Delights: August 20 to August 26

August 20: There at the pond, by trick of angle and obstruction, I see more of the old bayberry’s reflection than I do of the shrub itself. In that reflection, I see myself: weathered, bright and sturdy. Also soft, moving and whole.

Fittingly, I couldn’t capture a photo of the bayberry reflection. These seed pods honoring their own reflection seemed nice instead.

August 21: A solitary leaf crunches beneath my feet and I catch wisps of wood smoke; a slowing part of me turns to autumn. And then I read this delightful sentence in the food-and-flowers suffused musings of Kiwis and Thistles, a New Zealand blogger: “As we reach the middle of August, there are clear signs of spring out there.” Yes. This reminds me that autumn is lovely — and that I still have lots more summer to savor.

August 22: In an old newspaper, I stumbled upon an illustrated, beautifully written appreciation of six Titian paintings assembled — for the first time in centuries — at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. This called to mind another time I stumbled into surprising beauty. You can read it here.

Rooftop view from our apartment in Venice (1988)

August 23: Huddled in practically every tee shirt we had brought along, my sister and I once spent a pleasant summer afternoon in San Francisco. Near Ghirardelli Square, we spied a street vendor offering various delectables. My eyes were drawn to the highlights painted in cursive along the cart’s front. This was my first visit to San Francisco, and I decided to go for it. Pointing to the big-print menu, I said “I’ll take the coffee lemonade, please.” The vendor rolled his eyes. “Lady, it’s coffee or lemonade, not both.”

Thirty-five years later, I walked with my friend Wendy to a local coffee shop. Again impelled by weather (this time hot and humid), I approached the barista seeking relief. And there, third offering from the bottom, I saw “Lemon Espresso Soda.” No way. Five minutes later we sat in the shade, heat and humidity cascading off of us, and I sipped an icy and improbable memory.

In a random scroll through my photos I found this. It’s not from the San Francisco pushcart or this week’s Rare Bird coffee shop. I don’t know how I got this image, but apparently it’s a popular idea — ??

August 24: Life Lesson #182: If you’re sautéing spinach to put on top of cheese pizza with jalapeños, and you decide to add a shake of crushed red pepper, and the crushed red pepper descends onto the spinach like an avalanche, make fresh spinach. You are not wasting spinach; you are saving your mouth, nostrils, about a pint of milk and four bites of Retirement Cake. (Although maybe the “cure” was worth the burn.)

August 25: Jeremiah welcomed friends from out of town, and they kindly included me in their adventures. We walked through the woods to our local bookstore (Jeremiah hand-sold a few books even though he wasn’t working that day). We gaped at the heavy storm clouds usurping the sun. And then we enjoyed a few rain-free moments under a silken canopy while we awaited take-out from our favorite Japanese restaurant. At home, we scattered our tempura, tonkatsu, sushi and donburi across the kitchen counter and dug in, standing, until Jeremiah cued our movie: Tampopo (1985), a wonderful Japanese “ramen Western” that celebrates — in the course of a great Food Quest and a half-dozen vignettes — unique gifts in the hands of improbable friends. I see now that it was the perfect ending for our day.

Cinematic lighting as we awaited our food.

August 26: I rarely walk as the afternoon wanes, but today I did. I saw a man on a park bench gazing up at the trees — guys playing basketball and kids cooling off in the stream — three trash bags masquerading as enormous pumpkins and compost bins pretending to be mushrooms — and the probing eye of a buck wondering why I’d wandered into his dinner. And over the song of the creek I heard the reedy prayer of a lone bagpipe offering a benediction to the night.

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Billowing crepe myrtles, in honor of my sister-in-law Karolina, who gaped in wonder at their commonplace profusion.

23 thoughts on “Delights: August 20 to August 26

  1. Another week packed with keen observation, poignant reflections, vivid reminisces. I savour each day as I re-read you week. Big sigh of satisfaction.

    I am particularly drawn to Aug 24 – how many times have I done that and then tried to salvage that spinach. I should have come across this life lesson #182 sooner and perhaps I would have spared myself numerous agonies!


    1. Dear Ju-Lyn — Your encouragement inspires and uplifts me. Big sigh of gratitude. Thank you. And I’m glad you appreciated Life Lesson #182. Crazy, right? And the worst thing is that I’m likely to do it again next time. “I’m sure I can just blow off the worst piles…” Glad to share it with you!


      1. Ditto for me … maybe we are just both loathe to waste food!

        Liked by 1 person

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