Yesterday I was driving down Solano Avenue, a two-lane boulevard, the Main Street of Albany, California. Lined with prosperous specialty shops and restaurants of every description, it stretches in a straight line from the hills at the top to the ocean at the end. I was with two friends, fellow students of Kyudo, Japanese archery, on our way to have breakfast before class.
We had squeezed the car into a parking spot, and were walking toward our charming, French-style restaurant to have crepes for breakfast. The street was lined on both sides with cherry trees in full bloom. The deep pink color as far down the road as we could see, carried me into another realm. The town of Albany had invested in more than exotic food and shops. It had invested in something more important, as if to say, “The shops are nice, but here is the important thing– beauty.”