Is it the delightful spring weather?
The almost implausibly beautiful display of spring blossoms lining our streets? The sight of my own garden and orchard transformed by vibrant leaf and flower?
The welcome fact that I now write for the Whanganui Chronicle?
Whatever the cause, it's been unusually easy of late to look on the bright side — to see the glass half full, as it were.
Okay, we no longer have a cobbler. But oh, we have so much available in Whanganui that is useful or beautiful.
We're big enough to have almost everything one needs and small enough to be liveable and easily navigable.
I've been reflecting on all the businesses, organisations and activities that make life here good and workable.
Five years have passed since I became a homeowner (let's start with (#1) affordable housing) and I now have (#2) a full list of tradies I trust — electrician, plumber, painter, drainlayer, insulation installer, builder and appliance repairer.
Honourable mention goes to David Kehely, who told me over the phone what was wrong with my fridge and how to fix it myself.
I also have a choice of (#3) dependable mechanics, panelbeaters and specialists like auto-electricians — hurrah for AES for their detective work on the farm ute's electrics.
And the guys at Swartz Tyres have been so good to me and my vehicles for years, never laughing at me no matter how hapless I am.
When I broke the handle on my favourite gardening fork — a quality tool, older than me — I discovered the continued existence of (#4) old-school engineering workshops. The lovely chap at L J Calman Engineering fixed it in return for some home baking. What a "love Whanganui" moment that was.
We have a (#5) hospital that offers most of the services we need, plus we have the (#6) associated diagnostic services. There's seldom reason to leave town for blood tests or imaging.
There's also a range of (#7) allied health practitioners, such as osteopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.
I hold osteo Greg Bell in high regard — he's a dynamic, innovative practitioner who is bringing new techniques to town. This includes successfully treating TMJ, a painful jaw condition.
Podiatrist Rachel Mcdonald expertly relieved the discomfort in my feet last week and gave me some excellent advice about footwear.
I've been canvassing my mates as well as people I hardly know about their favourite businesses and services.
I'm not alone in appreciating all (#8) the small, local businesses making great products available at the River Traders Market, our (#9) outstanding op shops (and bargains at (#10) Murray's Emporium) or the terrific service offered at our (#11) Co-operative Bank branch.
(#12) Okoia Valley Milk has many fans, with raw milk available for pickup at the farm gate just eight kilometres from the city centre.
We're fortunate to have an (#13) independent bookstore still thriving. Paige's overflows with a fine selection of books and cards and is one of many locally owned shops that stock (#14) beautiful, quality items that make great presents. The museum's shop is another notable mention.
I miss Orange café (thanks for everything, Dave and team) but Cuban Belle has become my new favourite, serving the best decaf coffee in town.
We have (#15) lots of cafes as good as anything a big city can provide — other people in my unscientific poll name Mint and Mischief as their favourites and say the Mexican on offer here beats anything available in Wellington.
Wa Japanese Kitchen has everything going for it — great quality food, a location that reminds me of Melbourne's famous arcades, and truly lovely people at front of house.
An acquaintance delights in our (#16) choice of fabric shops and says Amanda at (#17) Garney Spooner Wool Shop goes the extra mile for customers.
An older friend valued the service offered by (#18) Top Draw Lingerie who happily order in the comfortable bras she likes.
Whanganui also benefits from having people with extensive and diverse knowledge and skills. No-one can prune fruit trees better than (#19) Murray Jones at TreeLife NZ. Just this week he tamed a rampant kiwifruit in Fordell that is reputedly the first vine imported into New Zealand.
I can personally vouch for (#20) Christine Harrex's skill as a massage therapist; others mentioned the wonderful creams and ointments she makes under her Herbal Touch label.
This list, of course, leaves out much, much more than it mentions. What are your 20 favourite businesses or services that
Rachel Rose is a Whanganui-based writer and organiser: www.facebook.com/rachelrose.writer