Everyone has a few favorite places to go in Summit. My favorite places engage the senses.
The Library. When I need to get away, I go no further than the second floor of the Summit Public Library where I can visit with my favorite authors and explore new ones. Rows and rows of stories, displayed for the taking. When I was a kid on Long Island, my mom took me to join the “Busy Bees Book Club” at our public library. I vividly remember arriving home from the library with a tall stack of books--I lined them up just so--and decided which to crack first. When my kids were younger and we brought piles of picture books home from the Summit library, the feeling returned. Granted, now I read my books electronically, but when I can’t get a book on Kindle, I head upstairs at the library and escape.
Twin Maples. Every time I go to the beautiful, historic mansion, I hear excitement in the air. I lead the monthly BIG meetings for entrepreneurial women; many attendees are just starting their businesses while others are busy working on plans to improve their current ones; they fill the room with a buzz that is contagious. This excitement is palpable as the women share the stories of their journeys.
The Church. I am Jewish, but once a year, on Christmas Eve, I attend mass with my family. I like the inclusive message the priest gives, knowing that his audience is filled with many more visitors than usual. I like to look at the beautifully dressed young children; but mostly I like to go for the singing of Silent Night at the end, when, if I close my eyes, I can still hear my mother-in-law’s voice--gone now almost seven years--singing in harmony with the rest of the worshippers.
The train. When you pick someone up from the Summit train station and they get in your car, you smell the train. The train has a unique smell that lingers on your clothing. I smell that smell and think of adventure. I travel into the city from Summit station for fun - -Broadway shows, dinner with friends, museum with family. But get that clothing into the wash soon, because I never said it was a good smell.
The gym. Underneath the sweet lingering smell of the Kiehls products they use at Equinox, there is the smell of persistence. I am in awe of those who work so hard to achieve their fitness goals. In my case, I felt so powerful when I finally got all of my toes off the ground in a yoga crow pose. If only for a millisecond. Sometimes, during savasana, the instructor will come around and push on my shoulders with lavender-spritzed hands. This is heaven. Relieves the tension buildup and smells great. Almost makes up for the hour of torture.
The pool. Crestview is our pool and it smells like summer. Although technically it sits on the New Providence border, half of its members hail from Summit. The years spent there with family and friends are etched in my mind, and I guess in my nose too. I remember when the kids were younger I would drop them off in the morning for swim lessons, and they would stay through tennis lessons and lunch and then pile back in the car with Coppertone and chlorine pool water on their skin and in their hair. Inhale deeply.
The Stores. So many amazing stores in Summit, but a few are at the top of my personal list for the attitude of the proprietor, and they way they touch the community. Sure, this is a play on the senses, but why not?. Walk into Sweet Nothings or Mondo or the UPS store or BeautyLounge, and you feel the support from strong empowered women -- Donna, Annette, Antoinette, and Illyne, the respective owners. Yes, these are great places to buy goodies and Summit notions and ship them, but more importantly, these small-business owners are the ultimate Summit cheerleaders. They are the first to raise money for an important cause, or to contribute to the one you are fundraising for. And they are fun to talk to when you stop by to say hi.
The Restaurants. Sure, my taste buds love the Summit Greek Grill, a no frills, solid, consistent venue, because the food is delicious. But with my usual Greek Grill tablemates, I taste possibilities and new friendship. Every month the women from BIG go there for what we call “the meeting after the meeting.” We exchange ideas, give suggestions, offer encouragement. Often, the diners have just met. Ditto the taste at La Pastaria. I have my birthday luncheon there every year, just before New Year’s when everyone is thinking about new opportunities. Our book group also comes here from time to time. Each month, we try to capture a taste of something that was mentioned in our books, so if it’s anything remotely Italian, it’s La Pastaria for us.
The School. Summit High School is a place where your senses can explode all at once. Summit High School has a pull that engages all the senses: watching the presentations about new curriculum initiatives (as I’m also the Board of Education reporter for this publication), hearing the crowd’s excitement when the football team plays at Friday Night Lights, smelling Mr. Chi’s hot dogs when leaving the building, tasting the samplings from the Culinary Arts Center, touching Katherine Winter’s beautiful costumes when the actors come into the lobby after a Poyner Production.
So go ahead -- take your own walk around Summit and see all the ways your senses can be stimulated. Go to Magic Fountain and taste. Go to a Dreamcatcher show and look. Step into Natale’s and smell. Paint a canvas at Color Me Mine and touch. Sign up for a workshop at The CoCo and listen. Then go come up with your own list. I’m sure it will be sensible.
Melanie Wilson teaches women entrepreneurs how to write better through a series of Business Writing Bootcamps. She runs a local chapter of Believe, Inspire, Grow (BIG) a women in business empowerment group, covers the education beat in Summit, NJ for TAPinto Summit and does the marketing for a local professional theatre company. She lives in Summit, NJ and is watching her children slowly leave the nest. This column will take a look at any and all of the above. You can reach her at email@example.com.