In the late morning I built a sort of epic muffaletta. I left it on the butcher block, briefly, for Jam Guy to wrap up--he is better at wrapping things than I am. Five minutes later, Jam Guy walked in on Meimei perched on the edge of the butcher block, her tiny pink tongue tentatively pressed against a corner of mortadella.
Meimei safely shoo'ed away from our picnic pièce de résistance, Jam Guy wrapped it soundly and packed some of our dried plums, a couple of beers for me and a couple of Cokes for him in a cooler, which rested on top of the muffaletta on our drive up to Blind Beach.
The drive is a long, winding road through deep redwood forests, along the Russian River, past mountaintop pastures with sleepy-looking sheep watching our car. Today we pulled away from home in a drizzle and by the time we crossed the top of the mountain we were surrounded by a full-out storm, with horizontal gales of pelting rain and the world ending in a wall of mist twenty yards in any direction from our car. No sheep were out. Redwood branches slouched where they had been blown in the middle of the road and the live oaks stood like weird druids with trembling, dripping fingertips.
We pulled up to the beach and Jam Guy hopped out into the downpour and was immediately drenched. I let Toby out to pee, and watched the turning ocean in awe, and even water-loving Toby was ready to get back into the car after he'd done his thing. We decided to eat our picnic in the car. After two big slices of muffaletta each and candy-sweet dried plums for dessert, Toby and I hopped out of the car again to make sure he'd have enough leg stretching for such a long drive, since we didn't get to play fetch with him like we usually do at the beach, and because I wanted to check out those crazy roiling waves again and peer over boulders at the seagulls coasting with their improbable indifference on the flailing ocean. As soon as I stepped out with Toby, he trotted off to splash in a puddle and a gust of wind snatched a napkin out of my pocket. I went chasing after the napkin, and when I had snatched it and turned, I saw a thrilled Toby chasing after me with a big grin on his face. So Toby and I played tag in the tempest, running back and forth through the wet sand and gravel, splashing the hardest through the deepest puddles of saltwater spray and rain, grinning and squealing at each other with our two open mouths dripping with rain. I don't know which one of us had more fun, but Toby was ready to get back in the car a few seconds before I think I would have been.
Thanks to the waterproofness of my jacket and boots and the whole layering thing, I didn't realize how soggy I'd gotten till I was back in the car. My pants were literally dripping rain--but happily, my thermal long johns, which are designed for skiing or something, were pretty dry, so I rode the rest of the way home in those. On the way back Jam Guy stopped at a little saltwater taffy shack--I didn't want to go in because I was wearing, you know, long underwear--and came back with a bright sack of taffy, and we rode home littering the car with wax-paper wrappers and guessing about which flavors went with which colors and getting kind of sick from so much sugar.
What I am doing now is smelling the perfumey richness of a homemade macaroni and cheese and a sour cherry pie, both which are in the oven at this moment. Jam Guy, on his birthday, has insisted on making us dinner. That absolute prince among birthday celebrants has fixed us a couple of hot rum toddies to take the chill off while we wait for dinner. It is a good day.
(Happy birthday, honey!)