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THE BEST LAID PLANS


You can plan all you like, but you can’t plan on the weather. We had set aside yesterday for a picnic in Alameda with friends. The weather had simmered away in the 80’s and 90’s for a number of weeks, keeping us cooking and cooking our heels at home.

Yesterday the smell of petrichlor filled the air and heralded the imminent arrival of the first raindrops, ready to wash the summer dust off the leaves and give sustenance to a thirsty soil.

Brave souls as we are, we decided to wing it and go on our picnic anyway. Stopping at a favorite place for lattes first, we sat inside watching the rain charging down the estuary on pattering feet. Two gentlemen of a certain age sat nearby wearing short-sleeved summer shirts and shorts, obviously visitors on vacation, while I at least, sensibly dressed in wool turtlenect sweater and raingear. The cold sandwiches waiting in our picnic basket didn’t seem too inviting as opposed to a bowl of hot soup at that point.

The estuary is where so many wonderful crew races have taken place through the years, and the Cal boathouse is just across the channel from where we sit watching and hoping that either Cal or the University of Washington win. It is sometimes troubling to be torn between rooting for one or the other. It was not a day for racing.

Alameda is my hometown and though we fight the traffic now when going there, it is lovely to drive down its peaceful tree lined streets, and revisit familiar and much loved old homes and other spots where my life became interesting. The beaches are deserted in the rain, but with the recent warm weather, they were frequently filled with families enjoying the water to cool off.

crane

The rain let up a little and we arrived at our picnic spot near the Bay with all of San Francisco at our feet. Several juvenile egrets joined us, though they are not hungry beggars like the gulls, who are absent when it rains. They came close, but not too close, and pulled a few worms from the grass for their lunch while we chomped our cold sandwiches quickly before the next rain fell. It was, after all, a satisfying day.

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22 comments on “THE BEST LAID PLANS

  1. Raining here too, Kayti, but I don’t have your gumption for a picnic— it’s been pouring. It has been enough to watch the deer munching down lunch while standing out in the rain, and looking forlornly at me. They want an apple to brighten their day. Or, I should make that another apple. They have already begged one from me. If I were in the Bay area now, I think I would be snuggled into a coffee house with a good book, picnicking on a scone. –Curt

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  2. I enjoyed your day too, Kayti! xx

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  3. A wonderful account of a satisfying day. But it left me wondering what petrichlor is!

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    • Petrichlor is that lovely smell in the air you get just before a rain falling on very dry earth. Ozone is another smell for the same reason. It has been so long in coming this time and the earth is so thirsty. I was so happy to smell it once more. Today is another promised storm, but since the ground is wet–no petrichlor. Thank you for asking.

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  4. Yes, I fully understand to make the best of something which is less than ideal or expectations.

    A triumph of overcoming. It might be linked to real life as well. It often seems to rain in that department as well.

    A lovely and inspiring story, Kayti.

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  5. I was with you all the way there Kayti, that rain sounds so refreshing and the sandwiches equally so. I had to look up the word “petrichor”. This isn’t a word we have use for very often here, what a shame, it is beautiful. x

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  6. AK and Uncle sam, you guys are brave and awesome people! love that you went anyway! Love Cindy

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  7. And I understand that Stanford (even with no offense) beat Notre Dame! Bravo. They are my most favorite team to beat. Your description of a picnic undeterred by weather reminds me of Eudora Welty or maybe even Flannery O’Connor.

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  8. Well, well. We shared an experience, even if we didn’t share a picnic lunch. The first five days of my vacation were marred by rain and, more especially, by fog. The view from the top of the Arkansas mountains isn’t too great when there’s zero visibility. No matter. I figured if I couldn’t look up and out, I’d look down — and I got out my macro lens. I have no idea what the photos are going to look like until I get home — I’ve discovered this old laptop doesn’t show images to good effect — but that’s just another passing annoyance.

    Now, the sun is shining, and what color there is, is glowing. It’s not been frosty enough for the hillsides to begin to really turn, but it is pretty. I may even have myself a picnic or two!

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    • Cameras and laptops are so unreliable. My camera is not recording the color anymore and though I had thought about getting a new one, my eyesight isn’t like it used to be either, so it probably doesn’t matter, the brain is recording well enough. Sorry the vacation didn’t start out well as far as weather, but you chose the best way to handle it as usual. I think the sun is always shining for you!

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  9. Juvenile egrets–what a treat! We had severe storm warnings here last weekend, but it wasn’t bad at all in our area (Victoria BC), although I wouldn’t have stood too close to the shoreline! Nothing but rain in the forecast, now. After such a dry summer it takes quite awhile for the moisture to reach any great depth in the soil.

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  10. I really like the line “…it is lovely to drive down its peaceful tree lined streets, and revisit familiar and much loved old homes and other spots where my life became interesting.” We moved to Virginia in 1973 and lived in Arlington for our first ten years in Virginia. It was there that we had our four children in two different houses before moving out further to get a bigger house and yard. We’ve lived in our present house for 30 years. It is always fun to go back to Arlington and drive past our old houses because it is where our lives changed so much, for the better. The memories come welling up as I think of the many wonderful things that happened there. Lots of parents do pull their hair out with toddlers, but in retrospect, it’s a very special and happy time in a young family’s growth.

    Learning flexibility is an important life lesson, and can sometimes bring pleasant surprises.

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    • Your experience sounds so familiar. We all are really the Middle Americans they keep talking about. Families with jobs and homes and futures, with pasts which had bumps and clear sailing. Just the way it was supposed to be. I know the feeling you describe about driving past old houses which held all those memories. They are like picture albums. I find the memories are just as strong for the children too. We recently drove around through the Oakland hills where our children were born and they had recollections from before we moved to Fremont when they were 7 and 9.

      It is so important to enjoy the first few years of children’s lives. They go so quickly.

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