Any native knows that a parking chair is the chair you leave on the street to hold your parking space, especially in winter when you’ve dug your car out of the snow and would like to return it to that cleared rectangle.
In the late 1980s, a bunch of parking chairs were impounded in the borough of Dormont, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a photo of the impound lot, where residents could go, find and free theirs, for a fee. Earlier this year, a resident of Squirrel Hill got in a feud with his neighbors over his use of a parking chair. Apparently it is legal to use the chairs. It is also legal for others to move the chairs off the street.
A Parking Chair is one of several ‘Burgh-specific drinks at Anchor and Anvil. It’s “a creamy and slightly sweet cold drink with a healthy amount of espresso … tastes like melted espresso ice cream.” The Hard Hat is coffee and whole chocolate milk, cold or heated. The Smokestack Mocha—espresso, chocolate, smoked paprika salt and chipotle powder—”is all about keeping warm in the most frigid temps.” But the temps were hot when I learned about Anchor and Anvil, by word of mouth.
I moved to Pittsburgh two summers ago, and I walked a lot—to the business district up the street to the east, to the library around the corner, and up and down the residential streets, to see what I could see. A neighbor who spent mornings in his plastic chair in the shade of a large elm tree commented on it once when I was returning from a walk down our street to the west.
“How far did you go?” he asked. He walks, too, and he told me that when he goes that way, his turnaround point is the Ben Avon coffee shop. It’s half a mile, a nice three-mile round trip, he said. “With a loooong uphill on the way back,” I said.
My turnaround point had been about a quarter mile short. A few days later, I set out on foot with a book, notebook, pencil, ID and cash. That day, I chose an iced pomegranate tea. Since then, I’ve tried all of the green teas on the menu and many others, both with and without caffeine.
It’s probably my favorite of the coffee and tea places I’ve visited in Pittsburgh. They bake their own muffins and scones. The spinach and feta panini has gotten me through more than once when I needed a nosh. The building can be chilly in winter, but it rates high in the category of “good places to hang out and get work done.”
I’ve sat at the tables by the window (which offers a great view of the variety of dogs walking their people) and the tables by the wall, each with its own outlet. I’ve sat at the round counter with its retro avocado green swivel seats, and the living-room-like area in the middle of the room, with its ample sofa and chairs, and even the elevated area near a closed-up fireplace.
I’ve written and edited and met with clients there, attended an evening coffeehouse concert, borrowed books from the communal bookcase, and enjoyed overhearing the conversations of the wise older women in a knitting group that meets there.
What I have not yet done is been to Sconehenge, their annual all-the-scones-you-can-eat event during Britsburgh, a city-wide week-long celebration of British-American ties.
I recently stopped in on the way home from having my car inspected and my tires realigned. The planters flanking the door were spiffed up with Christmas greenery and gold bows. The portable chalkboard had an anchor and an anvil chalked in yellow and orange. A Hard Hat and the last gingerbread-Nutella scone provided fuel during some writing time. For an hour or so, I felt at home-away-from-home. And that purchase put me past the spend-$50-get-$5-free mark. How shall I spend it? On warm liquids for the first snow day, I think: soup and blood-orange tea.
Browse more in the Tea Quest series
How to Read a Poem uses images like the mouse, the hive, the switch (from the Billy Collins poem)—to guide readers into new ways of understanding poems. Anthology included.
“I require all our incoming poetry students—in the MFA I direct—to buy and read this book.”
—Jeanetta Calhoun Mish