at the foot of the tree

Mary was clever. While angelic in appearance, she found conning me out of extra dessert or negotiating a later bedtime thrilling pursuits. She had a keen sense of humor, too. Her eyes sparkled as she persisted in bantering me all night long. I’d respond, much to her delight, with pursed lips and furrowed brow, folding my arms as I pretended to be deeply offended. When I played along and dished up a particularly funny comeback, she’d gasp for air and snort, while breaking into a giggling fit.

Some moms are given children who you can’t help but love instantly. And some moms are given children who are complicated and need a little more figuring out. In Mary, her mom was given…

square chocolate chip cookies

That’s the way she took to cooking everything. I loved standing on a chair so I could watch her scooping up heaps of soft, white flour using an old chipped cup. I don’t think she’d ever heard about spooning it into a measuring cup and leveling it off with a knife. Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten owed its goodness to a pinch of this and a little shake of that stirred together under a keen eye that could sense when things looked just right.

caution: driver singing

Caution: Driver Singing. I saw this bumper sticker a few weeks ago. It reminded me of a couple girls we watched while stuck in traffic on a hot California day.

Desperate for a reprieve from triple-digit temps, we were flying down the freeway to escape the heat. After sizzling past Dixon, Vacaville came and went like a flash in the rear view mirror. We scorched on through Fairfield and down the hill, chasing a siren song lifting from cool waters of a distant bay and fluttering inland upon the delta breeze.