If you’ve never lived in a rural community, you may be surprised to hear that everything you need can, literally, be found on one street in a town the size of Decorah, Iowa. I’m a retired guy, which may be part of the reason I so enjoy living and walking on Water Street, as the cadence and rhythm of the street and neighborhood match the pace of my day. I got up this morning, enjoyed a quick breakfast and walked three blocks to the Decorah Zen Center where I sat morning meditation. With a renewed perspective, on my way home, I noticed that the days were getting longer and brighter; this particular day was going to be great. I grabbed the morning paper hanging on our door and headed upstairs to join my wife Jan, who had yet to leave for work, to read the paper and note what was happening for the day. With an impeccable memory and attention to detail, she reminded me to pick up prescriptions at Donlon’s, our local pharmacy, a few blocks east of our home in downtown Decorah.
By this time, the Oneota Community Food Co-op was open and I was on to my next stop of the morning, grocery shopping while utilizing my Monday discount for seniors. As most trips to the Oneota Co-op may go, I stumbled into several acquaintances and enjoyed a myriad of conversations ranging from the recent news that Ragbrai will come through Decorah on none other than Nordic Fest weekend to the recent discovery of a new planet far beyond our solar system! As I said my goodbyes, I took a quick jaunt down the street back home to drop off the groceries and head down the block to Donlon’s for an additional item on our shopping list. Everywhere you walk on Water Street, you are bound to see a familiar face. My brief stop at Donlon’s turned into another lively conversation with their friendly staff, who also used to be our neighbors before we moved to our Water Street home.
At this point in the morning, I’m ready for a mid-morning pick-me-up cup of coffee, so I walked to Java John’s where I joined several friends who were discussing regional politics. I didn't stay with them long as I was having a good day so far. So, I continued across the street to Superior Wood Floors to check on an estimate we were seeking for an upcoming bathroom project we’re planning. After spending some time going over the details, and getting thorough customer service, I walked back home, but not without first stopping to say greet the ever-kind owner of Blue Heron Knittery, Sarah—from whom I also bought a dozen eggs (some things are not advertised!).
Once lunchtime rolled around, I walked across the street to Ede’s & The Angry Pickle Deli where I met a friend and had the best fish tacos anyone could buy. After a fantastic meal and great conversation, I walked to Decorah Bank & Trust to deposit a check and decided to swing into Amundson's Clothing to pick up a new purchase I had been thinking on for a few days.
As a retired guy, I was ready to settle into an afternoon nap after a morning full of errands. When I awoke a short while later, I remembered that I needed to pick up an item at Ace Hardware, another locally owned and run business just off of Water Street. From there, I wrapped up my day’s errands with a brief stop at the Decorah Public Library and then on to Eclips for a haircut. Friendly conversation accompanied me with each stop.
I finally headed home to join Jan in making dinner and enjoying a nice glass of wine, purchased at the Oneota Community Co-op. After dinner, we went to T-Bocks Upstairs to attend an event featuring local musicians for a local fundraising event. All in all, this was a good day of walking on Water Street.
While that didn’t all happen in one day, it certainly could have! And I didn’t mention that also within walking distance to my Water Street home is my attorney’s office, the Winneshiek County courthouse, many churches, the movie theater, post office, mechanic, and local bookstore! Downtown Decorah residents sure are lucky to be able to walk instead of drive for just about anything one could want to do. And along the way, you’re bound to chat with neighbors, friends, and business owners. Living and walking on Water Street is truly a unique neighborhood and lifestyle!