The other day, I slipped on my green jacket (the one my father always glances at sidelong before asking rather scornfully, “What sport are you playing?”) and throughout the day I kept sniffing at my wrist. The perfume still lingering at the cuffs of my green jacket reminded me that I last wore it a couple of weeks ago, while spending our first real sunny (in the SF Bay Area) day with my lovely friend A, whom I first mentioned here, back when we initially began hanging out regularly outside of school, and later again here.
It was a gorgeous day. A and I hung out in town in the morning, and really quickly hit up Andronico’s to see what all the fuss is about (is it as cool as Whole Foods? I don’t really know, since I do my grocery shopping at neither). On my way out, I took pictures of the sunflowers, because roses are damn overrated, and you can’t go wrong with pretty sunshine flowers.
We headed up to the town of Martinez to pick up my brother, who was returning by Amtrak from a weekend spent in Reno. He called just when we got there: “My train’s running late. Why don’t you guys just go ahead and get some lunch in Martinez, and I’ll give you a call when I get in?”
“Alright,” I said, but little had I realized that Martinez is one of those quintessential small towns with perhaps some sort of quaintness that locals find charming (and it contains the county courthouse and the Amtrak station!), but none of the attention-grabbing sort of appeal that out-of-towners would be looking for. At least, not this out-of-towner.
We drove around (and around some more) and could find no place suitably intriguing enough at which to eat. Finally, I parked and we wandered through the Main St., where I photographed a beautiful brick wall and we decided to just duck into a coffeeshop for some cold drinks while waiting for my brother.
“What’s the difference between French sodas and Italian sodas?” I asked, and learned that French are the ones that contain cream. Next up, trying to figure out what flavor to order. I squinted at the flavored syrup bottles, some of them hidden behind others, and asked the guy at the counter for clarification. He rattled off the flavors – all fifteen of them, counting on his fingers – while I continued standing uncertainly. My lack of decision-making skills is well-documented (here, for example, amongst other places).
The guy looked amused at my still-confused expression. “Should I repeat them?” he asked.
I shook my head and made a split-second decision, bypassing my usual cranberry-flavored obsession in favor of my latest try something new philosophy, and opted for peach. And it was damn good, is what.
The brother called while we were paying for our drinks, so we hightailed it down the street to pick him up from the Amtrak station. He threw his bags into my car and settled into the backseat with a weary sigh.
“How was Reno?” I asked.
“It was snowing,” he said shortly.
“Gross. Well, at least you picked a good day to be back in NorCal, buddy. It hasn’t been this sunny for a hella long time.”
“I know,” he said, looking more cheerful. “Maybe I’ll keep my mohawk after all. It was such a long winter, it seemed kind of pointless having a mohawk, since I had to wear a hat everywhere.”
[There was so much beautiful sunshine, I drove around with the sunroof open all day long, and it was hella rocking.]
We stopped for lunch, where I devoured pasta and french fries and the brother kindly let me eat his share of fries as well. (If he weren’t already related to me by default, this is the part where I would have decided we were friends for life.) He also scribbled his rendition of my signature on my credit card receipt while I was in the restroom, and nothing made me laugh quite so much as returning to find him nonchalantly presenting me with the forged signature when he handed me my own copy of the receipt.
I dropped the brother off at his place, and then A and I headed back to my town for dessert. We parked and took a shortcut through Macy’s, where I insisted, “Wait! I needa smell good!” A, being patient as usual, stopped while I quickly spritzed on the first thing that smelled yummy to my discriminating nose (turned out to be Miracle by Lancome). Weeks later, I can still catch the faded scent on my green jacket.
We stopped by Ghirardelli for ice cream sundaes, then walked down the street and ate them while sitting at the fountain. Too soon, I had to head home to help my mother with some gardening I had promised.
So, I traded my friend and the fountain for my mother and vegetable plots. Tomatoes and jalapenos and squash it was. I HATE squash. But the gardening wasn’t as horrible as I was expecting it to be. (I always expect gardening to be horrible, because I’m lazy and I hate physical exertion and I admit it.) I had to deal with too-large gloves falling off my small hands, until I impatiently tossed them aside and dug through the dirt with my bare hands. And I didn’t even scream like a girl (not that I’m wont to do so anyway) when I noticed the snail making its slow progress up the side of my rainbow-striped skirt. But I did make a face and brush the snail off with one of the previously-abandoned gloves.
“How’s my little gardener?” said the daddy-o affectionately when he returned home from work that evening. “Wasn’t it so much fun?” I resisted an impulse to roll my eyes. I could almost swear he was more proud of me gardening for an hour than he was of me graduating from college.
(Just kidding – he totally got all teary-eyed at my commencement ceremony last year; I have it on video, thanks to the sister.)
But I did enjoy getting out of the house, being outdoors, reveling in all the fresh air and higher temperatures after the nearly every single freakin’ day of rain drama we had had going on for a seemingly longer-than-usual winter. And I enjoyed the feeling of sunlight shining down and warming my back, of using the muscles God gave me to plant tomatoes that I can hopefully soon use in made-from-scratch guacamole (mmm, guacamole!), the feeling of ants bravely forging up my bare arms (so nice to have a private yard/garden with no fear of prying eyes).
Which brings to mind some beloved Wendell Berry poetry, with thanks to Baraka for her recent post that reminded me how much I like that man:
Finally will it not be enough,
after much living, after
much love, after much dying
of those you have loved,
to sit on the porch near sundown
with your eyes simply open,
watching the wind shape the clouds
into the shapes of clouds?