Saturday, August 25, 2007

my day in a cabriolet

Sometimes those fossil-fuel-fed machines get it right. Take this:

and imagine that instead of palm trees, this is in the background:

and you have a slight approximation of the experience I am about to describe. It started like this: the other day my friend Brenda, who happens to drive a VW Beetle Convertible in Sea-green, named Luna, was going to have lunch with me. She had said she could go into town to pick up a pizza, and if I wanted, I could ride into town with her, to pick it up, with the top down. I was already excited about this prospect, and then when she arrived, the day was even more brilliantly beautiful than it had been forecast. Brenda said,

"You know, I have the afternoon free. If you're up for it, we could do more driving than we'd planned. We could even do the Trail!"

I hemmed and hawed... would I get overtired? The Cabot Trail is roughly four hours of a drive, if you don't stop anywhere. However, it's gorgeous for pretty much the entire time. Would we have to stop and socialize with people we know, when all I wanted to do was feel the breeze? Brenda read my mind:

"We don't have to stop anywhere, besides where you want. If you get tired, you can sleep. If you want to turn back, we can." Her good mood was infectious, and that along with the beautiful weather convinced me this was an opportunity I should grab with both hands.

I packed a small bag -- sunglasses, Boston Red Sox baseball hat (I know nothing about baseball beyond the basics, this is a memento from last summer's family reunion baseball game, and happens to be the only baseball hat that's ever looked good on me), water bottles, wallet. She put the top down. We drove off, and even before we left the dirt road I live on, I was having a fabulous time. The view from a convertible feels glamourous and adventurous at the same time, and shall I dare say, it became me? That's probably how everyone riding in a convertible feels, actually -- like a totally deserving famous person out for a jaunt. Even the spruce trees along the Bay Road seemed saucy and looked different as we zipped past. The alchemy of a cabriolet!

We ate lunch at the Dancing Goat Cafe in Margaree, where the sandwiches are huge and delicious, and the soups are always creamy. Then onward to Cheticamp, where I asked if we could stop at the Boulangerie de l'Est, thinking I was revealing a gem. Brenda laughed: "Can we?" Turns out she knows the proprietress, and goes there when she can for afternoons of pastries and conversation. This time we had some of both, chatting with Judy a bit, and picking up some delicious chocolate cookies, a Bear Claw (filled with almond paste) and goodies for the less-fortunate (our loved ones who couldn't come with us on this whirlwind trip). The pastries here are seriously well-made: when you eat one, you think, "I can't have had real pastry before this, because this is so different!" Or at least, that's what I think. They literally melt on the tongue, and the flavors are at once subtle, because they disappear so fast, and memorable, because they are so stunning.

And believe it or not, I am not exaggerating.

North from Cheticamp the road entered the park, and the dramatic mountain scenery began. Up and down, over hills we went, always being able to see nearly 365 degrees around. In four hours we hardly stopped talking, and I hardly stopped gawking at the scenery, twisting around in my seat to get the view as we would leave a valley, or turn a corner, or climb a hill. The few puffy white clouds there were laid a patchwork of shadows on the distant green mountains, and helped temper the warm sun beating down on us. Later, near 5, it started to get cool, so we turned on the interior heat for our feet, while the brisk breeze gave our upper halves the feeling of Fall. Oh, the luxury!

When Brenda dropped me at home that evening, and drove off to Sarah's hen's night, I entered the house feeling very much like Cinderella after the ball. No proof of the pumpkin save for crystal-clear memories, which continue to dazzle me days later.

Thanks, Brenda!

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