Four potted raspberry vines stared accusingly at me, but I managed to ignore them as I made my way to the car. I needed a break. I needed to lay off the cooking, baking, cleaning, planting and harvesting and steal a few hours of walking, shopping, talking and laughing. So no ... I didn't feel the least bit guilty as I walked past those pots. The raspberries could wait.
Pike Place Market is a forty-minute drive from our little farm. I spent that time sipping a latte--even though I knew my friend, Sandra, and I would probably grap a cup as soon as we met up. And that's what we did. After no less than six phone calls back and forth ("Where did you say you're parking? Isn't that the place that charges $10 for two hours? ... I'm on Virgina and 2nd. Pike is south, right? ... No, I'm not near the pig. I'm on the north end of the cobblestones" ...) we found each other, hugged hello, and ducked into the first pastry shop we could find. How I wish I could enable a scratch 'n sniff button for you (as brilliantly suggested by Christie, while commenting on my last post). Try to imagine a room full of warm, just-from-the-oven bread ... and rolls ... and tarts ... and quiche ... and puff pastry. Add to that the aroma of French Roast and espresso, and the sounds of frothing milk and chatter and chairs scooching toward tables. Bliss.
Sandra ordered something twisted, glazed and nut-studded. As I'm not a "sweets in the morning" person, I ordered a Swiss-cheese encrusted square of puff pastry--a concoction so light, so tender, it shattered into flaky particles with every bite. I could have eaten twelve.
We asked for our coffee in real cups, not paper. Sandra took hers black, but I ordered my signature latte. And oh, how superior that latte was to my usual Starbucks cup. I feel deceitful even thinking such a thought, let alone writing it, but how can you not 'fess up to something so blatant? The froth was so thick, it coated the sides of my cup. Each movement of my wrist created a new pattern of cream and brown swirls. I suppose with very little effort at all I could devote this entire post to that one perfect latte, but there's so much more to tell.
Sandra and I met two summers ago when we both taught at the Oregon Christian Writers' Conference. We connected almost instantly, and furthered that connection when we both taught at the Seattle Pacific University's Writers' Recharge this past June. Because both our husbands are in the ministry and we both write (she's the author of 30 children's books), we never run out of things to discuss. With several months of catching up to do, you can imagine the animated scene at our table. We talked first about writing, and the projects we're each mulling over, and the difficulties of balancing family needs and contracted writing obligations. I told her I'm questioning whether I really want to write during this season of my life; she understood. We shared the happenings at my church and at her husband's retirement center, and discussed the particular bittersweet nature of being pastor's wives, and about our strong desire to model grace to the women we minister to. If you had gathered up our words at the end of that first hour, and squeezed the breath from the conversation and distilled the heart of those syllables into one essential drop, that drop would be Jesus. What is Jesus asking of us at this point in our lives? How can we give those who are watching us a clearer vision of His grace? How can we offer Him more of our hearts?
Had we parted after that first hour, it would have been enough for me. I would have had the gulp of fresh, courage-endowing air I'd come looking for. But we didn't part. We meandered through the market comparing the bouquets of statice and just-cut lovelies that adorned about every third booth, sampling glossy Chukar Cherry chocolates, listening to the street musicians, watching the fish handlers toss salmon back and forth and enjoying their jovial bellows. We ogled at people (a market meandering must. Years ago I passed a boy on the cobblestones who was holding and eating a snake--a real, honest to goodness snake) and ogled the jeweled mounds of fruits and vegetables. My first purchase was a pound of Brussels sprouts. Don't make that face at me. You'd have bought a pound, too, if only because of the clever display. Same-sized, bright green orbs sat in pencil-straight rows, and near the top, a green, lifelike-looking gecko sat perched and staring, with a thin slice of a Brussels sprout clenched between his teeth. A sign at his feet said, "Don't even think of disturbing this display." When I gave my order to the guy behind the counter, I admitted to a strong urge to run my hand through those green balls. The look he gave told me he thought that was really, really funny. To mend our relationships, I asked for three pounds of creamy gold Yukon potatoes, too.
Sandra bought a jar of sour cherry jam, a half pound of picked red onions, and five Southern-fried chicken pieces which she vowed to save for dinner. I selected an autumn bouquet of burgandy Zinnias, butter-yellow Lilies, orangey-red something or other, and golden Black-eyed Susans. On the way out, I picked up a warm sleeve of Epis (braided rolls), which balanced my arms nicely.
The time went too quickly, but we promised to find another day soon for more of the same. I felt refreshed as I drove home, and thankful. God is good. I'm thankful I live in a place where I can sit in public and talk about Jesus. I'm thankful He's filled my life with kind, loving people. And I'm grateful for the sweet moments of fellowship He arranges for me, just when I need them most. It's good to sojourn together with a kindred spirit--if only for awhile.
My companion and my friend ... What fellowship we had, what wonderful discussions as we walked together ... --Ps 55:13-14 (TLB)