OrdinaryTimes 1.09-Friday

Fridays during OrdinaryTimes, I drive The Muse to work. It’s less convenient for me to drive her downtown than it is for her to hop the Metro, but I do my larder stocking on Friday mornings, so I’m heading that direction anyway. She agrees to be chauffeured. We chat as I take our secret passage off the hill into town. She’d usually rather stick with me than hop out when I pull into the No Parking Zone across from the building that holds her office. By Friday, she’s fed up with the mindless bureaucracy. I’d rather she could tag along, too. She’s fed up and I’m fixing to stock up the feed.

With the sequester’s forced layoffs, Friday traffic feels Saturday light. We make the passage in just under a half hour. After The Muse reluctantly departs, I wheel into the on-ramp beneath L’Enfant Plaza and onto the 395. I cross the Potomac into Virginia and exit onto the George Washington Parkway, a narrow four lane wending through the floodplain where black SUVs weave through traffic like Richard Petty’s driving, beneath the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery. The signage directs me to the left lane, then the right, then back to the left again before I emerge onto US 50 heading West between Fort Myers and the Beltway Bandit hideout of Roslyn, and take the first exit, cutting an immediate right then left to climb the hill up to Wilson Blvd, where I turn left and continue my climb up into Courthouse and Clarendon.

I’d noticed that The Muse was almost out of coffee, and though she’d advised me to avoid Wilson this morning due to an accident-induced traffic snarl, I took the chance and found the road almost deserted. Our favorite source for coffee sits just off Wilson. I found a parking spot right in front, plugged a 12 minute quarter into the meter, and slipped inside, hoping their coffee grinder could process two pounds of The Muse’s favorite Mexican in that time. They made it.

I backed into the lot behind the tire store next door and regained Wilson, heading west again for a long block, turning into the best Whole Foods store I’ve ever visited. I like shopping here. It was the local WF when we first entered exile, so I have some history there. Further, it seems to have genuinely interesting stuff that other WFs don’t ever seem to stock. It’s crowded this morning, probably sequestered Federal employees, and I can barely make my way through the produce section. I park next to the mushrooms before heading off to find a bag to put my Crimini into, and a guy parks his cart in front of the display while I’m away. I return with a bag and he looks up at me, before starting to pick through the shetakis like an undertaker might form a slight smile on some dearly departed, accumulating a small handful. Then he starts looking around for a bag to hold them. “Here, take this one,” I offer. He accepts it without comment or recognition, then heads off to further encumber my passage through the department.

I stumble upon some really fine fava beans while a young mother conspires with a spacy aging hipster to block my access. I wait, marveling at the tunnel vision both demonstrate, and hear myself apologizing for being there. I really feel sorry. I grab some reasonably priced limes and leeks before high-tailing toward the wine department.

This WF has a really decent wine section, and while I’d never think of buying their top shelf stuff, they tend to have some wildly under-priced sale wines on the bottom shelves, if I’m careful. I found a fine Alsatian Pinot Gris worth about twice the asking price and a charmingly cheap primitive Portuguese red. I packed my own reusable bag at checkout.

The humidity slapped my face as I exited into the cramped parking lot, heading for the BIG Harris Teeter in Ballston. As I enter there, an older man exiting the place looks me in the eye and asks, “It this your weather we’ve got here?” His tone indicts me and I reply that I’m sure it’s not mine. The humidity slaps me on the back as I enter. Not much to buy here, though we’ve got company coming tomorrow, and I’m trolling for what I remember might be his preferences. I find some fresh rabe and replenish the romaine, and add a few more sweet onions to the stockpile. The lemons are pricy, but necessary. Only two. Parchment paper in a store brand. The Muse will not be amused. What beer does our guest drink? Oh, yea. And they have that, too.

I weave my way back past the back of the Pentagon next, another secret passage, and slip through moderate traffic back across the Potomac and into The District. Eastern Market is starting to fill up. It’s eleven and the crowding tourists eat blueberry pancakes and ogle the pig parts in the butcher’s cases. I buy a chicken from my poultry guy, fresh pasta and mozzarella from the Japanese place that sells Italian stuff, and meat from my favorite butcher. He’s not resolved his air conditioning troubles at home yet and his compensating fan gave out at three this morning. He shrugs his shoulders. What can ya do? Nothing interesting at the fish market.

The heat seems near the boiling point as I head for the last stop on my way back home. I was supposed to catch up with a friend on the phone this morning, and I’m running later than I expected. Quick stop for a loaf of sliced rustic Italian bread and two bucks worth of smoked pork jowl. Do not ask. Then home.

I love putting the stuff away on Fridays, reorganizing the refrigerator and the bowls of fresh fruit and veg on the sideboard. Everything fits, and I marvel at how little I’ve managed to drag back to the cave for my three hour tour. Tomorrow, The Muse and I will visit the weekend farmers’ market and the DC fish market to round out our stock before our friend arrives.

That’s a typical Friday morning for me, here in exile. Each stop a learned response to the destitution that greeted us when we first landed here four and a third years ago. I’ve visited way too many places not worth a second stop and still mourn the places gentrification chased away. My rounds now are informed by all those wrong turns and innocent failed attempts. I can even envision the route between one stop and the next, and even re-route myself around many of the roadblocks I encounter.

On Friday, I am an unrecognized master of our larder. The small discoveries I make this morning will reverberate throughout the coming week. The time I invest on this morning repays with considerable dividends. Friday night supper’s usually special. Saturday and Sunday, too. The Muse appreciates without really understanding.

Whatever water we’re called to carry feels heavy on Friday.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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