One of my favorite things to do while spending time in a new town is to take a long, leisurely walk, meandering along city streets, delighting in discovering shops with intriguing names that gently coax passersby inside.
Pacific Grove, Calif., where I again spent some time this summer, is perfect for just such meandering.
In PG (with a population of just over 15,000 covering only 2.86 square miles) I found a pastiche of individually owned shops, many that were quaint, charming and unique.
Blessings Boutique, a co-op at 620 Lighthouse Ave. in the heart of downtown PG, captured my interest the first time I happened upon it last year. Attracted by the eclectic mix of inventory displayed outside the 3,000-square-foot shop, I've been a steady visitor during my two summer getaways here.
In fact, Blessings was one of my first stops upon arrival this summer. I have admired everything from antique jewelry to scarves (one of my personal weaknesses - and I succumbed) to Paris-themed placemats with an Old World look (ditto for the succumbing.)
But what I saw in the middle of the store that really got my attention was not for sale: a tall birdcage housing a family of white doves. The parents, Angel and Grace, were no doubt as thrilled as William and Kate when their offspring were born about a week before my arrival.
When I first saw the babies, they weren't much more than little fluff balls with closed eyes. By the time I came back for a peek about five days later, they had undergone a major growth spurt and were on their way to becoming the spitting image of mom and dad.
I wanted to find out more about Blessings' feathered friends; co-op owner Sherry Litchfield was happy to fill in the blanks.
One evening this past April Sherry was about to close up shop when she saw a white dove walking and even flying a little toward the entrance. She brought it in, put it in a small cage and later went out to buy a bigger one. Sherry immediately named the dove Angel: "It came on wings," she explained.
Sherry checked the newspaper and Craigslist to see if anyone claimed Angel, but no one did.
Coincidentally, three weeks later, a friend of Sherry's rescued a white dove on Grace Street, in the PG area. Grace seemed the perfect name. The friend brought Grace to Blessings and put it in the cage with Angel. No one had any idea of the birds' sex but they found out soon enough, when a woman working in the boutique exclaimed, "We have to close the privacy curtain - they're mating!"
The babies came a day apart, on June 17 and 18.
Sherry is very pleased about all the attention the birds have gotten, even helping to increase business. "A lot of men have come in to see the babies and actually did some shopping," she said.
Meanwhile, the shop held a name-the-babies random drawing on July 21; the winning names were Serenity and Joy. With such inspirational names and surrounded by love, the doves, will, I feel, grow up healthy and happy.
A word about approaching animals: Lou Rae Whitehead, director of animal care at the Tucson Wildlife Center, cautions against handling any wild animals. She adds, "When encountering a wild animal that appears in distress, contact a wildlife professional, such as TWC, which is open 24/7." They can be reached at 290-9453.
On StarNet: Read Barbara Russek's recent columns at azstarnet.com/barbararussek
E-mail Barbara Russek at Babette2@comcast.net