Here’s what suburban news editor Maria Martin is into right now. (See if you can find the common factor in these five things):
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Just down the road from my home, a group of folks spent a day installing a little pocket park. I took a spin down the slide and endured a few odd glances in the name of research. So why should a woman with grown children care about playgrounds? Why, because that first grandchild arrived a couple of months ago, and I’m seeing Kansas City in a whole new light. Among the first places I’d like to visit with him are the inclusive playgrounds popping up all around the area. Every child should have a place to play, and friends to hang out with, and that’s a lesson I know my grandson’s parents are on board with, too.
Let me share a bit of wisdom. I recently turned a certain age that comes with silver hair (natural highlights), a weariness of all mediocrity in life (store-bought chocolate chip cookies? Not worth the calories), and a growing waistline. Chocolate has to be memorable — downright meaningful — a life lesson I hope to share with little Malcolm early on (when his parents aren’t around). Any chocolate from Christopher Elbow is an experience. The chocolate croissants at Le Monde Bakery in North Kansas City are tops. Because I’m a gritty reporter, I’ve tried just about every chocolate cake in the city. Avenues Bistro in Brookside wins with its chocolate gateaux.
My favorite is City Thrift in Waldo. (Tip: Look for a thrift store that’s run by a charity, and be sure you donate only to those that do something decent for humanity). True story: I donated a bag of clothes there, returned a month later to shop and as I wandered, this fantastic green shirt called out to me. I grabbed the silky garment and had a moment of déjà vu, as if we had met in a past life and were destined to be together. I brought it home, gave it a wash and slipped it on. My husband remarked, “I’ve always liked that shirt on you.” That’s right, folks. I had purchased the shirt (at the same spot I’m sure), somehow donated it back (wrong pile), and repurchased it. Now that’s a faithful customer. And guess what? The children’s clothing section is fantastic.
I’ve lived in New England, Florida and Colorado. I’ve never lived in a zone that’s so tree-friendly. No, I won’t find a jacaranda, nor an aspen colony, but, oh, the spring and fall color from the flowering and deciduous trees. Just a walk around Loose Park is a marvel of trees that bring shade, draw birds and create a wonderland. Also, guess what trees are good for? Climbing. Because, you know, adorable babies turn into little tree-climbing monkeys in a blink.
First, a dislike: People who visit other countries and “discover” that “the natives are friendly” — or that poverty exists in Third World countries. But I’m going to break my own rule here. I’ve lived in many states, and even countries, and I can honestly say that when I moved here six years ago, I was shocked. You’re really friendly, Kansas City. I noticed it the first time I was stuck trying to merge into a lane of traffic and a driver paused and waved me in. I’m no Pollyanna. I work at a newspaper, and I’m sickened by the crime rate. But stop asking me how I could move here from Denver. No, we don’t have mountains, but we have trees, chocolate, great thrift stores, and warm, kind people who stop to make conversation with you. Especially when you’re, say, walking an adorable baby.