What did I do when faced with a white picket fence all torn asunder? Why, what any red-blooded American woman would do. I took myself out to lunch.
Tuesday morning, after I recovered from the frustration of watching and hearing my dear, old fence be smashed to bits by two cars colliding in the intersection outside our home and sliding right over the sidewalk and into it (so glad Noah had just finished walking the dog moments earlier!) – and from dealing with the police report and insurance details – I headed to Town House Books and Café in St. Charles.
Thank goodness no one was badly hurt.
It reminded me of my accident in March, when someone totaled my car after she skipped her stop sign. Yes, a visit to my favorite café was the perfect antidote to a morning filled with disconcerting events and memories.
It’s perfect because I can always count on them for great quiche and because it’s located in the perfect independent bookstore. And there was no way I would ignore the books, on this trip.
Escape is what I was after, and escape is what I found.
On the very first table I spotted “A Fine Romance” by Susan Branch.
It’s a travel journal of sorts that details one couple’s meeting, courtship and, 25 years later, their voyage to England aboard the Queen Mary II, and a delectable account of their several-weeks-long sojourn through the English countryside. This gorgeous diary-style book, which is filled with the author’s own sketches, even comes complete with a bound ribbon bookmark.
I was smitten.
I’m a big fan of patronizing the library (free reads!), but this book’s a keeper, meant to be savored and referenced for years to come, so I cast about in my addled brain for any excuse to buy it.
Yes! Christmas is coming. Mom. I’ll buy it for Mom. She’ll love it, I decided, so I made my purchase.
Did I want it gift-wrapped? I winced. Not quite yet, I thought, as I clutched it to my chest and walked through the quaint little building into the café, where I tucked myself into one of the last empty chairs.
I enjoyed a warm slice of their quiche of the day, apple and onion (pure joy on a plate!); a cup of cilantro and rice soup; and perused the endpapers of this equally delicious book.
Then, I read the first chapter. You know, just to make sure it’d be right for Mom. (Who am I kidding? By bedtime I’d already read more than a quarter of it. I was in love.)
Then I spied a couple sharing a piece of pie topped with cream. Yum. It was the cream I was after, so, short of asking for a dollop, which I’m not above doing (you should know that about me, by now), I decided, instead, to order a cup of hot chocolate to go with it.
I drank it all the way home as I spotted leaf piles dusted with freshly-fallen snow, which still waited for the snuffaluffagus truck to come by and suck them up.
I get a kick out of how much they resemble puffy snowbanks.
Yes, marveling at the marvelous is how I cope with the other stuff that befalls this mom’s life.
Indeed. I may have been headed home to face a still-splintered fence and a grab-bag of after-school possibilities laced with potential hormone-induced meltdowns – the kids’ and mine – but the sun shone in stunning fall fashion, and I’d found some things to smile about.
At bedtime I read Ms. Branch’s account of driving for the first time on the left side of the road, a madcap moment which she quotes Inspector Clouseau: “There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, and this is one of them.”
I laughed out loud and then turned out the light.
What a lovely way to end what began as a challenging day. Works for me.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at email@example.com.