It’s five o’clock on a Monday morning, I am first one up as usual, which is my curse for not buying that old and gnarled woman’s wares along that dusty road all those years ago. Each year I rise earlier, and if this keeps up, before long I will meet myself getting up as I am going to bed. No matter. It’s five a.m. in Omaha and I am looking out the window at Howard Street in the Old Market area of town.
Robin and I are sharing a third-floor loft with daughter Kari and Jon, a space which AirBnB has graciously supplied to us in return for our sending them a shekel or two. Our plans for the day include a trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo, which is a great place to spend a sunny day. We will be here in Omaha for the next two days, then the four of us will return to our respective homes and the routines of life.
The garbage trucks are now making their way through this part of town, and getting mixed reviews. It’s a good idea to pick up the trash when streets are not jammed with people and cars, but the robotic method of collection creates a perfect symphony of din while mortals are trying to sleep.
It’s all so urban. Living in the provinces as we do, one forgets the delights of cities at night. It’s not only the garbage collectors at 5:00 a.m., but the intoxicated passersby at 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., and even 4:00 a.m. who take the streets as their own, talk in very loud voices, and in so doing add large dollops of local color to our otherwise drab existences.
Life is good.
I’ve lived half my life in large cities, and half in smaller towns. I found that I am much more suited to the village than the metropolis. Primarily because it takes so little time to get out and away from the smaller venues. From my home in Paradise it is a matter of a five minute walk and I am in the countryside. Out where the birds sing, there are the sounds of cows lowing and of sheep bleating, and where you must clean the bottoms of your shoes before you re-enter your house.
It’s all part of a package, isn’t it? Like when you buy a new car these days. Let’s say you want heated seats to take the shock off getting in the car when temperatures are nearing absolute zero. You can’t get just heated seats, but must purchase a package that includes a sunroof (rarely used), faux-gold license plate brackets, and lighted mirrors on the visors to apply the lipstick that you could have put on before you left the house.
So you move to the rural to get the ease of moving across town, the decrease in annoying and sometimes life-threatening traffic, and if you’re lucky, the lessened chances of being accosted by footpads, highwaymen, and pickpockets.
In return for these benefits, you must accept reduced opportunities for shopping, fewer art galleries, smaller symphony orchestras, and the aromas of the countryside which range from the sublime (new-mown hay, wildflowers) to the ridiculous (manure in its seemingly infinite variety).
The Old Market area of Omaha is easy to like. It is a small area of only a few blocks square where sleazy and stylish rub noses without coming to blows. The building that our BnB is located in dates back to 1887. There are horse and carriages rides to take, violinists on street corners, brick streets galore, and an interesting mixture of tourists and locals.
Buildings within the Old Market have served a variety of purposes, and were built during various eras. Originally built to sell groceries wholesale and retail to the city of Omaha and beyond, the Old Market district was preceded by the Market House in Omaha’s Jefferson Square.Old Market, Wikipedia
After supper last night, we wandered in and out of shops that were … eclectic might be the best word. The Hollywood Candy Shop was a museum of schlock, with chipped statues of Elvis Presley and the Blues Brothers hanging around dented pink Cadillacs and circa 1936 popcorn-vending Model T truck. I knocked over a yellow sign that read: Danger: Wet Floor and even though I immediately set it back up I was rewarded with the best stink-eye I’ve received in decades, aimed at me by the guy with the mop in his hands.
There was one shop seemingly entirely devoted to decks of cards, plates, fridge magnets, dishtowels and other bric-a brac that had one common thread. Each has something written on it that you wouldn’t want to be seen on your coffee table when the bishop came for tea. For instance, we found an entire table of varied items that all had an F-bomb in their name or slogan. I think the name of the shop might have been Tawdry R Us.