Recently, one of my friends mentioned that Olean sounded so idyllic (until she remembered the snow), and it really put me in a contented frame of mind when it comes to my town. It is almost pathologically charming, and since I live in the city itself, I get to enjoy it all pretty much constantly. Here are some little vignettes about Olean, to help remind you that you should, in fact, move here (especially if you have a remote job).
I walk to work each morning through the local community college (JCC) campus. Right now our mornings are chilly and foggy. By the time I walked through today, the fog was lifting, but still clinging to the hills.
At least once a week, Bob and I (and sometimes the kids) eat at a local diner, Green Acres. They make a tremendous fish sandwich on Fridays. I like to top it with the tartar sauce and the coleslaw.
They also made this amazing California breakfast bowl once. I’ve never seen it on the menu again (but haven’t been back on a Sunday, I think, in the morning), but it was boss.
Another great option is the Hungry Burro, which is the local food truck. They make really great vegetarian grain bowls, and breakfast burritos. Their nitro cold brew coffee is so creamy and yum. It makes me go “mmm kofë.”
Another favorite downtown is On the Side. It’s subs and stuff, and it is like 20 feet wide and 150 feet long. It’s like eating in a shipping container. But the fish sub is to die for.
I walked with the boys to Tim Hortons the other day from our house (it’s an easy lure, because: tim bits). Henry can’t sit still. He’s got a lot of pent-up energy, and he tends to need to shift around and need to constantly floss. He’s also incredibly social, particularly with grown-ups. He loves to chat with them, and he will also go up and complement people if he likes their hair, shirt, necklace, whatever. So, we are in Tim Hortons eating our respective breakfasts, and Henry suddenly is chatting with the old ladies at the table next to us. They cooed over him, and he just glowed. We exchanged smiles, and they waved to Grant as well (who was busy stuffing tim bits).
It’s spooky season, which means it’s hockey season. Hockey is a fairly big part of our community, and it’s as common to hear that kids want to sign up for hockey as basketball or indoor soccer or football. Both Grant and Eleanor are enthusiastic about hockey. While at the rink last weekend, we saw two kids the twins knew from school and set up skating playdates for the next few weeks.
A few weekends ago, Bob got up at 6 am (we are not, habitually, early risers; we’re both night owls) and went to help build a new park. It was actually a rebuild of a park — the very park Bob grew up playing on. King Street Park is where our twins grew up playing, too, because we lived around the corner from it when they were babies. The equipment hadn’t changed in 30 years or more. Finally the common council was able to make it happen, and part of the build was a community event to actually put the park together. There were a ton of organized volunteers (like, Bona Responds from St. Bonaventure University) and aldermen (I think it should be alderpeople, but), Bob, and a couple other city folk. The kids and I came and helped rake the mulch, which took a surprising amount of time. It was exhausting and really fun, and the park has been crazy busy ever since! For people familiar with King Street Park, one of the pine trees has had a heart carved in it forever. (Also, there are more cool changes coming to King Street Park! Stay tuned!)
There’s a big billboard for Reids Food Barn that has been in the same place for, oh, eternity (the nice thing about Olean is that some things never change, and this is also a challenge). The billboard itself gets updated about quarterly, but it’s always Reids. Grant wanted a pic by it. My kids like to say “we fibbed about the barn” and “not a real barn” (both statements on the billboard). He also recently insisted on carrying our basket around Reids. Until I needed to add spaghetti sauce to it. Then it was TOO HEAVY MOM.
The farmer’s market that was finished late summer is wonderful. First, it’s two blocks from our house. Second, our cats take turns walking there with us each weekend and they’re becoming pretty popular with the vendors. It has also enhanced the park it’s in (Lincoln Park, right in the center of the city); the park has gotten some much-needed attention, and it’s also become much busier! On Thursdays, there’s music in the park, and one evening when we went they set up inside the market (rather than the gazebo) and it was pretty perfect.
Finally, here are some gratuitous photos of Grant (that are also on instagrant), but I think they help to subtly reinforce the idea that Olean is a kind of shangri-la.