Since moving to Brooks, AB just over a year ago (seems like yesterday!) one thing I’ve really enjoyed has been discovering what makes this place cool. At first it seemed very uncool to me for a few reasons: it’s in the middle of the prairies with no bodies of water and no trees, there are very limited places to hang out, there’s virtually no live music.
But as I’ve spent time in this city, I’ve really come to appreciate it. There may not be much in the way of cultural infrastructure like in a city such as Calgary, but because of that, there’s potential for really anything to happen. It’s the perfect environment for a couple of dreamers to settle into. And so, we’ve planted ourselves and have discovered a lot of things that make Brooks an awesome place. There’s still a lack of trees, and not a day goes by that I wish I was closer to the mountains, but hey, you can’t win them all.
So, here are some of my favourite things about Brooks, in no particular order.
1. The Steaming Cup is the only local coffee shop in Brooks with the only other competitors being two Tim Hortons, a Safeway Starbucks, and the Red Basket gas station with its signature “Riggers Blend” (aka thick, syrupy liquid). The Steaming Cup is everything you need in a local coffee shop: they have great coffee and tea, lots of yummy treats, and the staff are super friendly. This is where we started hosting our monthly Open Mic event, and since it’s only two blocks from our house, Zoltan and I will often walk over for a little coffee break date.
2. Brooks’ Public Library is nestled among some of the only trees in town (more on that later) and has a great selection of books. It’s part of a regional library system, so if they don’t have a book, it’s likely that another library in the system does and you can easily access it. They also have a growing list of ebooks which is great for travellers like myself. One thing I love about our library is that pretty much every time I go, it’s full of people reading, browsing or studying. It’s great to see the appreciation that the community has for such an invaluable institution. And since it’s also only a few blocks from our house, I quite enjoy taking a walk and browsing titles. I love a good story, but lately I’ve been trying to branch out from just reading fiction, so I borrowed a few books of poetry and I’ve become quite inspired!
3. The Park With the Trees. There must be an official name for this park, but I don’t know of it, so I refer to it simply as, “The Park With the Trees.” As I mentioned before, it surrounds the library and contains the oldest trees in Brooks, and a really nice paved pathway that winds through a few groves of poplar, birch, and pine. Sometimes in the summer you can find little patches of colourful flowers (some might call them weeds) and leafy undergrowth. It’s the closest thing to the forests of the mountains that I have in this town and it’s one of the few places I can go to truly escape and be still. The park has a few wide open grassy areas, and we have dreams of someday hosting a summer music festival, but for now it’s my little wilderness getaway.
4. If you know me well, you will know that I love thrifting. I love the adventure of not knowing what treasures you might find, and the satisfaction of finding something unique. Brooks has a few thrift stores, and unfortunately most of them are closed on the weekend, but on our little adventure we went to Second Time Around, a used store that mostly sells furniture and housewares, where we recently scored a dresser for $10 and an amp and speaker set for our record player for $20.
5. Across the street from Second Time Around is Brooks’ only antique store, The Trading Post. We come in often to chat with the owner, Loren, and look at all the antiques. He has a wide range of vintage artifacts and collectibles from Pyrex dishes to sports figurines to furniture to records. On this particular day we found a basket of vintage pins. Zoltan has been collecting old pins since we found a bag full at Salvation Army last year and whenever we go to thrift/antique stores we keep an eye out for them. Our best find so far at The Trading Post was an Omnichord we found a few months ago. It’s a digital autoharp from the eighties and has some really funky sounds.
6. The last stop on our day of local adventures was none other than our local grocery store, No Frills. It’s not that special, really, but we enjoy getting our groceries there and chatting with the cashiers about how we made the butter display spell “Hi!” or how we’re sad that all they’re replacing the cardboard egg cartons with styrofoam ones. It’s the little things.
But enough about Brooks, I want to hear from you! I’ve come up with a little challenge: I want to see what you love about your city. I want you to take a picture of something you love about where you live and post it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #getlocalwithlauren. It could be a local business, park, event, or anything really. Get creative, go on an adventure, bring your friends! Next week I’ll share some of your photos on the blog, and hopefully we can inspire each other to discover a little more about where we live!
Until next time,
P.S. All photos were taken by my talented husband, Zoltan.