First Walk of 2013 Thru Skippack Village

Skippack Village, the first day of 2013

Skippack Village, the first day of 2013

It is a gray winter day, cold and clear. My wife, Debby, AKA Mrs. Skippack Blogger, and I grab our coats and gloves and step outside. Within five minutes, we are walking in Skippack, an experience which remains inspiring and enchanting, even though we have taken this walk uncountable times since we moved here, now more than four years ago

It’s about 10:30 a.m. on New Year’s day, most shops and restaurants are closed. The cold air agrees to remain placid and gentle. Few people are on the street. A chance to see Skippack Village in the stillness of winter, before spring brings the hustle and bustle of events; Spring Fling, First Fridays, summertime concerts, the Skippack Car Show, and more.

Back Porch Cafe: The End, Followed by the Beginning

We approach the Back Porch Cafe, which has been closed for months. It is the perfect place to start the new year in Skippack, for the shut-down restaurant does not signify an end but a new beginning. The Back Porch Cafe will re-open in 2013, with new management. In fact, the restaurant will be brought back to life by our hard-working friend Deana, who owns and operates Mal’s American Diner, which we find consistently satisfying, with a varied menu, reasonable prices, and generous hours of operation.

The Back Porch Cafe in Skippack Village will re-open in 2013.

The Back Porch Cafe in Skippack Village will re-open in 2013.

That is Skippack Village in nutshell; a town into which entrepreneurs and small business owners breathe new life, year after year.

Playcrafters Theater: Memory and Anticipation

Each landmark we pass hints at past and future: both a happy memory and something to which we can look forward.

For example, we walk past the corner of Skippack Pike and Store Road and see the large red barn that is home for Playcrafters of Skippack, our community theater. My imagination wanders to the magic of theater night in Skippack; walking with Debby to the barn theater, climbing the narrow staircase leading to the stage, seeing lights go up the moment a live performance is about to begin, and discovering talented performers from our local area. Even the chocolate chip cookies and coffee served as refreshments during intermission are special to me. Debby and I enjoyed many fine performances during the 2012 season. The 2013 season, which will begin in April, promises to be equally wonderful.

Hotel Fiesole: Enjoying the Past in the Present

The Skippack Blogger's wife inside the trolley car at Hotel Fiesole.

I thought about you: Look closely and you will see the Skippack Blogger’s wife inside the trolley car at Hotel Fiesole.

We walk past Hotel Fiesole, a beautiful brick building, grand but not overwhelming, which features a trolley car incorporated into a side wall, preserving a bit of local history and providing additional space for dining tables.

Debby goes inside the large glass panel doors to the interior of the trolley car. She waves at me from the window. I take her picture as if she were a passenger on a departing train.

Shooting through the Trolley Car window produces a filmy, translucent image of Mrs. Skippack Blogger. Through photography, I capture the feeling of a melancholy memory; my beloved leaving on a train. I think of words to an old song:

I took a trip on a train and I thought about you

At every stop that we made, I thought about you

And when I pulled down the shade, then I really felt blue

I Thought About You, lyrics by Johnny Mercer

Walking for leisure in Skippack frees my imagination to see song lyrics in everyday occurrences.

The Best Way to Merge the Past and Future: Over a Beer

The Skippack Web Guy, Brad DeForest (at left) with the Skippack Blogger toasting the New Year in 2013 at Hotel Fiesole in Skippack.

The Skippack Web Guy, Brad DeForest (at left) with the Skippack Blogger toasting the New Year in 2013 at Hotel Fiesole in Skippack.

Last night, I was at the same hotel, drinking a beer with my pal Brad DeForest, who creates the web design and social media pages for I Love Skippack. Taking out his trusty iPad, Brad showed me his latest enhancements to the website. We talked about events of the year that is ending and potential directions for the year that begins now.

Brad, the Skippack Web Guy, provides the polish and wherewithal needed to take the my writing and our message about our love for Skippack to an expanding audience. How incredibly lucky that, starting out with so few resources, I have the good fortune to join forces with a professional with so much talent and ability. But our far greater accomplishment is, as Brad puts it, “we are still having fun.”

Let’s drink to 2013 my friend.

The Cabana Bar Takes a Break

Debby and I now pass the Cabana Bar, sheltered now from winter by thick sheets of plastic on all sides. I look forward to spring when the plastic will be taken down. People, young and more middle-aged, singles and couples, will come for drinks and conversation and fill up the Cabana bar. They will be joined by families, who will take outdoor tables at the adjoining Basta Pasta. Performers like my friend Gabe Schick AKA the Tune Dude, Dr. Ben Grisafi of Dr. Ben’s Backbone Blues Band, and popular folk-hipsters, the WhiskeyHickon Boys will provide entertainment. The musical notes will blend with laughter and the coming and going of good people to form a pulse of vibrant activity in the heart of Skippack Village.

The Cabana Bar in Skippack Village: Resting for the winter

The Cabana Bar in Skippack Village: Resting for the winter

The Best Way to Finish: Breakfast at Mal’s

Our walk continues. The Parc Bistro is on the other side of the street; like Hotel Fiesole, an impressive building, it balances the Skippack landscape. The Parc Bistro is one of the village’s most highly rated restaurants. What special occasion in 2013 will justify a visit?

We approach the angel which sits in front of the water wheel at Amelia’s Accents gift shop. I hope the angel will bless Debby and myself for a happy and healthy new year, and you, my dear reader, as well.

Soon, we come to the field which is home to the Farmer’s Market of Skippack and Love Hot Dog Company. How joyful this empty field becomes through association with people such as Jason Brown, the big guy with the big heart, who serves exotic gourmet sandwiches as well as more pedestrian burgers and dogs for lunch weekdays throughout the winter.

Across the street is La Villa Mexican Grille. Last fall, we sat up at night with executive chef and owner Rene Zepeda. He described his dream to build an outdoor patio bar. Since then, he has obtained his liquor license and now serves beer, wine and mixed drinks, including outrageously delicious Margaritas. We look forward to hanging out at Rene’s patio bar come spring.

As we get closer to WaWa, at the intersection of Skippack Pike and Bridge Road, we turn around, back into village, back to Mal’s American Diner for breakfast.

As long as I live in Skippack, I will be a millionaire, for I have all this in my backyard.

Happy 2013.

The angel that sits by the water wheel outside Amelia's Accents gift shop

The angel that sits by the water wheel outside Amelia’s Accents gift shop: May the angel bless us for a good year.