"If you love life, why are you rushing through it?"
I strained to see, and then read aloud those words, appearing in the window of a new bike shop called, "Rolling Orange," that's just opened in our area of Brooklyn. The shop was drawing attention from myself, my husband and daughter, as well as a number of other patrons who sat across the street at an outdoor restaurant .
"Mama, we aren't rushing through life," my daughter said.
"Well some days, yes, we are," I responded. "For instance, in the mornings when I'm constantly trying to rush us out of the door to make sure you get to school on time," I added.
In my head, I tried not to remind myself that my daughter only had one day of kindergarten left to go, and that come September, I'd no longer be allowed to accompany her into her first grade class and spend an extra twenty minutes with her at school in the mornings. The year had flown by, and there was much rushing. Too much.
After dinner, we walked over to peer in the shop window. What we saw was a piece of the Netherlands that had made its way into "Breukelen".
Hanging from the ceilings were bikes. Along the showroom floor were more bikes. And these were not like bikes we'd seen before on the streets of New York. They were big, and colorful, with plenty of seat for my seat. Each one had some type of basket or clever attachment that would allow you to ride comfortably with anything from a bag of groceries to a gaggle of children. Why, if Miss Almira Gulch, the mean old lady that doesn't like Dorothy or her dog in "The Wizard of Oz," had one of these bikes and baskets, I'm fairly certain she would have found it impossible to be mean to Dorothy or Toto.
"How much do you think these things go for?" I asked my husband.
"I think they cost expensive!" my daughter responded immediately. We laughed along with another couple also looking in the window.
As these bikes were fairly large, and our apartment was fairly small, and I was fairly certain that we weren't willing to spend money on extra storage space for a bike like this, for now, we'll enjoy watching others riding them. Perhaps another weekend day, we'll all stop in and take a test drive.
When I got home, I checked out their website, where I was met with an introduction that said, "Hey, it's ok…meander…feel life," and their tag line of "3 Manufacturers, 16 Bikes, 1 Common Belief. Slower is Better." They won me over without even having to step into the shop. (Although I did go back to the shop the next day and was greeted by a lovely, friendly Dutch woman who happily allowed my daughter to try out any and all of the kid compartments on their bikes, and who took the time to answer my daughter's question to her about how exactly they'd gotten the bikes to hang from their second story ceiling.)
I asked for a brochure, but they told me in their efforts to stay green, everything was on their website. I asked them how business was, and they said it was doing quite well. That made me happy, because a place like this is the kind of place that you want to see open in your neighborhood. It gives off a sense of fun and family and a better economy ahead. Sure enough, later that day, I saw a bright green bike bought from the store parked around the corner from our apartment--adding a little whimsy to the plain black fence to which it was chained.
There's another place that has opened up that I pass every morning that's also worth a look. Flavor Paper, is a hand-screened wallpaper company that started in New Orleans and has now moved to Cobble Hill.
Walking by their studio, you can get a glimpse of their massive printing/screening tables and watch how these artists create bright, hip, wallpapers that fall somewhere between sixties and seventies fantasy wallpapers and something you'd find in Willy Wonka's house.
During an open studio tour that we took recently, we saw their factory, their mod showroom, their super-mod bathroom and they even showed us their "scratch and sniff" line of wallpapers. We tried the bananas on silver foil--although my daughter swore it smelled more like strawberry than banana.
I have to admit that in general I didn't have any great desire to put up wallpaper at home. But for some reason, it's easy to connect with the artisans at Flavor Paper, and the papers as well. Perhaps in my case, it's because some of their papers remind me of an old Peter Max poster that I had framed over my bed growing up. Perhaps it's because I am quite certain that some of these wallpapers can be found on the walls of rock stars and celebrities and this is potentially a cool way us common-folk could do something a bit uncommon. Or perhaps it's because they have a real sense of humor in many of their papers (check out the fishnets, or the one with multiple "blades and broken glass,") and I appreciate a great sense of humor.
I'm fairly certain most of their products are more costly than our apartment's paint job, but I still enjoy walking past their production window and seeing new wallpaper samples they have resting there. While I stop to peek inside, my daughter enjoys stepping onto a piece of glass they put into the outside sidewalk that houses a neon flower--a flower found in one of their popular wallpapers.
It's places like these, that I have the privilege of walking by day after day, that encourage me to slow down and stop rushing, for at least a moment.
This is an original NYC Moms Blog. When Eden isn't out looking for other cool spots in her Brooklyn neighborhood she is Executive Producer at CNN's New York Bureau.