California waits for us to come back home like a dog when you leave for work in the morning. But we never come back. So she sits and waits, starves, goes thirsty. Maybe someday? Maybe. Maybe the dog dies waiting.
My skin and nose taste and smell the salty air; the familiar touch of a light sea breeze against my skin. It’s her again.
On the coast in Santa Barbara on a red brick patio with black iron railings. With Spanish tile side tables hosting a cheap glass of red wine. Ceramic lizards and vines crawl up the side of a white stucco and green-shuttered wall that, at some point, can see the ocean. It’s here where my mind begins to stray, when she senses my vulnerability and lures me into thinking what’s possible. What is life without risk. See? I’m rationalizing again.
To my left are the french doors leading into our hotel room cottage where my wife curls her hair and tries on high-heels. Every fifteen minutes she walks outside where I sit to ask how she looks. “Beautiful” I say. She smiles and walks back in.
To my right is a perfectly manicured stream of water with bubbling pipes and lights that turn on at night. A brick wall contains the stream, atop of which sit several dozen giant clay pots with plants I can’t pronounce. And behind them, a variety of palm trees barring grape-like fruits. Then there’s the sun. Oh, that sun- hanging in an always-cloudless sky, adding depth and light to the canopy of plants where it moves against waxy green leaves ever so slightly to the rhythm of the pacific breeze that marches inland towards the mountains. It feels like a bit of a dream honestly. To realize, every couple of years when we visit California, that we took every bit of it for granted. It’s true. And now she does her damnedest to turn us jealous. I would be lying if I said her attempts were ineffective.
The other night I was on a plane flying from Newark, New Jersey to Houston, Texas. The flight had actually been delayed several hours due to thunderstorms over the East coast. Once we were finally airborne, I glanced outside the passenger window and became fixated on the red navigation lights flashing from the wing. I peered closer, seeing as how the light illuminated, just for a brief second, the thousands of descending raindrops falling towards the earth. “What a journey they must have, from 25,000 feet” I thought to myself. “A 10 minute free-fall.”
…eventually they must land.
Perhaps atop a small Redbud tree in someone’s backyard. That’s where I noticed these particular drops anyway.
Days after my trip home, I had wandered outside and into the backyard to play fetch with Bonnie when the bright little water beads caught my eye. “Fascinating” I thought. With their odd elasticity, the droplets clung to tiny buds, leaves, and pine needles for dear life, refusing an inevitable fate of being absorbed by the soggy ground below.
From 25,000 feet they had recently fallen, and it was here they had landed; suspended freely above the earth in a perfect balance between gravity and the upward force of a delicate leaf. It was in this brief moment of time I started taking pictures- before the wind or more rain could disturb their fragile resting place. Before the tug of the Earth, with it’s grip on heavy water molecule that began a plight high up in the clouds, could force the droplet to finally fall.
Three days ago our good friends Travis and Rachael had their baby girl. She was a month premature, and was born at 4 lbs 4 oz, and only 18 inches long but she is doing great! Yesterday Melissa and I went to visit them at the hospital. Here are her first glamour shots…
Last Summer was miserably hot. I remember the weather guy saying Kansas City had 20 or more days with 100+ degree heat. It was also bone dry. No rain to give the parched earth any relief of the blazing sun.
Then, this past winter, three massive snow storms (in March) pounded the midwest, shutting the city down for days on end. Winter was bitter cold and simply refused to leave. Only until this past week did we see and feel the first signs of Spring. And oh how sweet it is!
Redbud and Bradford Pear trees, which I thought might have actually died from the harsh Summer have begun to bud leaves, unfurling from their tiny housing to soak in the Spring sun.
Even Melissa’s small herb garden, planted in a large pot on the deck, showed signs of life. We peeled off a top layer of dead leaves and sticks to reveal green sprouts of lemon thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, and oregano. Even in their infancy, the little shoots and tiny leaves smelled wonderfully of their distinct scents.
It will snow a few of times a year in Kansas City, but nothing like this. Last Thursday it snowed 12 inches. We couldn’t even make it out of the house for nearly two days.
Then, only four days later, another storm system moved in and dumped another foot. During this 2nd round, the heavy snow stuck to every tree limb and powerline, rendering them weak and useless. Our power went out, so we have set up camp at Mom and Dad’s a few miles down the road to stay warm. As hard as it is to shovel countless driveways and attempt to take the Jeep out to concur the cold frozen tundra, the snow-covered neighborhoods lend to us a fascinating beauty.
You step outside and the world is dampened and muted, a soft silence where the hustle and bustle has been forced to a screeching halt. As you walk out of the house and peer up through the white-covered trees, time and space seem suspended. As inconvenient and annoying as the snow storm is, I can’t help but smile. It is a rather breathtaking scene.
The pictures below are from our journeys over the last 5 days.
Melissa, on Thursday night (for Valentine’s Day), went to McGonigle’s Market down the street to get some fish. A family friend of ours is a chef and works at the market. He suggested some really fresh wild-caught salmon for the grill that had just arrived earlier in the day. Melissa also picked up a few pieces of cedar plank (as a gift for me!) to use. I had never done a cedar plank salmon before but it turned out great. We used salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh cilantro to go between the wood and the fish for extra flavor.
My favorite beer, for the moment, is Boulevard’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale. This bottle was delivered to me yesterday on a cold Christmas afternoon by my next door neighbor Sean and his wife Sarah.
The story goes (according to the 750 ml bottle) that Boulevard’s fermenter number seven had always been that one piece of equipment to act a bit “persnickety”- the black sheep of their cellar family. During a batch of experimental Belgian-style farmhouse ale, it would be this very vessel that produced one of Kansas City’s favorite Smokestack Series beers.
Naturally, to honor such a libation, I took a few pictures before drinking the bottle in celebration of another warm and blessed holiday season.