I. We sat yesterday morning in the shade-dappled garden and breakfasted on buttery croissants and jam—a seedy raspberry my aunt put into jars last summer, just picked from her berry vines. We slept in late as always on Sundays, then went out barefoot, tousled still, throwing on one of the threadbare cotton robes that falls mid-shin or my favorite soft yellow sweatshirt with its overlong sleeves rolled, taking coffee and books, Italian mugs and the cafetière to set with just-cut roses on the breakfast table.
II. Or so it should have been, and might have—if we weren’t both on diets, one against sugar (even in deliquescent light-filled ruby guise) and the other against butter and fat, like Jack Sprat and his wife; if the shade wasn’t gone, the trees all felled by those engaged in some blood feud against all hapless foreign-spirited creatures with leaf and bark; if we hadn’t been wakened by the goats next door as soon as it got light, or by an early rabid leaf-blower or weed-whacker or demolition crew on overtime, which left us riled and cross and as always lately unable to get back to sleep, to brace ourselves, restore ourselves for the onslaught of yet another week of thankless work. Coffee we had, all right, and books, and what was left of wishful thinking, wistful hopes, but all the rest was fiction (unskillfully self-published at that, not Henry James or Colette, Vladimir Nabokov or Eudora Welty). All “rust and stardust,” as Nabokov said.
III. The truth lies somewhere in between, or elsewhere. Shade there was, but not of trellised roses in an English garden with graceful old trees over the croquet lawn. My olive-dappled corner and the chunk of shade thrown by the house which he likes to sit in, a stretch of cracked concrete between and maybe a lizard or two. My breakfast was tamales, quirkily, no healthier than croissants but a treat of choice from time to time, remembering May Santa Fe mornings; and his, the usual cinnamon-scented oatmeal. The robes utterly real, the mug from Montreal, the coffee from a drip filter, the table and roses made up in this case though never impossible.
IV. Variations on the perfect Sunday morning. The New York Times at a café with notebook/ laptop writers everywhere and big lumbersome dogs. Moroccan eggs on Columbus up on Central Park West. Sourdough pancakes (shaped like Jefferson Airplanes, my father’s whimsey), drenched in crabapple syrup. Scones and friends on Canyon Road. A simple picnic by the creek with thermos, or just sitting one long-ago time across the purling water from a cabin with open windows and doors from which the Emperor Concerto spilled. Cazadero, deep summer. The church bells on Lake Como, heavy shutters thrown aside. Good solid Lutheran hymns, or murmuring from the Zendo under the pines. A sliver of a moon washed out from the pale, bluing sky.
image: French Country Cottage