The cork popped, the wine spilled into clear glass. It was 4:30 in the afternoon. Slicing zucchini, tomatoes, hearts of palm. Blending garlic and mayonnaise and cider vinegar. Massaging the steaks with bare fingers.
The children ate their way through the day and into the night. Snacks followed by meals followed by snacks again. Red, white and blue popsicles dripping on the patio. Fingernails caked with dirt, faces sweat-streaked and smiling.
Ending the night on the backyard swing with the sway of tall branches doing their own configured dances and the light of fireflies still a desired scene yet to come. What-ifs permeated the air. Left unspoken so as to savor the moments.
The night darkened velvetly and then in the early morning, thunderstorms shook the foundations. A memory of the children caught on tape to play on the morning news, the strawberries picked by hand long since consumed.
A lazy morning ensued with an overdose of television and long lingering stretching yawns from beneath soft pajamas. It was our last full day of this little vacation.
And so the dinner that night, inviting a weekly respite, was sublimely light and full of the flavors of the tongue. Cheese pancakes, another full-bowl salad, salmon croquettes mashed by a fork and a hard-working hand. After-dinner conversation flowed river-like until the children clamored so mightily it was time for everyone to collapse into bed.
Today is many days in a single day. Humid, muggy, thundering and raining then dry and sunny and ominously warm. Trees shake off their final drops from last night’s rainfall. The friends have left and lifted into the air toward their home. Two children are sleeping. And I have yet to pack for my own journey.