A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


One of the nicest things about living in downtown Springfield is the proximity to places like La Fiorentina, an Italian pastry shop and espresso bar in the South End. If you go into the espresso bar side, you'll find a case on the countertop with a few cheese or raspberry pastries in it to order with your coffee. Obviously, these are made on the bakery side. If you go over to the bakery side and try to order a few, however, not only do they not have them, but the clerk will give you a blank look like she doesn't know what you're talking about. So best to go early in the morning, when the bar is sure to have some still on hand.

Even better than the cheese danish--and they are to die for, the best in the city--are the sfogliatelle. Sfogliatelle are flaky, shell-shaped semolina pastries filled with ricotta cheese. Citrus-flavored, not too sweet. La Fiorentina's have bits of candied angelica in them. The sfogliatelle are only available at La Fiorentina on weekends. A huge treat for me is a Sunday morning stroll for cappuccino and sfogliatelle. If you can't be in Napoli, Roma, or Palermo for breakfast, La Fiorentina is an acceptable substitute. And as long as you stay inside, you might think you're actually in one of those other places.

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Good Bones

Springfield is really a very nice city, although it sometimes seems that most residents, as well as the powers that be in town, don't realize it. I'm really tired of listening to Mayor Ryan say that nobody could be enticed to invest in this city until we get our financial house in order. (So let's bring in a control board from an even more corrupt and mismanaged city, Boston, to fix things.)

Glenn Edwards, president of GELW Mass II LLC, isn't waiting around for Springfield to market itself. Recognizing the city's "good bones," he purchased four downtown buildings in March, and a fifth this month. The first transaction netted him a strip of retail space on Main Street known collectively as Marketplace, and the more recent transaction secured the adjoining four-story Johnson's Bookstore building, giving him a whole block in the center of the city, with a pedestrian walkway behind.

Mr. Edwards is planning several hundred thousand dollars' worth of renovations. Let's hope he has common sense and some sensitivity to the beauty and history of the buildings, unlike Mr. Ryan, whose legacy to the city is concrete.

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