A Saturday Morning Post
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
Sacramento, California: We drove up Thursday, leaving at eight-thirty in order to arrive in the afternoon, taking the five North from Los Angeles, over the grapevine, then stopping for breakfast on the other side.
Life has its archetypes—Saturday mornings, summer vacation, the two of you, together, on an open road. The Central Valley used to be mostly desert, now it's mostly farms, orchards, vineyards, and—more frequently—communities. Breakfast was at a Denny's. For lunch we stopped at Pea Soup Anderson's in Santa Nella.
We shared a salad there: lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, chicken, cashews, and bell peppers. Bell peppers. They must have been unusually fresh.
It was summer vacation, fifty years ago. I lived in a little town in upstate New York. During the year, my classroom had been on the second floor of the volunteer fire department, which also sponsored the local drum and bugle corps. Recess was outside, on the lawn between the firehouse and the town library, a made over house full of musty old books.
But this was summer. Eddie Prentice and I carted a cardboard box, filled with old comic books, from his back porch to the loft in his families barn (or was it just a shed?). We'd read those comic books hundreds of times, as had probably every kid in town. It was one way we wiled away the summer months.
The local grocery, a tiny Mom and Pop operation just down the road, had another cardboard box on the floor by the front door, also crammed with used comics. The new ones, which you could only get in the pharmacy, out on the main road, cost ten cents each. Used ones, which for some reason had had the covers removed, could be bought from the box for a nickel. When you tired of them, you could sell them back for three cents.
Eddie and I carried his personal collection down to the barn, stopping on the way to pick bell peppers, fresh from his family's garden. Up in the loft, we could look out over the long slope to the creek and the hills beyond, and munch bell peppers while we worked our way through Superman and Batman, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Gizmo Gadget, and Little Lulu.
I sometimes feel sorry for the younger generation. Summers seem to be too full these days. There's something to be said for the sense of the day, or the week, ahead of you, waiting to be filled with whatever you decide to do.
I feel the same way about Saturdays. We walked out to breakfast this morning, about four blocks. Sacramento, with its shaded streets and alleys and old buildings and wide sidewalks reminds me of what Saturday is really about—something I tend to forget back in Los Angeles.
Something I need to remember to remember.