Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Behind the Glines Church

For years, Sweetie has had an afternoon ritual that we've all come to wonder about.  For a long time all we knew was that she went some where to eat lunch and read.  I think it began with a desire to get some sunshine to alleviate the encroachment of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  She had a lamp that would help deal with the long dark winter months, but nothing beats real sunshine.

Earlier this Summer when unemployment rendered me available during her lunch ritual, she graciously invited me to participate.  I had always assumed that another of her motivations for this practice was solitude.  Her midday practice began back when the house was rather full and chaotic.  I was humbled to be invited to participate in this private, personal realm into which I had never expected to peer.

Sweetie is a principal stock holder in McDonald's Corporation; or so I've always teased.  When she taught school, a swing through McDonald's drive-thru was the foundation of every work day.  I was always amazed that she could get her books and breakfast in the door, secured with a pass key, up the stairs, down the hall and through a locked classroom door, without ever setting anything down or spilling something.  She has always been more coordinated than I, but this was pure athletic grace!

Now, her ritual has migrated to lunch at McDonald's.  I don't like McDonald's all that much so I pack a lunch. I usually make a chicken, Gouda, spinach and pesto sandwich on whole wheat bread, accompanied by a few carrots and grapes or something.  I fancy it to be reminiscent of a sandwich I once had at a sidewalk cafe in Friday Harbor.  We grab our current novels and climb into the Yukon.  Its a little different than usual.  I always drive everywhere.  On our ll,080 mile trip to Newfoundland and back, I drove every mile.  But on these occasions Sweetie drives.  She likes the interaction with her friends at McDonald's and she likes to lean her book on the steering wheel.  This is an accommodation I'm completely comfortable with.  I've had to learn to keep my reading to myself and am not permitted to use either cup holder, but aside from those few parameters I'm completely welcome.

It is just a few blocks from our house to McDonald's which I've always considered a blessing.  We pull into the drive-thru and she begins her order.  "I'd like a Three Piece Chicken Selects meal, medium..."  At which point she is typically interrupted with a smiling voice continuing the order, "...with a Large Diet Coke, Apple Dippers instead of Fries and Sweet and Sour Sauce for the dip!  If your order is correct on the screen that will be $5.36 at the first window."  Giggles all around.  She has done this for so long she's become an institution.  They recognize the car and voice and since she never varies in her request it's just a foregone conclusion.  They treat her like she's the CEO, except they're not timid as they might be if their Big Kahuna showed up.  There's always a little chat with Melissa (a friend and former student) and some pleasantries with other familiar faces.  These people are like family.  She greets them every day and they count the passage of time by her daily smile.

As we head for the Glines Church I think of all the hours we've spent in this wonderful ride.  The Yukon has now carried us 101,325 glorious miles.  It has taken us as far as Victoria, BC in the Northwest, Cape Spear and L'Anse aux Meadows in the Northeast, and Dallas, Texas in the South.  Every glorious mile has been precious to us and each moment back in the car is reminiscent of those glorious journeys.  You know how biting into a crisp tart apple can return you to so many autumns and apple dunking contests, and Halloween pranks, and jars with caterpillars spinning cocoons, and new boxes or crayons, and jumping in piles of colored leaves?  That's what climbing into the Yukon does for us, only its, forest framed seascapes, and fresh blackberries, and audio books, and the hum of ferry propellers, and High Teas in splendid places that come to mind.

Behind the Glines Church on West Highway Forty are Green Ash trees that have been shading the parking lot since I was a boy.  The building shields the place from the hum of traffic and the grass beneath the trees lends a cool inviting air.  We don't get out of the car.  We just kick back for a quiet moment, leisurely eat or lunch and let our novels take us wherever they will.  Too poor to travel much these days, these are our daily mini-vacations.  I wouldn't trade them for all the world.  In a very real way they are giving us the world.

We are not the only ones who've made this discovery.  Not far from the hustle and bustle, this quiet retreat invites visitors every day.  We are seldom the only wayside occupants of this serene, convenient spot.  The guys who mow the church lawns, lunch here too.  Other's who've swung through the various nearby fast food joints stop here to eat before heading back to work or return to their day's journey.  Some get out and sit at the picnic table beneath a tree, most, like us, remain in the car.  Yesterday, Sweetie stopped to commiserate with another fellow reader, wanting to know what great book she was missing now.

The drive home affords time to share tidbits from the books we're reading; which we always delight in.  We share quotes and insights and learn together.

I used to wonder why Sweetie performed this ritual.  I couldn't see how sitting in the car could be better than just sitting home and reading.  Now, I get it.  It is a vacation.  Small and short though it may be, it is fresh and exciting every day!  I hope we never stop these priceless, rejuvenating moments together, except to go on those real, long vacations that stock the stores of our imaginations and fuel the batteries of these more constant and sustainable ones.


Booklogged said...

"...they count the passage of time by her daily smile." That's a bit of an exaggeration, don't you think?!

Candleman said...

Not at all. I've heard them wonder where you've been when you miss a day. I'm sure they look forward to your regular visits.

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