APerfectDay

APerfectDay


"APerfectDay, the memory of which will likely never, ever go away."

I awaken before four feeling perfectly rested just before the alarm breaks silence. I clean myself up for the day before sitting to consider just what sort of day it might become. I decide upon APerfectDay, one for which the memory will likely never go away. We plan upon driving up and over Lolo Pass, as fine a piece of road as exists anywhere, two hundred plus miles of two lane Federal highway alongside the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers. It will be the last day of this year's August, hot, dry, and windless, and we will sleep many miles east of where I'm just then waking up. I grab my knapsack and head out just before five, looking to refuel The Schooner, find a block of ice to keep cold through the long driving days between here and Genesee our ZipLock® quarts of frozen wild black currents we'd picked when we passed through the weekend before. I easily find both before heading for the old Main Street Starbucks and the front window table where I've written dozens of stories over the years. The counter clerk already knows what I'm going to order, the same thing I always order, a large (I will not say, "Venti" for anybody) decaf in a china cup. She surprises me by not asking me if it's okay if she has to give me a pour-over. Maybe they've brewed ahead in anticipation of my arrival. Perfect!

I write, by which I mean to say that words come to me, a prose poem to the end of harvest.
The annual fair parade will promenade down Main Street in a few hours. A cop sticks his head in the front door asking who belongs to the Subaru. I confess, learning that there were signs saying not to park on Main after six am so crews could prepare the street for the festivities. It must be after six already. He gives me ten more minutes and I quickly finish the next to final edit before loading the result out to PureSchmaltz. I'll have to write the introduction when I return to the house.

The sun's up by the time I return to the place and take up residence on the back deck. Already nearly seventy degrees, the sun seems to know that I'm soaking up my final few minutes in this space I so deeply love, and it generously warms my shoulders as I finish composing my introduction and reediting the piece twice more. Fifteen people have already seen the result before I finish loading my final cut. I find the peaches we purchased at a roadside stand outside Yakima and delight to find a half pint of fresh heavy cream still leftover from last week's passing through supper. I eat two bowls of peaches and cream as if inducing myself into a dream come true. I bump into TheGrandOtter in the kitchen.

The Muse wants to lounge around on the deck before leaving, and I uncharacteristically decline to chide her forward. I'm in no hurry to leave, either. I clean car windows, fill water bottles, and putter around the yard pulling a few weeds. I pack my bags and load them into The Schooner before sitting on the front porch and playing my old guitar, struggling with a bandaged index finger which still wants to open up every time I use it. One string just will not resonate thanks to that bandage, but I three times play through that song about how we'll someday settle back into our garden and never see that city again while sitting in that very garden. We're getting really close to returning now, and my heart sings loud and reassured.

The Muse finally appears, bags in hand, and we settle into our usual front seat roles. I'm driving and she's navigating. We're hopeful bordering on certain that we will, indeed, be permanently returning here sooner. We leave with none of our usual regrets. The Muse remembers fifty miles out that she'd not found coffee yet, so we stop in this perfect little small town bakery that even smells like a bakery. The zoot up and then down into the Snake River Valley flows effortlessly. Traffic seems extraordinarily light for a holiday weekend. I of course get lost-ish passing through Lewiston, our route under serious reconstruction. The Google Map and the signs don't agree, so we get the opportunity to see some of Lewiston's surprisingly threadbare side streets as we reroute twice before crossing the Clearwater to begin our warmly-anticipated drive North and East.

A truck pulling a horse trailer pulls out just ahead of me as we enter the two lane, but that driver wants to move at about the same speed as I want to move, so I happily slide in behind him. I rely upon such drivers when I'm on two-lane, the ones I can comfortably follow for dozens of miles. I slow down a little to encourage any pushy drivers to pass me. The passing game seems like a moving, eternal round of Rearrange The Deck Chairs, the primary purpose of which, on a two-lane, seems to be to decide who rides who's ass for the following miles. Nothing's ever gained. I'm in no hurry to get anywhere today. Though we set a stretch goal of making Livingston, we could just as easily and happily stay in Butte. The following five hours seemed like a dream while we experienced it. The thing about LoLo Pass has always been that it's an utterly timeless drive. I remember stopping for lunch at Kamiah where we found a car show, genuine crowds, and another bakery, this one serving lunch; huckleberry pie for dessert. I also remember stopping and soaking our feet in a sun-warmed river, an excuse to stretch the driver's seizing back before the final push to the top. As we passed over the top of the pass, I remarked that the prior five plus hours seemed to last about five minutes. The Muse heartily agreed.

The final couple of hours we spend on wide open interstate, cruising at a cool eighty through a windless, increasingly shadow-filled landscape, having decided that Butte would be the day's destination. The Nats were trouncing Miami, Strasberg pitching a shutout with fourteen strike-outs. Even the often hapless Nats reliever retired the side with three strikeouts, ending the game as we pulled into our hotel's parking lot. Perfect! The Muse had found a black warehouse of a steakhouse in the old downtown historic district, boldly insisting that our so-far perfect day could only end perfectly if some prime rib remained for her supper. The place was clearing out as we arrived and the prime rib was already gone, but her small filet perfectly satisfied her. My strip steak was a symphony of gristle, but I refused to let a vigorous chew come between me and the end of APerfectDay, the memory of which will likely never, ever go away.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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