We forgot to check what time the bakery opened on Saturdays, and sat in the car for 10 minutes, waiting.
We could see them inside through the windows, rolling out dough, flour poufing into the air.
Just before the doors opened other cars slipped into parking spots; we found a line filling the tiny storefront just 30 seconds after they opened. And it was just 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning but the air smelled of bread and sweet syrup and everyone there was happy. You can’t smell baking bread and not be happy, I thought.
Two sticky buns and a mocha muffin were boxed up for us, and one orange Madeline because I wanted to try one (not as good as they look), and we ran back through the brisk morning air. I regretted the bread de campagne left on the shelf – round, thick crusted loaves dusted with flour over their golden tops.
Five minutes later we watched flecks of coffee oils float across the steaming liquid, cupped sticky fingers around the heavy pottery mugs, and watched the coffeeshop traffic ebb and flow.
A family came in – he recognized them as professors or teachers, seen grading papers there last week. This morning they brought a child; he wore the high-waisted and faded jeans of the 80’s, settled in one of the couches with his mug and his paper. She and the girl sat on the other couch, the child’s voice high in the quiet shop.
Students opened laptops and books at a nearby table, and chattered over them. Saturday morning studying, but not much study actually seemed to happen.
A couple walked in, sat near the game-and-book shelf across the room, talked about some group meeting they’d just left.
And we watched them come and watched them go while our coffee cooled enough to drink, ran through quizzes from the old, dog-eared Mensa book and laughed that we knew the history ones but not the art ones. And I saw him see me again from behind the fog of papers and theories and policies and statistics – saw the recognition form again in his eyes as minutes slipped past.
Two doves sat on a power line stretching between buildings; I watched the wind ruffle their feathers as they swayed with the cable.
And soon we were on our way again, he to his studies and me to the grocery store, to chores around the house before work that night.
But the sweetness of the sticky buns and the warmth of the coffee and the smile in his eyes lingered long; a good way to start another year of life, don’t you think?