great!

Katie Oliveira said...

Lovely. Stillwater has always been one of my favorite places. Happy that I randomly came upon this.

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