It takes a solid four minutes to walk from my house to the coffee shop where, this morning, there is a woman with matted hair, wearing many layers of clothes, who stood before me in line to order. We fixed our coffee next to each other – mine, an organic blend with a smoky finish, weighted down with sugar and complimented by a float of cream – and she said nothing, despite my pardons and politenesses. What does she think of my freshly showered body, the pouf of soapy scents that float around me? Is she envious, or scornful?
Not even a week on the North Coast, and I think such things.
On my sixth morning here, the day starts with a shining sun for the very first time. Normally gray and foggy, this feels like cause for celebration. The ocean is bright blue, outlined with the white foam of waves breaking, and I ran down to it this morning, soaking up the sound of water and birds, enjoying the fact that there were colors in the sky: blue, and pink, and orange.
Usually, the colors here are more vibrant on the ground. People have bountiful, magnificent gardens, full of dahlias and roses and plants I do not yet know. I’ve been told that it’s possible to grow just about anything here, with minimal effort. I have a hydrangea in my yard, the deep purple-blue that causes me to look twice, and fiery lantanas. I’d like to add more; a girlfriend inland is a natural, knowledgeable gardener, and a resource. There are many nurseries here, too, including one where a man I knew years ago still works, I believe.
I’m working to create my sense of home, in a house that still feels foreign and too big but which will not be either, I’m sure, in time. I still don’t have any real furniture; I echo when I talk in my generously-sized kitchen, which aches for a table, and chairs, and perhaps a rug. They’ll come. In the meantime, I unpack what I can, finding homes for the strange collection of items I brought with me, noticing along the way what I forgot.
Yesterday, I walked a few blocks to a farmer’s market full of local goodness. Local salmon, local strawberries, local breads, local oil made from local olives. I used my groceries for dinner, adding leftovers to my refrigerator full of local blueberries, local mustard, local beer, local wine, local sparkling wine, local greens, local milk. Local local local. It’s an abundant life.
Refills here in the coffee shop are free; I pour a cup of decaf, throw in an obscene amount of sugar, and drink it down. The sun is still shining. I have a four-minute walk ahead of me, and a day just waiting to unfold.