Monday, November 24, 2008

A Stop in Summerland

I can't be in the car another minute.

We pull off before Santa Barbara at the tiny town of Summerland. We stretch our legs along the blocks of antique stores and interior design firms. The purple and pink flowers nod in the sea breeze. I rub a pinch of rosemary between my fingers and release its refreshing fragrance.

I could stay at Cafe Luna for hours. We perch on tiny chairs under a gazebo of green vines. Flowers are everywhere and ochre and buff pottery soothes the eye. Tables scatter through a meandering yard around a converted wooden house.

When I order, the cashier explains to the cook in Spanish what a peanut butter sandwich is and how to make it. He toasts the bread, an unusual twist that delights the girls.

In the bathroom, my younger daughter loves the buttercup walls and seascape paintings. She gives me a hug and a kiss and apologizes for her complaining. I'm sorry, Mommy, and all is forgiven as we go out to our late lunch.

The whole time we eat, I'm aware of the fleeting nature of the moment. I feel the impression of the place sinking into my memory. I wonder if it will become only a memory, a place I visit only once in my entire life, or whether I'll be back.

Even if I go back, I can never go back. Life has taught me this. Each moment is only itself, and only once.

We drive away into a pink-orange-apricot-lilac sunset over the flat grey Pacific.

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