It’s a beautiful day in Columbus today, and a lot of German Village residents were out doing yard work as we took our afternoon walk. I got a chuckle out of this generous sign seeking a hand from passers by.
Today another German Village business opened its doors to walk-in business after the prolonged coronavirus shutdown. This time, it’s the Hausfrau Haven, a great wine (and beer) shop that has been a German Village mainstay for decades. The HH had been open for carryout business — which we gladly took advantage of — but now you can walk in to make your wine selections. As we spring back from the shutdown period, increased access to adult beverages can only be a good thing.
My guess is that the Hausfrau Haven sign is (no pun intended) a sign of things to come in Columbus and Ohio as other businesses open up. That is, masks will be required, and the requirement will be enforced by the business itself, out of concern for its employees and its other patrons. I think most people will happily comply with that.
Next up for Ohio and German Village — a restaurant or bar open for foot traffic and in-restaurant dining. When G. Michael’s and Lindey’s and Ambrose and Eve and the High-Beck open up to dining and drinking patrons, that will seem like a very big deal.
Some well-wishers left flowers for the statues of the two mothers who inhabit the “Garden of Peace” at St. Mary’s Church in our neighborhood. It’s a nice way to remember Mothers’ Day.
Those of us who have been fortunate to be shaped by great mothers and grandmothers, and to be married to great mothers, can’t really express just how important those women have been in our lives. All we can do is says thanks, enjoy the happy memories, and wish all mothers a happy Mothers’ Day.
Some Ohio businesses reopened today. The sign in the photograph above was on the finely carved door of Winan’s, a chocolate and coffee emporium here in German Village that is reputed to sell some of the finest candy, and coffee, you can find anywhere in Columbus.
Winan’s reopened, subject to the limitations stated on the sign, just in time for Mothers’ Day. I took the picture above shortly before the store opened, with new hours, and when I passed by the store later in the day it was at its maximum capacity of four customers, and another patron was waiting patiently outside for the chance to go in. Interestingly, although the Winan’s shop was open, the Starbucks near our house was still closed. I imagine businesses are making individualized decisions about the reopening process.
I’m inclined to patronize as many German Village businesses as possible now that they are reopening to help get the economy back in gear, and I was encouraged to see that Winan’s was getting some traffic on its first day back. Some chocolate and coffee sounds pretty good, too, don’t you think?
How many times has this scenario happened to you over the past few weeks? You’re out of the house on a walk, enjoying some fresh air and a much-needed change of scenery. But in the distance, at the end of the block, you are acutely aware of a couple walking their dog heading your way and seemingly committed to hogging the sidewalk. So you’ve got to make a decision — do you pop out onto the street and circle around them, or do you jaywalk to the sidewalk on the other side of the street where you hope you won’t run into other pedestrians?
In German Village, there’s often a third option: many blocks have a little alley positioned at about mid-block, providing you with a new route to avoid the dog-walkers. Sure, the alleys are quaint and picturesque and interesting, but more importantly right now they have turned out to be very handy walking alternatives that permit you to maintain that six feet of clearance from the other potential virus vectors that might be out for a stroll. And our neighborhood is honeycombed with them, all ready to accept turn-ins by pedestrians who are trying to follow governmental guidelines and avoid unnecessary exposure. It’s almost as if German Village was designed with pandemic social distancing in mind — or the need to occasionally dodge a process server or veer around that incredibly talkative neighbor.
As a result of these weird times, Kish and I have been spending as much time walking in alleys as we have walking on main streets. We’re not going anywhere as the crow flies anymore, and if you mapped out our walks they would look as indirect and rambling as the roaming of a loose dog who is easily distracted by squirrels. And we’re getting to know every inch of the neighborhood a lot better.
Who knows? In the future, savvy realtors who are always eager to find something positive to say might just build pandemic preparation into their set speeches, and tell potential buyers that German Village is an ideal place to keep that social distance.
One of the more surreal aspects of working from home every day is that it’s easy to lose track of what day of the week it is. When there are no in-person meetings, no lunches, and no travel, every day seems pretty much the same — and Tuesday is a lot like Thursday.
Fortunately, in German Village we’ve got a simple way to tell the day of the week — our refuse cans. They serve a function akin to a runic calendar, where the positioning of items is the key indicator. You know it’s a Monday when the blue cans, for recyclables, are hauled out and positioned to be moved to the curb for pick-up, and you know it’s Tuesday when they’re put out on the edge of the sidewalk. By Tuesday afternoon, the blue cans are scattered and empty, and by Tuesday night they’ve been moved back and the green cans for regular garbage have been moved to the on-deck position. On Wednesday mornings the green cans have taken their places curbside, and by Wednesday night they’re empty and strewn willy-nilly along the sidewalk. By Thursday morning — we hope and expect, at least — all of the cans, of whatever color, have been returned to their standard positions. That’s how I knew that it was Thursday when I went for my walk this morning.
Thank goodness that trash collection is considered an essential service! Otherwise, I might really have to think hard to determine the day of the week.
There’s no trash can indicator for Friday, by the way — but no rational person needs a clue about Friday, anyway. If you’be been working as long as I have, you’ve got an instinctive, infallible inner clock that tells you that the work week has ended and the weekend is here. And no stupid pandemic is going to interfere with that!
Sometimes the coronavirus social distancing rules can work in your favor. On this morning’s walk, to avoid an approaching cluster of walkers, joggers, and people with a baby carriage, I veered right rather than left, as I normally would, and was treated to this pretty tree, in full flower, with the Stars and Stripes in the background.
Spring is a gorgeous time in German Village, with lots of flowering trees, tulips, daffodils, and other brightly colored blooms in sidewalk gardens, and a perfume-like fragrance in the air. it’s a great time to get out of your house and walk — while strictly maintaining that six-foot buffer zone, of course.
Normally, any furniture item put by the curb in German Village vanishes in a heartbeat. It will be interesting to see whether that reality has changed in the current climate. This couch appeared today with the obligatory “free” sign, but also two coronavirus-era additions — a sign stating that the couch “lived” in an apartment with one tenant and a dog, and a sign saying the couch is “COVID free.”
Will the pickers among us ratchet back their acquisitions during this period? Would you want to plop down onto a couch of uncertain provenance?
There was a bright, pretty, colorful sunrise over Schiller Park this morning. Even the dogs being walked and the statue of Herr Schiller appreciated it.
Spring is taking its time this year, arriving at an amble and not at a sprint. Although there is still a decided chill to the air, you can see certain signs of spring if you look carefully. Green shoots and soon to burst petals can be found in many of the sidewalk flower beds.
But our welcome floral friends aren’t the only indicators that spring is upon us. Spring is traditionally a time for cleaning, so discard traffic is also an indicator — like this impressively dead Christmas tree a neighbor put out yesterday. It’s the brownest, deadest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen, and looks like it would burst into flame at the slightest suggestion of heat.
If Christmas is finally over, and spring cleaning impulses are at work, can spring — warm, bright, glorious spring — be far behind?
Sometimes little changes can make a big difference — in your attitude, at least, if not in absolute reality. Take the light at the intersection of Third Street and Livingston Avenue, for example.
I walk through that intersection every day on my way to work, and I’ve memorized the traffic light and walk signal progression. First the cars turning from Third to head east on Livingston get the green light, then the cars streaming from the highway off-ramp and east on Livingston moving through the intersection, and then finally the cars moving south on Third — which is when pedestrians like me finally get the walk signal. The green light for eastbound Livingston traffic lasted forever and the walk signal that followed it was very brief — probably about 15 seconds, tops.
If you missed the walk window of opportunity you’d have about a two-minute wait, staring at the annoying red hand, breathing car exhaust fumes, and marveling at the willingness of cars to power through red lights until the walk signal came around again. Two minutes might not seem like much in absolute terms, but it seemed like an eternity as we waited, for permission to cross. As walkers approached the intersection, we hoped that our timing was right and we wouldn’t have that long wait. Once in a blue moon you’d luck out and hit the intersection at just the right instant, but usually you’d end up stuck in Red Hand Land.
Recently, however, they changed the signal progression. Now the green light for eastbound traffic on Livingston is much briefer, meaning that the whole progression is faster and the super-long wait for the walk signal has been eliminated. Now I don’t fret about the signal status when I approach the intersection, and I get to work faster without having to cool my heels in front of Katzinger’s Deli, watching the traffic zoom by.
I’m guessing that the traffic engineers didn’t make the change to help out pedestrians, and probably decided to alter the timing to do something about the speeders and red light runners barreling through the intersection on Livingston. But whether they were thinking of me and my fellow German Village walkers or not, I’d still like to say thanks for the signal change. It’s a small thing, but it’s made a real difference in our day. It’s amazing what not staring at a red hand for minutes at a time will do for your mood.
Well, the blue paint we saw on the bricks on our street didn’t deceive. Columbia Gas was in the ‘hood today, and our quaint bricks have been ripped up and replaced by ugly metal covers, glued down by even more unsightly asphalt smears. It’s left our street looking sad, and scarred.
We have some hope that the street will be returned to something close to its prior condition, because the bricks that were removed have been neatly stacked next to the gaping wounds. But can our street ever really regain its formerly brickish glory? And how do you get the asphalt off of brick, anyway?
St. Mary Catholic Church in German Village installed a new “Peace Garden” area along Third Street when it underwent renovation work recently. Among the items in the Peace Garden is a statue of a seated lady waiting patiently on a bench. According to the plaque at her feet, it’s a representation of Mrs. Plank, who I suspect was a faithful member of the congregation.
I pass St. Mary every morning on my walk, and I really like the Peace Garden and the statue — except on winter days when it snows. Because when it snows, as it has for the past few days, the placid Mrs. Plank becomes utterly snow-covered, and seeing her in that condition always makes the snowy day feel a few degrees colder. Brrrr! I want to help Mrs. Plank up so she could shed that blanket of snow, brush off her snowbound pillbox hat, and go someplace warm. Heck, I’d even spring for a cup of coffee at the Starbuck’s next door.
These bright blue lines appeared on our street this week. The lines look they might be an art project, or a way of marking off parking spaces, or an effort to turn our street into a hockey rink, but I’m concerned they mean trouble ahead instead.
The blue lines point to blue metal lids — like the one you can see on our sidewalk, just above the fence — that mark where water lines can be accessed. The blue lines appeared at a time that Columbia Gas is doing work in our neighborhood involving the relocation of certain gas meters. (The gas lines have bright yellow metal lids, which give the sidewalks a kind of dappled effect.) I’m fearful that the blue lines mean that our quaint brick-paved street is going to be ripped up as part of some big project. I’m hoping that is not the case, because once you tear up old brick streets they never look quite the same again.
Is there every a case where paint markings on a street don’t mean bad news ahead?
Thanksgiving is over, so it is officially okay to start thinking about Christmas. If you’re in Columbus and looking for a Christmas tree, stop by St. Mary’s Church in a German Village. This morning volunteers laid in a huge selection of trees to help make your holidays more festive — and pine-scented.