Thursday, June 21, 2012

Uncle E

I'm usually the one to leave, to pack my bags and triple-check the windows and watch my feet grow tan and gnarled from so much exploring. So it was a great surprise (and relief) to learn that hosting a friend for a few days could still invoke those carefree, possibility-laden feelings of vacation.

M met Elizabeth a decade ago in LA. They became fast friends and have remained close even as the miles between them have multiplied. When I first met E, with her tatted-up arms and understated wit, I never could have imagined that she spoke fluent baby and loved browsing antique stores. But during her lovely five-day visit last week I realized that M's friend had truly become my friend too.

The best house guests are the ones who are happy to weave themselves into the tapestry of your life, demanding only that they help with the dishes. And so it was that the facets of our late spring life carried on--picking salad greens from our garden, taking turns holding the baby, venturing on evening walks to find wildflowers and lemons, bathing the baby--only with an infused sense of fun, E's laughter and spunk and curiosity.

On Saturday, trying to escape 102 degree weather here in the Santa Rosa Valley, we drove west to Occidental to score some of E's favorite apricot turnovers at the Union Hotel. As we tried to leave, my car's alarm (which I only recently became aware of) engaged in two rounds of panic-inducing bleating that left M and I frantically searching the manual. E stayed cool and took sleeping Mallory into the shade while we opened and closed the doors over and over again.

By the time we figured out how this vestigial alarm is triggered and managed to get reloaded in the car, we were desperate to get to the coast. Sweaty behind the wheel, M started up Coleman Valley Road. We heard a thump. "Probably a pine cone," M said, laying on the gas. A minute later we realized the thump was actually M's glasses case, which had popped open and deposited his prescription glasses on the pavement. His wallet was just sliding off the trunk when he stopped the car.

Much laughter ensued. Buoyed by our luck (the glasses were unbroken), we spent a couple of hours trolling a nearly-deserted beach, snacking on carrots and getting chased by waves. E gathered some sea debris that will find its way into one of her many artistic endeavors. Mallory quieted at the sound of crashing surf.

And then on Father's Day we did something we'd been wanting to do for three months, something that, out of all our friends, we could only imagine doing with E. In our fourth garden bed, nestled right next to the remains of my wedding bouquet, we buried my (defrosted) placenta. For months it sat in our freezer; now it's going to nourish our wildflowers. E, ever the dutiful photographer, got plenty of footage (I'll spare you). Afterwards, we ate M's delicious pizza and made cupcake frosting.

Saying good-bye is never easy. But we've got photos out the wazoo (mostly of Mallory) to remind us that summer is sweeter when Uncle E comes to town :)