On one of the nicest days we’ve had this spring I decided to walk from the bridge over the Thruway to the Carmine Liberta Bridge over the Wallkill and back again to see what I could see. I left my car in the park-and-ride lot and began walking west. My plan was to keep to the south side of Main Street walking west and then move to the north side of Main Street on my return. This, of course, was partly dictated by the fact that there is only a sidewalk on the south side of the bridge across from the Mobil station and the Super 8 motel (ugh!). As I crossed over the bridge, I was unfortunately reminded of the noisy California freeway system. Between the traffic on the Thruway and the traffic on Route 299, I could hardly hear myself think. My leisurely stroll along the main street of bucolic New Paltz was not starting out exactly as I had envisioned it.
I passed the Super 8 motel on my left and began to feel a little better when I crossed over South Putt Corners Road, passed the Sunoco station and saw the green grass in front of ShopRite. Just then, one of the young students from Brazil, who are attending the SUNY New Paltz Haggerty English language program, came up alongside me. He and I met during weekly sessions this semester where town residents volunteer to help international students develop fluency in English. The charming young man spoke of his relief that the exam period was almost over and we had a chance to make plans for the coming summer months to help him and other international students get to know our community and region while they are here until late August. During the weekly conversation sessions, town residents who are native English speakers share common phrases and idioms with the students. As we approached the middle school and Route 32 south, where we would part company, I took the opportunity to share the expression “it was meant to be” with my young friend. We both marveled at the coincidence of our chance meeting and as he began walking south towards the campus, he agreed with me that our chance meeting was “…meant to be.”
After crossing the road I passed what is variously called the La Bella or Dedricks or Convenient Deli plaza and decided to stop for lunch at Moxie Cup. I ordered one of their delicious ham and cheese scones and a cup of coffee. As the friendly waiter put my coffee on the tray, he smiled and informed me that the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce was paying for my coffee as part of a community outreach initiative. I smiled back and said, “It was meant to be.”
Now this next part is absolutely true and illustrates why I take these walks from time to time. As I was enjoying my lunch at the street-side table, Peter Ingellis, of the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce, walked by. I had the opportunity to thank him and the Chamber members for my coffee and we talked a bit more about the many new and refreshingly different projects Peter has brought to the Chamber and the community since taking over as the acting director. I hope the ‘acting’ part of his title will be removed soon. Peter has a real community sense and is truly community minded. I told him that our chance meeting was, yes you guessed it, “meant to be.”
As I walked further west, I came to the Awareness Shop. The sign said it was ‘world famous’ and here I had never even been inside. I decided to remedy this and as I walked in, I was greeted by pleasant aromas and an array of products including candles, crystals, oils, incense, meditation mats and something called ‘smudge’. Evidently, you can smudge yourself and you can smudge others. Others can, of course, smudge you. A brief pamphlet describes the ritual and you can learn more about it if you drop in to this welcoming, calming and peaceful world-famous shop. I told the shopkeeper that I learned something new thanks to my visit and I said it seemed to me that my visit was…you know. But I think it really was.
I enjoyed many more fascinating sites and sounds including the bulletin board on the Rock de Pasta wall just south of Gourmet Pizza. If you are ever bored, the posters will show you the variety of interesting activities that seem to be taking place every week of the year in our town. As I crossed to the west side of the Carmine Liberta bridge and began my return journey, it did occur to me that the bridge deserves a new paint job and I hope our public officials will turn their attention to this issue soon.
As I walked out of B&L Jewelers where I stopped to get some information from Bill Luedeke who has helped hundreds to treat themselves and others to pretty baubles over the years, I ran into Garvan and Leonie McCloskey of Shea O’Brien’s. I had a chance to thank Garvan for his efforts and the efforts of the New Paltz Rotary in raising over $15,000 for the New Paltz Community Foundation’s current drive to renovate and restore the home of Family of New Paltz. I also thanked Garvan for shaving off that beard as he promised to do if the fund-raising goal was met. As I returned to my car, I reflected on what I saw and heard. It was a great afternoon. I thought, “It really was meant to be.”