samedi 16 mai 2009

Le café

Diane and me last summer near Chambonnet, her summer home ("La Belle Ruine") in France.

Today we went for a bike ride with our neighbor, from Mount Vernon to La Conner and back. It is an easy, flat ride through the farm-studded Skagit Valley. The tulip season is over. Nothing that magnificent can last. We had a quick lunch at the brew pub in La Conner. It was supposed to be quick. The service was slow so we had to rush out and get back on our bikes so that Walt could get to the ball field by 4 pm.

I thought about the hundreds of lunches I had with Diane in Paris over the years. I lived near where she worked and getting away from my home office was a pleasure and a necessity. We would meet at the aptly named Ailleurs (Elsewhere) most of the time. As we got to know the waitresses (relatively rare in France; most restaurant servers are career waiters) over time -- Marlène, from Cuba, and Lulu (short for Ludmilla) from Madagascar -- we became friends and were always well taken care of. Every once in awhile, they would make a great ceremony of presenting us with a bill for "zero francs" (later, "zero euros"). A free lunch. Just because. I was thinking about how in France every lunch, whether with ma copine Diane or a client, ends with coffee. With an expresso usually. And the petite tasse de café almost always comes with a wrapped chocolate. Sometimes the chocolate is covering an almond. It is such a lovely way to end a meal. I miss this ending.

All the way home, I was thinking about how nice un petit café et un petit chocolat would taste. I love the moment when coffee meets chocolate: the coffee gives up a tiny bit of heat, the chocolate a tiny bit of hardness.

Diane, if you stop by and read, I want you to know how much I miss our lunches. They were often the highlight of my day. I miss you, my friend. I feel a trip to Paris is needed. Coffee and chocolate.