we continue to make our own fun

Yesterday was my first mothers’ day as a, you know, combatant. It was lovely. Jeremy made me breakfast in bed. We found parking and a table at Tartine, and even though they’d run out of their (fabulous! amazing!) olive bread, we had wonderful quiche, excellent coffee from their new espresso bar and the best pain au chocolat I have ever tasted, hot from the oven, the berry-rich Scharffen-berger melting between intricate strata of yeasty pastry.

We dropped by some friends in the East Bay then drove up to Tilden, stopping randomly at the first trail head that beckoned. We’d happened on the Arroyo Trail, and turned out to be the exemplar of a Tilden trail, winding up through oak woods beside a running stream, past a whispering eucalyptus grove to high meadows riotous with wildflowers: gorgeous, emergency-orange poppies like fierce little flames, purple clover, blue harebells, scarlet paintbrushes, crimson Andes grass, butter-bright dandelions and various flowers that until we moved to California I knew only as the names of rabbits in Watership Down: loosestrife and feverfew and speedwell.

We sat on a rock near the hilltop with the North Bay silver and splendid beneath us, Mount Tam crooked like a sleeping woman’s hip, the northern pylon of the Golden Gate Bridge suspending its cables over a white haze. Another family followed us up, their boy about four.

“What do you see, Noah?” asked his mother.

Noah surveyed the scene. “Chemicals!” he said.

His parents exploded with laughter, and so did we, but as soon as they were out of earshot Jeremy said: “He’s quite right.” Even leaving aside the Richmond chemical-industrial complex directly below us, the entire scene was composed of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon and their compounds and cousins, arrayed in visually pleasing forms.

I fed Claire and Jeremy took photos of a determined little ladybird climbing a blade of grass.

“This is the imaginary version of parenthood,” I told him. “Sitting on a hill in the sun with flowers all around us, and my beautiful daughter inspecting a piece of clover. I didn’t think it would really be like this.”

“This is how my mum always described it,” he pointed out.

“I keep thinking I’m going to wake up.”

We stopped on College Avenue for a surprisingly pleasant Italian meal, and zoomed back over the Bay.

“The toll collector must think he’s seeing double,” I say as I pull in behind another silver Jetta, Hedwig’s twin.

“I think toll collectors are probably quite used to seeing silver Jettas,” says Jeremy.

“I’ve seen them everywhere since we bought Hedy. There’s been a rash of them.”

I think for a minute.

“It must be like, if you become a Rastafarian, you suddenly start seeing Rastafarians everywhere. And there’s a rash o’mon.”

I pause for effect.

“But that’s another story.”

“It all depends on how you look at it,” says Jeremy.

We laugh excessively. The laughter subsides. I think some more. Jeremy starts to chuckle again.

“I love the way you move your lips when you’re rehearsing another dreadful pun,” he says.

The silver car speeds us home.

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