With all the smoke from the wildfires up north, the screen door remains closed and Blondi feels like a prisoner in her own establishment. Thank goodness it hasn’t stopped customers from coming and going, or she’d go stir-crazy. At least this way, she’s busy, and that helps. Also, she’s noticed an unusual amount of spider activity on the outside of the café windows. Is this a usual thing when the air is filled with woodsmoke? At any rate, when the café is quiet, she sits in the window seat and watches a big ol’ arachnid swinging on its silken thread and wrapping up smaller insects, busy as can be.
Blondi would sometimes like to go back to those days of carefree — though it wasn’t recognized at the time — fun. The schoolkids, in for their end-of-year gatherings, all making so much of each moment; their urge to get together and just be together is all it takes. Even when they’re claiming to be bored, there is a certain je ne sais quoi about them. Life comes easy to them; maybe that’s it. They have few complaints, nothing to bellyache about. They don’t seem to worry too far ahead of the future. For them it’s all about this weekend. She remembers that; she was never a planner, herself.
Rueben insists he can hold down the café alone any time Blondi wants to duck out, so a hired hand for the summer isn’t really necessary. He’s right, of course; it can be done. On the other hand, local kids need to make a few bucks. It’s not as if there are a lot of jobs around here for them. So she is still thinking about this.
Sure they’ve already had their longest summer day, but now they’ve having their long summer nights … the best kind.
The high school kids have been asking if she needs help for the summer. Should she or shouldn’t she? Rueben would be here to supervise, and she could get out for a while every day, maybe even go down to the beach some afternoons. It’s tempting. It is so, so tempting.
Not the beach, so much as the freedom to get away at a whim. Costly? Yeah. Worth it? Yeah.
Okay, not quite, but it might as well be. Teachers are taking their classes on field trips and celebratory excursions. The little ones are looking forward to long summer days, riding their bikes around town. Or are they? It’s what Blondi did from sunup to sundown. Maybe things are different now.
One thing kids still do, just like she did: they pocket a few sugar lumps before they leave.
Blondi has developed a bit of a crush on Rueben. The platonic kind; he’s married.
He’s just so nice to have around! Never a harsh word or a complaint. Always a smile and a joke. Willing to do everything he’s asked and more. From cooking to clearing tables to shovelling snow to washing windows, he’s up for anything. You’d almost think it was his restaurant.
Every employer needs a person like this on staff, she thinks. And mostly she’s been lucky with the help she’s had. Most people are conscientious and do their jobs well; she’s only had to fire one, and she hated to do it.
The days when Rueben is coming to work are the days she has a little extra spring in her step.
Her suite on the second floor has a lovely view, but it’s what she sees from the top floor — her little sanctuary — that is the real treat.
Things are different now. The old buildings are gone, except for maybe the hotel/bar, a newer version built upon the same pattern as all rural hotels of yesteryear. But Blondi can see the glimmering blue of Sandy Lake from now till November and she takes every opportunity to do so. It’s what keeps her in such good shape, she thinks: running up and down the two flights of stairs several times a day, just to gaze out that window.