Beat Pennsylvania winter by exploring Meadville streets

During the blistering Meadville winter, it’s easy to see why one could catch an awful case of cabin fever. Couple that with the small campus size, and the combined two options for dining out, and it becomes imperative to get out and stretch those legs. I took the liberty of journeying down the hill in search of new, interesting or noteworthy experiences that could be had. I took this liberty so you don’t have to — these are my experiences venturing around and offering a few places that are worth the walk down the hill.

I departed from my abode around noon. At this time, the temperature was a nice, crisp 25 degrees, with a fresh, wet blanket of snow. Warm clothing is essential to enjoy this journey during these desolate winter months.

The walk was not insubstantial, but not intolerable either — the same could not be said about the crosswalks. The buttons appear to have no direct effect on the crossing signs. I find myself standing on the corners, shivering, for what feels like more than 10 minutes, until my greater reasoning fails me, and I decide to make a dash for the other side of the road without the crosswalk bestowing its digital crossing privileges upon me. Once I arrived on Chestnut Street, I felt I had earned a cup of coffee.

As I approached the counter of French Creek Coffee and Tea Co., the bags of coffee beans caught my eye. Labeled on these brown paper bags are countries, regions and the elevation of which these mysterious beans had originated from. I made my selection: Peruvian coffee from the Chanchamayo region, grown at an altitude between 1,250 and 1,800 meters. The details provided on the bag made me envision the farm on which they were grown, reminding me of how pleasant warmer climates are for the soul. It felt as if the Peruvian farmers had personally handed me this delicious smelling bag of roasted pick-me-up. I purchased a bag of these beans, and a large cup of Rwandan coffee, which set me back about $7. All coffee sold in the store is roasted right here in Meadville, so this is a great opportunity to support a local business.

I had a seat and began to take a look around — tables, comfortable chairs, free coffee refills and various books, including a near-complete collection of the Harry Potter series. This is a wonderful place to study off-campus, settle in with a good book or a place to think and have a quality cup of joe. So if you could use some time away from campus after spending an inordinate number of hours in the Pelletier Library, Grounds For Change Coffee House or the Henderson Campus Center, this is a great retreat to a fresh environment. Also, various baked goods and egg bowls are sold and made in-house. French Creek Coffee is a wonderful hidden gem every student should check out at least once if they have any sort of interest in fresh-roasted coffee, or what I am certain is high quality tea. This location is on Chestnut Street, right across the street from the Chestnut Street Pub and Grill.

My next stop was a used bookstore called Tattered Corners, visible from French Creek Coffee. This quaint little bookstore has a very distinct aroma of books, a scent I find very soothing to the soul. Upon my entrance, I began to have a look around the seemingly countless books, all neatly filed by genre. This store has a wide range of genres — most interesting, perhaps, was the Historical Romantic Fiction section, flush with books that fit the description.

Since this is a used bookstore, anyone can take any old books here to receive in-store credit toward new books, as well as some textbooks. So instead of using your old textbooks as a footrest or a coffee table, you could bring them here and pick out some new ones to pass the time in these desolate winter months. Plus, all books are half off, so if budget book shopping is your niche, this store caters to you. In many instances, books are available cheaper here than a digital copy would be on a Kindle.

Once I wrapped up my browsing in Tattered Corners, an employee suggested I check out Indigo Boutique and Botanica next to Julian’s Bar and Grill. Indigo, I was told, specializes in incense, various crystals, teas, essential oils and herbs, all materials I had no prior knowledge of. So I suited up and was on my way.

Upon my arrival at Indigo, the smell of incense greeted me with open arms. As I browsed the numerous necklaces, crystals and incense sticks, I began to look around to the Apothecary section. At this time, the cashier, who I would later learn is the proprietor and sole employee, asked me what she could do for me. After explaining I was a journalist looking for fun and interesting locations around the Meadville area, she encouraged me to pick out a crystal. This — being totally new to me — was something not easily done without the proper guidance. She encouraged me to circle the table, touching nothing until I had made at least two rotations. After rotating clockwise, then counterclockwise, taking extreme care to look at all the gems each time, I decided on a small, round crystal I would later learn is the gemstone lapis lazuli. Once the cashier rang up my order, she told me about the ethical sourcing of minerals being behind the elevated pricing, meaning all crystals in store are ethically sourced, not procured with exploitive labor, a commodity only available for someone who has been in the trade long enough to build excellent business relations. She emphasized that her business’ highest priority was being non-discriminatory toward anyone of any religion or belief set that should enter, something I hear is rather uncommon in this trade, making it a truly welcoming and warm environment. So check out Indigo, and pick out a guilt-free crystal and some good vibes.

Finally, I headed toward the Downtown Mall — upon entering, I spotted a Military Surplus store. J. Amato & Son has been in business for over 30 years, and, as a result, has all kinds of interesting military memorabilia, as well as many practical purchases for college students, such as warm gloves, boots, jackets, hats and backpacks. Some of the memorabilia dates back to World War I and other eye-catching items, including a prop from Saving Private Ryan and a picture of the store’s co-owner with the cast of “The Sopranos” in Kuwait. If you are a proud, patriotic American like myself, visiting this store should absolutely be on your Meadville bucket list. I bought a large American Flag that now hangs in my room.

All of these locations were on Chestnut Street, with the exception of the military surplus store, which was not even 800 feet from the end of Chestnut Street. All of these strange and interesting experiences were had in one day of raw curiosity and exploration. My advice for you, if you have a seemingly unshakable case of the cabin fever, is to go out and explore. You never know who or what you might find.