My friend, Cara, used to live about 1/2 mile from the place we’re moving to. She is part of the reason I’m looking forward to the experience. She and a couple of other friends who still live in the vicinity have talked about all the places they love to walk or bike to. The funky little coffee house/snack shop/hang out that used to be a sporting goods/bait & tackle shop. It has picnic tables and miscellaneous chairs outdoors and you can buy from a taco or crepe truck while listening to live music on the weekends. Cara used to hang out there a lot. I’ve been there a couple of times but the parking is tough and we just didn’t think about it as an option. Now, though, it’ll be an easy bike ride. Or the local, organic food co-op that’ll be just around the corner. They have this huge front yard with tables and benches and people go there to work or socialize. They have music twice a week and people are always milling about there. It’s definitely a third place. And there are some coffee houses, an ice cream shop owned by a local dairy farm, good restaurants, fun used bookstores, a thriving farmer’s market, parks and trails, and so much more all within about a 1/2 mile radius. We only live about 3 miles from there now and we have gone there often on evenings and weekends for specific things (like to meet a friend or our daughter for dinner). But living there and casually walking or biking around for no time-bound purpose is different and, I believe, will make it easier to connect with others and feel a sense of place. At least that’s the theory I’m testing. Cara was so pleased by the options when she lived here that she and her husband made a strong commitment not to drive their car on the weekend, but to travel only by bike or foot. I don’t think I can convince my husband to do the same. At least not until someone opens a Mellow Mushroom there. But I hope that Cara’s experience and others we’ve talked to translate to our daily life as well. Stay tuned.