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Blog :: 05-2015

This Weekend in Montclair: Van Vleck Garden Tour



It needs to be said: we all had a very long winter. Even as recently as last week, I was tempted to turn my heat back on.

But now, everyone seems energized by the warm weather, especially since it's been such a long time coming. Since moving here, spring feels even more magical to me. Early on, when barely anything was in bloom, I'd walk to Watchung Plaza to get my coffee and notice the crocuses popping up in my neighbors' gardens. I love hearing birds early in the morning and watching how the changes in daylight start to breathe life back into people.

These days, I notice all the changes in those gardens - beds that have evolved from tentative poking buds to riots of flowers. For those who like that kind of thing, there's a great garden-watching opportunity this Friday and Saturday, May 29 and 30. Van Vleck House - a magnificent 5.7-acre garden that's open to the public - is hosting its annual Roses to Rock Gardens Tour, a weekend for voyeuristic garden lovers to tour eight private home gardens in Montclair and Glen Ridge and see what their neighbors have going on in their backyards. Tickets are on sale here (or on the days of the event at Van Vleck House, 21 Van Vleck Street, Montclair) - and I highly recommend it as a way to get yet another feel for the area.

To me, witnessing spring and summer come into bloom is one of the major benefits of living in a walkable suburb. When you navigate your world on foot, you really can stop and smell the flowers.

We All Need A Place To Call Home

Linas Cat A few years ago I rode my bike to the local farmers' market to get some Swiss chard for dinner. PAWS (Pound Animal Welfare Society) had a booth set up with orphaned cats and dogs. I did not come home with chard that day, but instead with a beautiful Siamese kitten. (Too little to ride safely in my bike basket, I pedaled home so I could transport him in my car.)

Bodhisattva is just one of my family's rescued cats. At the moment we have five (though two are just staying temporarily as foster kitties).

I don't consider myself "that cat lady," but I do have a soft spot for animals that need new families. Last week, when Keller Williams held their annual day of community volunteering, it's no surprise that I chose donate my time to the Montclair Animal Shelter. One of my five furry friends came from there and I know so many people in town who consider that their first stopgive where you live Panza if they want to expand their family.

It's also no surprise that a walkable town like Montclair has such a strong dog-owner subculture. I've seen people in the park or uptown who know every passing dog by name! (Cats, as we all know, generally keep a lower profile.)

I'm really proud to work for an organization that makes such a strong commitment to animal welfare. Animals need homes, just like people do. If you fall into the latter category, give me a call - I can find a home for you too!  973-809-5277

ISO Walkable Suburb with Castle!

There are a couple of places in Montclair that feel like happy secrets and when I'm reminded of them I always feel the need to share.

Kips CastleOne such secret is Kip's Castle. Sitting high atop First Mountain, this majestic structure offers an equally majestic view. There are no lords or ladies living there - in fact it's actually part of the county park system - so visitors are welcome to wander up and check out the grounds.

Kip's Castle is not too far from my home and I'm sure readers of this blog will not be surprised that I occasionally take a walk up there. I'm no castle fanatic, but I always like a good turret. That said, I'm usually most taken with the winding road that leads up there, and the stone wall that flanks the road. The whole thing feels very otherworldly, making it even more delightful that it's practically in my backyard.

There are other houses in Montclair that, while not bona fide castles, certainly look like castles. And there are plenty of charming, modest single-family homes. I think the thing that makes Montclair so magical, is that not only do we have dwellings on either end of the spectrum - we have everything in between. And all of us, no matter where we live, have created quite a vibrant and inclusive community together.

Have I piqued your interest? Call me! 973.809.5277


Saturday Night in Montclair


I think the scariest thing for those of us that hail from the city is that the suburbs can't possibly provide that same level of excitement - that feeling that anything could happen at any moment. And, in a way, that's true. Montclair is not, and never will be, Manhattan.

But if you're on or around Church Street this cool spring Saturday night, you might feel Manhattan getting a run for its money. The cobblestone street will be silly with people showing up for, or leaving, a movie at the Clairidge (Montclair's answer to the Angelika...truly). Couples with dogs will be eating dinner under the big umbrella in front of Raymond's. Families of five will be splitting off for cupcakes or frozen yogurt or salted caramel macarons from Le Petit Parisien.

There will be live music on the corner, as there is every Saturday night once the weather warms. And on this particular Saturday night, if you walk around the corner and stroll for three minutes on South Fullerton you'll come upon a free, outdoor performance in front of St Luke's Church - an open-to-the-public dance rehearsal of a work in progress by choreographer Robert Mark Burke as part of the Dance on the Lawn project.

I know... I didn't even get into all the shopping and people watching to be done. With all due respect, take that, New York.

Photo: Tony Turner