is good food. Blondi knows you can go to the supermarket and find a wide array of food ingredients imported from around the world. Some of these imported ingredients taste like a reasonable facsimile of what they are called. But some don’t.
Case in point: Blondi doesn’t buy those rockhard nectarines anymore. They haven’t been given time to ripen, and if they do soften up, there’s no flavour to speak of. Her decision followed a recent trip to Seattle, USA. The Pike Street market was a flurry of sights and sounds. Her friend was late getting out of her pedicure appointment and Blondi kept circling back around the block while she was waiting. A boy passing out samples of nectarines kept on giving her another slice, until that paved the way to delicious peaches as big as a bowling ball, and one slice with enough flavour for a meal.
Why wasn’t Blondi having a pedicure with her friend? Being from Saskatchewan, being raised on the land, still a girl of her upbringing and roots, her feet were permanently dirty in the summertime from walking everywhere barefoot. Darned if she didn’t usually have a few of those sticky poplar tree sheddings stuck between her toes, along with burrs and squashed spiders. Not a farmer though, Blondi prefers growing flowers to working with more edible crops.
She salivated when she saw the flowers for sale at Pike Street Market. $5 for a bunch of sweet peas with their heavenly fragrance, six inches wide of stems. Every other kind of flower you can imagine. Can’t choose? Buy an armful, with enough money left for a pedicure–if she wanted one! If only she could take these back to the cafe so the regulars could enjoy them too.
(Guest writer Julie snuck in to write this fictional entry.)
✿⊱╮ Blondi thanks her lucky stars the café has no basement. Everyone around her is bailing theirs out. She’s had no extra mop time, herself.
Even so, she visits the old chiropractor who lives down by the lake. Her back has been giving her grief, and she knows the “bone cracker” can help.
He sends her out his door with, if not a skip in her step, a sense of relief. She is back on the path to physical comfort.
It’s a cleaning day.
Rainy weekends often are, anyway, but Blondi has hired a new girl, a high school girl, who wants to work Saturdays. And so this morning, instead of doing headstands in her second-floor suite or reading novels voraciously, Blondi is showing Beckster the ropes.
Beckster is 14 and wants to earn money over the summer so that she has something to spend besides time with her friends. It costs money to hang around town!
“Junk food?” Blondi asked her.
“Yep,” was the reply, with a grin.
So, although the café is usually closed on weekends, she’s there. Why not turn the “Open” sign out and put on a pot of coffee?
✿⊱╮ They are having a wake across the street this afternoon. With a live band. They are there setting up some equipment and have been in and out of the café a couple times this morning. The village caterers (all women) are delivering plates of squares and sandwiches, and readying the steel coffee pots to be plugged in. So, lots of activity in Sandy Lake today. And no dust. It rained yesterday and the air is still cool and moist.
Blondi sits at her window table and watches the comings and goings. Occasionally she can hear a flash of the band tuning up. They seem to be having some trouble, but it’s only the distance and walls between the café and the stage at the hall. Still the flashes of sound bring to mind the wind harps of war once used by coastal countries to strike the fear of hell’s demons into the hearts of marauders approaching by sea. The people constructed huge harps and set them up along the land’s edge so that the strings would be “played” by the wind and heard from aboard the ships. The unnerving sounds were otherworldly and ghastly growls and howls loud enough to come from a giant dragon … or frighten one off.
How terrible, she thinks, it must have been—to live in constant fear of attackers who would likely butcher you and your children and all your family.
Then she thinks, that’s not just ancient history. It’s happening now and has been happening all along. Why is it happening to them and not her? It can only be luck, she thinks, and can go no deeper.
She would like to fix it. No one should live in fear; no one should be hurt. Everyone should have a cosy café to sit and sip coffee in and look out the window.
✿⊱╮ One might expect Mondays to be the busiest day of the week. After all, everything wound down on Friday and has to be wound up again Monday.
But Monday has a different feel. There’s work to be done, yes, but when she’s refreshed at the beginning of each week, it all flows like a lazy river. The batch of whole wheat bread practically makes itself. The cookie dough is in no hurry but seems to scoop onto the baking sheets without her help. The soup goes together while she’s in a trance, hardly noticing the washing and chopping and sautéeing required. The main lunch course is spectacular without demanding extra effort. She keeps up with the dishes. She’s doing the work, but she might as well have twitched her nose like the bewitched; suddenly it’s all done.
✿⊱╮ The best part of the week: café closed for the next two days, Blondi on the balcony, cold beer in hand, boots, warm housecoat over pyjamas, gazing off with a lazy turn of her head toward the shining lake to the south. She gives a deep, satisfied sigh; life is good, and weekends are even better.
✿⊱╮ How many times have I said I wouldn’t do this and here I am, doing it again. She shakes her head and pushes the side door open, a tray of wieners in her hands, and steps onto the the deck. It’s the spring ritual – first wiener roast of the season, on the first day the sun is warm enough and the wind permits. And so those gathered stand loosely around the fire pit and clustered in striped lawnchairs, wiener sticks in hand, greeting her with a grin. There are no mosquitoes to swat yet; it’s a beautiful evening; beers are in hand, and everyone is in a good mood. Even Blondi, curmudgeonly as she can be, is happy to see them all and to be outdoors when the sky doesn’t darken before nine.