Rainy, Rainy Day

Yesterday morning I had a dilemma. On Thursdays we always start our day with a trip to Savory, where I get coffee or tea and June gets a snack (these days she favors whole-wheat bagels with cream cheese). From there we head to the library for Spanish Circle Time, which starts at 10:30. The perfect bus to catch for this expedition stops in front of our house at 9:20. But on the past two Thursdays that bus did not show up at all, leaving us to wait a half hour for the next one and forcing us to cut the outing short. I had June eat her bagel in the stroller instead of lingering in Savory and we ended up grabbing books to take home more or less randomly of the shelves instead of give them a leisurely test read in the library.

Now last week something like 750 traffic lights were out in Montgomery County and it tied up traffic all over (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/04/AR2009110402413.html), so that might have been what was going on, and I really wasn’t sure if there was a pattern of trouble with the 9:20 bus or not. The weather was miserable, in the forties with rain pelting down. I didn’t want to end up waiting a half hour at the bus stop again, but catching the 8:50 would leave us with quite of a bit of time to kill at Savory because the library doesn’t open until ten. (The fact that Ride On has recently reduced service on this route from every fifteen minutes to every half hour only raises the stakes of these decisions.) After thinking it over, I decided to catch the 8:50. We’d test out the 9:20 again some other Thursday when the weather was less punishing.

The bus came more or less on time and we boarded it. I sang softly to June:

It’s a rainy, rainy day
But that’s okay.
We’re gonna have fun anyway.

She sang back to me, rather loudly:

On this rainy, rainy day
We’ll laugh and play
It’s a rainy, rainy day.

http://www.lyricstime.com/milkshake-rainy-rainy-day-lyrics.html

The rest of song is about making mud pies and stomping in puddles and other rainy day fun, not that I had anything like that in mind (temperatures in the forties, remember?) but I was glad to be on our way and hopeful about having a good day.

We got off the bus near Savory and right away I noticed something odd. It was dark inside and there were no cars in the parking lot. I checked my watch: 9:05. I wasn’t sure when they open, but it’s a coffeehouse, so surely they should have been open by 9:00 on a weekday morning. I saw a hand-lettered sign on the door: “Temporarily Closed.” Someone had stuck a post-it note to the sign indicating that an Amnesty International meeting at Savory had been cancelled. We’d been there just a week before and there’d been no indication of anything wrong, but the hastily scrawled sign seemed ominious. (Later in the day I read a melancholy Facebook posting from a friend who said it was going out of business.)

Standing under the awning I looked at the rain and considered my immediate problem and the irony of having left the house early. We were a fifteen-minute walk from the library, which did not open for almost an hour. Since we had so much time, I decided to venture into downtown Takoma in search of bagels and coffee. We ended up at another eatery I won’t even name because I don’t like to badmouth local businesses, but the coffee there is almost always horrible. It’s not horrible just often enough for me to keep ordering it there on the rare occasions that I go just in hopes that this is one of their better days. I took the gamble. It didn’t pay off. June’s bagel was edible and warm though, so it wasn’t a total loss.

While we were eating a man came in, surveyed the menu and then asked for directions to Savory. The man behind the counter started to give them, but I interjected to tell him that Savory was closed, that we’d just come from there. Two women at the next table over, the only other customers in the place, said Savory had been closed for two days. They’d tried to go both days. The man asked where he could get a vegan breakfast, just a bowl of oatmeal would be fine. I suggested he try Mark’s Kitchen. The two women said that had been their second stop, after Savory. None of us had any other ideas. The vegan man studied the menu again and found nothing he could eat. I felt sorry for him, but I was also amused that everyone in the restaurant was there as a second or third choice. We wished him luck and he left.

Now I had to decide how we would get to the library. We were very near a bus stop for a bus that would go right there, but I didn’t know the schedule for this part of town. We were probably about a twenty-five minute walk from the library now. Should we risk a half hour wait in the rain or not? I was leaning toward walking when I saw a bus pull up to the stop. It wasn’t the route I wanted, but one that goes to a lot of the same stops and generally runs about five to ten minutes earlier in most part of town, so I knew the bus I wanted was on the way. I hustled June into her coat and we headed for the bus stop. Soon, we were on our way to the library. We arrived about ten minutes before the library opened its doors so we waited in the lobby of the nearby community center, reading the books we were going to return.

We had plenty to time to choose books before Spanish Circle Time started but we spent a lot of it reading a Curious George book we own and I won’t check out books we own, so we still ended up hurrying to pick our take-home books. When Circle Time started June was distracted. She’s unsure about this new Circle Time. She misses the old one we used to attend on Tuesdays, which is quieter and conducted in a language she understands by a librarian she’s known for almost two years. (We made the switch because she goes to school on Tuesday mornings this year.) Sometimes she will watch attentively and she has learned some of the songs, but she can get overwhelmed by the leader, who is a bit too effusive for her taste. We always sit in the back ever since the horrifying day when the leader tried to dance with her. She asked to go to the bathroom for a diaper change in the middle, which is kind of unusual. Then she insisted on following me when I went to the poetry section to get a book for Noah. When I got up to dance during one of the songs, I tried to get her to hold my hands and dance with me, but she turned her back on me and paged through a book. Clearly, she was not up for the rollicking experience of Spanish Circle Time. I let her look at her books, and then we checked out and left.

Noah had an early dismissal, his second this week, due to ongoing parent-teacher conferences. (We had ours with Señor S on Wednesday.) So he got home before I managed to get June down for her nap. I thought the novelty of having him home might disturb her nap but she went right to sleep. When she woke, I went outside to see if it was still raining. It was misting a little, just as it had been two hours earlier when I’d been outside waiting for Noah’s bus. I decided the weather was good enough to walk to Noah’s school and pick up the fundraiser cookie dough we’d ordered. Beth had to go straight from work to back-to-back nursery school meetings so I wanted to save her the trip. I thought it might make it more likely she’d have time to stop and get herself something for dinner.

June was a bit grumpy to go out into the cold and damp again, but soon she was settled into the stroller with one of her new library books and we were off to the wooded creek-side path. “Over the river and through the woods, to Noah’s school we go, because we want cookie dough,” I sang. We sang this a few more times, deciding to change the word “river” to “creek” for accuracy’s sake.

We got to school and went up to the library where they were distributing cookie dough. The man behind the desk asked for Noah’s homeroom teacher and last name. And then he delivered the sad news that half of the school’s shipment had not arrived and our order was in that half. I couldn’t believe we’d walked twenty minutes to school for nothing. If I’d brought my wallet I could have salvaged the trip because there was a book fair and a bake sale going on, but I hadn’t. They had hot cider, too, which would have been nice after our cold, damp walk. I scanned the halls for parents I knew well enough to ask for a loan of ten or fifteen dollars, but even though I’d seen two such families the day before when we went to Noah’s conference, I didn’t see anyone I knew well at all.

“I wish we had some money,” Noah said about twenty times. Just as I was starting to get seriously annoyed at him, he stopped and commenced to skip down the wet, leaf-strewn path home.

June was more distraught: “Where is our cookie dough? Why is there no cookie dough? We need cookie dough! We need it! Now we will never be able to make cookies ever again!” (I am thinking of enrolling her in a preschool drama class at the rec center this winter. Do you thinks she needs it?) Finally, I managed to get her interested in looking at an unusual hairylooking mushroom growing on a tree-trunk after two days of non-stop rain.

When we got home, I fished the mail out the mailbox and found the November/December issue of Ladybug, which was odd, since we already had a copy. Then I remembered I’d recently called to extend June’s subscription. Apparently, they had created a new, overlapping one instead. This is not the first customer service problem I’ve had with the Cricket brand of magazines (which I love, for the record). As I considered the prospect of trying to sort this out, I felt overwhelmed. Then I wondered if Savory, where my dissertation director told me she thought I was ready to defend, where we passed many a Saturday evening listening to live music when Noah was a toddler and loved music more than anything, and where June and I have had a weekly date for close to two years, was really closed for good. We were thinking about going there for dinner on Saturday. If I’d known there were closing I would have picked up some spinach pies to take home last week. If I’d known we would have gone to see Takoma Zone (http://www.takomazone.com/) play one last time.

I was home alone with the kids all evening while Beth was in meetings. In between making and cleaning up from dinner, I tried to pick up the living room in anticipation of June’s playdate with the Blue Maple the next day. I forgot that June needed a bath until I’d already told the kids they could watch both June’s Sesame Street dvd and Noah’s Fraggle Rock one so I ended up bathing her late and trying to get Noah ready for bed at the same time. (He ended up getting confused and when I went in to check the water, I found him in it.)

Before that, though, as I walked through the living room while the kids were watching television, I saw them snuggled together on the couch and for a moment the dark day seemed just a little brighter.

Today June and I went to Starbucks and ended up having a really nice time. I read her one of her library books, and then I perused a newspaper someone left behind as she paged through her book and Stevie Wonder played. We came home and watched most of Sesame Street. A new season has just started so it was one we hadn’t seen over and over. Then the Blue Maple and her mom and baby sister came over for the playdate, which June declared “a lot fun” right before they left. (They brought with them the very mushroom we’d admired the day before. The mom told me where they found it. Apparently it’s called Lion’s Mane and is edible–http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hericium_erinaceus.)

The rest of the day unfolded more or less like a normal Friday. Noah’s school sent out an email with a new pickup date for cookie dough and announced a plan to mail the dough directly to students’ houses starting next year. A representative from Ladybug returned my call and said she’d cancelled the duplicate subscription and extended June’s old one. I didn’t need to take any more action on either front. At dinner Noah addressed me as ”Madam,” for some reason. It struck me as really funny and made me laugh hard, which felt good. It was a much superior day.

I guess Friday the 13th came a day early for me.

  • Stephanie

    This post reminds me of how I teach my students the stories of Sherlock Holmes as a series of increasingly complex methods of navigating timetables, transportation, and urban schedules in the metropolis. The end result will surely be, as it was for him, that you will be able to solve all dark mysteries of the mind and heart and make the universe right.

    Sorry I missed you on my D.C. visit. Next time?

  • Kelli

    You really know how to tell a story. The details of your songs, the things you remember the Savory for, the bus schedule- all just added up to make me feel like I was there. It was wonderful at the end, when the sadness and muddle eased away in the sweet family moments– kids snuggling and Noah calling you, “madam.” Wow.

  • I can’t believe they snuggle like that together – freakin’ adorable.

  • Every once in a while my kids will sit next to each other and watch something on TV without bickering or poking each other. It reminds me of when they were younger and each other’s best friend. It’s getting more and more rare, so I really enjoy the moments when I catch them.