Guest Post: Paying Homage To Montclarions

Over Thanksgiving weekend, your blogging alumna decided to appreciate her old neighbors.  It’s easy to pay homage to Montclarions, who have somehow joined forces to create their unique Valhalla.

Top Ten Reasons To Appreciate Your Valhalla

  1. Amazing people — Everyone seems to have an expansive world view or passion they pursue.  No one’s boring.
  2. Food, real food — Remember those great avocados, fused cuisines, and bakeries?   Even non-foodies eat well.
  3. Political spectrum — While the spectrum’s left-of-center, there’s discourse and range.  You don’t notice it.
  4. Local elections — Bless the energy out there, and congrats to Libby, Jean and Jerry.  Some voters might care.
  5. School funding — At least you try to find money to use.  And you try to figure out better ways to spend it.
  6. Debate is good — On any subject, on any day, in the Hills.  Try that debate in places that are, well, more patriarchal.
  7. Protected nature — Yeah, you have done that forever.  When there’s any available land, it’s ready to protect.
  8. Culture anytime — Check out music, art, readings and other events.  There’s almost too much happening.
  9. Disasters anytime — The “gotta prepare” attitude?  Just live well and through a earthquake, fire or mudslide.
  10. Weather perfection — Cool summers and comfy winters are par, and nothing remarkable for all Oaklanders.

Last summer, your faithful blogger left the Bay Area.  The Utah scenery and cultural mores are other worldly!   However Montclair’s Valhalla is more rooted in the real world.  To my old neighbors, take this time to give thanks for your unsung every-days.

Top Ten Memorable Stops In Montclair

When you live in a place, it’s easy to forget what strikes visitors as unique, precious, entertaining or picture-worthy.  Most of the time, we end up showing our guests a few things from our tried-and-true list of memorable stops in Montclair.  Although this week’s tourists are aiming for San Francisco and Napa, at least we’re giving them a couple Oakland memories.

Top Ten Memorable Stops In Montclair

1.  Sibley Preserve – The volcano, mazes and seasonal flowers are crowd-pleasers.

2.  The Egg  Shop – Every village needs their old, traditional breakfast spot.

3.  Mayor’s Race – During elections, the candidates will shake paws at our Farmers Market.

4.  People Watch – Hitting one of the coffee shops at Mountain and Antioch is required.

5.  Shepherd Canyon – No time?  Torri Gate, on Escher Drive, provides a city-water view.

6.  Hills Drive – Taking any circuitous route through our narrowest streets, always memorable!

7.  Oakland Museum – When kids are around, we’re visiting those California exhibits.  (OL)

8.  Paramount or Fox – Getting tickets to anything (!) so you can oogle the ornate with guests.  (OL)

9.  Crogan’s – Just because it’s here, but steer clear if your guests are true foodies.

10. Library – Declaring “storybook” as you head past the library, firehouse and Fernwood area.

(OL) or Outside Limits:   Yes, yes, we know.  These two Oakland stops fall outside the Montclair District, but are included in the Top Ten Memorable Stops list…while visiting here.

Top Ten Reasons Montclair Works

Don’t worry, we aren’t wearing 100% rose-colored glasses.

After a nice weekend when we kept running into friendly faces, I started thinking about why Montclair works for us.  It’s a mix of the geography and the people, for starters.  Yet we are making a conscious decision to live in Oakland, even though there are plenty of great places in the Bay Area.

Fall Flowers In Montclair

What gives?  As the season abruptly changes, it felt like time to describe why Montclair works – but with caveats included as well.  So here are the Top Ten Reasons Montclair Works:

10.  Flowers bloom all year – Right now there are lovely purple flowers, and last month we saw the naked ladies (really called that, too).  Downside? Mother Nature also delivers mudslides, droughts and fire seasons.

9.  That weather, that weather – In the hills, the weather cools at night and warms in the days.  It’s nice up here.  Downside? Some days, we crave a little morning sunshine and curse that marine layer.

8.  Historical buildings aren’t old – We’re already preserving and honoring buildings less than a century old, like the Fernwood Drive storybook cottages.  Downside? We don’t have anything on downtown Oakland, where it all really started.

7.  Older guys standing sentinel – If you are living on the right block, then you know the older guy who’s been here for at least two score.  Downside? He may know everything, maybe too much.

6.  Shopkeepers who know you – Around here, merchants will remember you, know your preferences and likely trust you.  Downside? Forget turning into a complete recluse, as it takes effort to do.

5.  Schools of people – If you had or have kids in grade school, then you know about the intense parent, teacher and principal engagement.  Downside? Putting money into buildings, grounds or maintenance isn’t a priority.

4.  Our little, cute critters – We do like spotting deer, turkeys, airborne birds and occasional coyotes.  Downside? We’re less fond of the raccoons, skunks, rats, spiders or ants invading our turf.

3.  Oakland’s polyglot – There’s such a mix of different people, from so many different walks of life.  Downside? The economic and geographic divides are very stark.

2.  City or no-city – Montclair Village seems suburban or exurban, with the city this-close.  Downside? Nothing like the hills as a magnet for stealing cars or robbing homes!

1.  There’s a somewhere, there – Montclair boundaries are a bit amorphous, and we like it that way.  Downside? Oakland divides us into pieces, for police beats and council representation.

With these reasons in hand, you should feel pretty good about living here but hardly complacent.  As Hillary Clinton must have declared, “it takes a Village or District to make a difference, to speak up and pitch in.”