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My favourite "third place" by far is the back roads of the Cowichan Valley. Every Saturday for 15 years at 7am and always by foot, i.e. running. Nothing beats rounding the bend on Maple Bay road to catch the sunrise over Saltsping Island, or the end of a long climb on Jackson Rd to see the fields twinkle as the sun catches the dew. These are just a few places, other honorable mentions are Cherry Point road, Cowichan Valley trail, and Richards Trail. And at the end of every run is local coffee shop waiting with a hot coffee.
I never get tired of my local public library - or any public library, for that matter. When I am surrounded by books I go to my "happy place." Even browsing the library's online catalogue can take me there. All those books, and every one of them available to me!
My favourite third places are Victoria backyards. Why? Because there is always something interesting and surprising to see...Victoria backyards are full of randomness--lucious gardens, quirky landscaping, chickens, bees, orchards, garden art, bocce ball, potlucks, you name it!
Ahh, Third Places! I've known and loved so many! Tim Horton's was a haven when I used to drive all over Southern Ontario... in my first job search, I'd deliver a bunch of resumes, regroup and check maps at Tim Horton's and then move on to another area and deliver more resumes! Later, as my taste in coffee evolved, Second Cup and Starbucks became rivals, but I still have a special place in my heart for "medium-just cream" as opposed to "tall latte". Currently, my two favorite third places would be Moziro Coffee, in Shawnigan Lake and Cobble Hill Dog Park! There's a lot of regulars there - people who drop by and chat while their four-legged friends get some socializing, too!
My favourite third place is the garden. All of my worldly worries are brought into perspective. I can be completely present and find joy and peace in the most simple things--a new tiny leaf, the smell of fresh earth, the miracle of life in every form. When I am in the garden I am humbled by the intricacy and perfection of nature, and reminded of my place and purpose in this world.
My workshop is definitely my current favourite third place. Surrounded by tools that let me play with metal, lumber, twigs, rocks, concrete, I'm in complete right-brain heaven. Time stands still in a most delicious way when I am in my shop.
I always hold Starbucks up as a model of brand consistency because no matter where you travel, they are virtually identical. However, I recently saw the new Starbucks at Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. It is adjacent to the campus' historic Harvard Yard (pron. " Hahvad Yahd") and has been remodelled to look, feel and function more like a cozy collegiate library than the typical Starbucks. The noise and bustle of the barristas and to-go crowd all happens downstairs. Ascend a wide, wooden staircase end you enter a different world of oversized, rustic furnishings, big study tables, warm and homey lighting and even live music. People — largely students — are encouraged to stay for as long as they want. It's quite a departure from the Starbucks norm and a perfect adaptation to the environment!
A long standing 'third place' favourite that always feeds my soul is Gonzales Beach. My daughters and I spend hours relaxing and having fun exploring at this local beach through every season. It reminds me to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment.