After months of separation, the town of Granville greeted me with a warm, tight hug. The shopfront-lined streets called out in greeting with their tempting window displays and wide open doors. Nearby trees waved in my direction with swaying branches of invitation. Flowered bushes and gardened corners released sweet scents of a fresh start. The heat of the day’s sunshine slowed my pace to a relaxed walk; I felt comfortable and at ease. Dogs in passing let their pink tongues hang from their mouths, anticipating a generous water bowl nestled next to a storefront. I pass a statue of children in front of the community’s library, each child bearing a small, fabric mask. Granville did not welcome the pandemic, yet she was persevering. I noticed families sharing cones of refreshing ice cream at Whit’s, and I heard faint laughter through bright, smiling teeth. With each step, I fell deeper into the safety of my college town.
Alfie’s Wholesome Food popped into my mind. I quickly turned around and made my way to the small pathway. The Tennie, the V.W, the Upper Haight, or the Alex… choosing an Alfie’s sandwich was an inevitable challenge, one I would welcome any day of the week. The slices of thick turkey, dollops of sweet fig jam, soft cheeses, and fresh sprouts made my mouth tingle in anticipation and excitement. Bowls of cold, creamy egg, chicken, and tuna salads whispered sweet nothings from behind the glass barrier. Leaves of fresh salad danced around the pre-made, plastic containers. As my glance shifted to the left, I saw ceramic stands of gluten-free peanut butter brownies, white chocolate raspberry loafs of goodness, and smooth balls of banana bread. Overwhelmed by this reunitement, my temptations took over. I placed my order and patiently waited by the window. Small pots of succulents lined the counter; I couldn’t help but smile. A small community board showcased local companies, events, organizations, and news. Bag of goodies in hand, I found a quiet place to enjoy my first lunch back in town. Small, white tables speckle the surrounding paths and patches of freshly-cut grass. My sandwich brought a sense of familiarity and serenity, almost like catching up with a friend after a long break. The intensity of my glass of rosemary lemonade awakened my mouth; I always walk away from an Aflie’s meal feeling satisfied yet clean. Curious bees followed me to the trash can, frantically flying around for the possible remnants of my sandwich. I decided to stop in Just Write, a small store full of floral stationary, colorful pens, and decorative tumblers for drinks. New selections of Kate Spade and Lilly Pulitzer’s office supplies sparkled under the lights. I took a quick lap around the collections, making mental notes about which notepads I wanted to possess at a later time. The personable worker and I exchanged pleasantries, and I left the store with the promise of a return.
Back onto the sidewalk, the shapes of shadows from the trees shaded me as I wandered further down the road. I passed rows of quaint homes and colonial, well-kept cottages. Hanging baskets of flowers, vintage rocking chairs, and groomed hedges winked in my direction; the curb appeal brought a satisfied grin to my face. Granville truly never fails to welcome me with friendly, open arms.