We had to go to the city today. To remodel homes older than 1980, Vern was required by the state of Oregon to take a lead-based paint certification course. I went along to keep him company on the hundred-mile drive.
Sticking to a “diet” while traveling is tough at best. How do you find something on a restaurant menu that isn’t fried, baked, or sautéed in unhealthy oil or drenched in cheese, seasoned with bacon, or blended with cream?
Knowing this, we opted to take our own lunches. Vern made avocado and cheese sandwiches on healthy bread for himself. But he had no idea of where to begin with a lunch for me. I didn’t want the mayo, or the cheese, or the bread.
Until this morning, the idea of brown bagging a lunch sounded adventurous. We could park anywhere, choose a spot with a view of the snow dusted mountains, and enjoy our meal without restaurant noise. It would be just the two of us and our food, just the way we like it.
All I could come up with, however, was a salad. A plain, ordinary green salad. I threw lettuce, spinach and tomatoes together, plopped the mixture into a quart sized mason jar, and hurried out the door.
After finding a view spot, we parked the car, and we pulled out our lunches. The very second that Vern bit into his sandwich, the aroma from the cheese–it’s one of my favorites with little bits of spicy peppers throughout it–filed our car’s interior with a mouth watering, tanginess. My poor salad, lay limp at the bottom of the jar; the romaine and spinach leaves had wilted and shrunk to half their original size. I ate it without complaint.
Having an afternoon without demands on my attention was a gift from God. I could do anything–shop, visit interesting sights, anything. I left Vern at the college and headed for a newly opened coffee house. For the next two-hours, I lost myself in writing, The experience, a tonic for my soul, produced a rush of deep contentment and euphoria. It was pure bliss.
Every now and then, I paused and rested my hand, and searched my mind for a particular verb or for a better way to express a concept. Across from me, a bakery window with three shelves of pastries caught my glance. After wondering what sort of goodies were available, I pulled my eyes back to my project and resumed writing.
Then I paused, stared at the “forbidden fruit,” and pondered my latest sentence. Could a strong verb replace the adjective? Could my latest concept be made more concise?
“Can I get you something?” A young waitress said, breaking my concentration. “Would you like something else?” She smiled down at my empty tea glass.
For the next few moments, I learned about each of the sweet delicacies on those shelves. The owner made everything from scratch, the waitress told me. There were donuts filled with cream, donuts with a sprinkling of crisp bacon, fritters the size of dinner plates, and freshly baked muffins.
“These are muffin tops,” she pointed at the little cakes. “They aren’t deep fat fried,” she said. (Less cholesterol, I reasoned.) And since they’re only one-fourth the size of the average muffin, they have only one-fourth the calories of the average muffin. (I rationalized some more.) They’re apple cinnamon. Apples are good for just about everything. And cinnamon will even out my blood sugar.
I rolled it around and around in my mind until I knew what I must do. The waitress, an excellent salesperson, obviously wanted me to buy something from the window, and how could I disappoint her?
She and the muffin top won.