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Paula Olson, The Northwest Connection

Paula Olson, The Northwest Connection

I just saw it on my neighborhood blog. One of my favorite local bakeries has closed. The lease was up and, while the bakery had successfully existed in its location for twenty-five years, the property owner and the bakery owner could not come to terms on a new lease. Sadly, the bakery’s two other locations are nowhere nearby and lack the same ambiance.

The why seems irrelevant at this point because the doors are shut and papered now with no notice given to loyal customers prior to the closure. What matters to me is that a friendly, cozy atmosphere and the memories I associate with that oddly-shaped corner building are now just that: memories.

I used to push the stroller through that neighborhood when my son was a baby, place to sit, simply to enjoy the moment and receive some stimulation from adult conversation around me. When my son was in preschool I took him there occasionally and we would buy a treat of a marionberry scone or a blueberry muffin.

He landmarked the entrance by its massive and well-worn rolling pin handles on the doors. We took a walk one weekend with my folks on a very cold, foggy morning – they treated us to hot chocolate in the toasty bakery and we enjoyed a nice conversation. Then, when my son attended a school not far from the bakery, I would sometimes walk over after saying goodbye and prepare for the day amid the aroma of seasonal lattes and fresh pastry.

Neighbors are mourning the loss of a local institution, a namesake for the neighborhood. The food may not have topped the charts of haute cuisine but it was good and reasonably priced, with killer cinnamon rolls and hearty soup on a chilly day. The existence of this small place was dear to many.

So what next? My cynical side envisions a cookie-cutter chain coffee shop plunking down in this popular location frequented by walkers, runners, cyclists, and parents with strollers. Or worse, a doomed-to-fail pet supply store or tiny overpriced grocery. But whatever follows, I will take it in stride. I value the reminiscences of spending some one-on-one time with my son there, meeting friends before launching into the rest of the day, and remembering the good feelings of being part of a neighborhood. The bakery closed but life goes on and we’ll create different memories.

The bakery’s closure is an apt allegory for parenting, come to think of it. The kids keep growing up and, in some cases, away, but while we are together we can let experiences unfold that linger in our hearts. These moments do not have to be exceptional but they are nevertheless special. Parents move on to new things along with their children, but the memories are there and opportunities to create new ones are right before us.

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