Simple pleasures

It’s been cool for a couple of weeks, so I think it’s safe at this point to say that summer is more or less over. I’m no fan of winter, but with the changing of the seasons, three small pleasures return:

1. It’s been cool enough for us to resume our tradition of taking Song and Riggy to the dog park on Sunday afternoons. After being cooped up in the house all summer, they’re really enjoying the change to get out and romp with the other dogs.

2. It’s cool enough for cappuccino in the evenings. I bought a new burr grinder several months ago but never put it to use because the weather was so hot, I just didn’t feel like messing with it. I cleared off a counter and set it up tonight. I didn’t have any good espresso on hand, but I rummaged around in the cabinets and found a bag of decaf house blend I’d picked up in Makanda last time I was home. It was stale, but I put it through the grinder anyway. Stale or not, Makanda Java tastes like home, and for me, cappuccino is always a multisensory experience anyway — one that exists in both the past and present tenses simultaneously. Depending on my mood, the time of year, and my surroundings, a cappuccino can conjure a skipped class, an icy morning in Carbondale, a laugh with a friend, a 20-year-old conversation about politics, a Gus Bode cartoon, a novel I never got around to writing, a text from a friend at a moment of crisis, a date in St. Louis’ Central West End, or any of a thousand other scraps of memory scrawled on paper napkins or scribbled on receipts and bank deposit slips and dropped down the rabbit-holes at the bottoms of purses that no longer exist, where they slipped through singularities and vanished, waiting to surface again at odd moments when the first shock of hot, bitter coffee penetrates the gentleness of foam and carries me into the past at the very moment I’m savoring the present.

Even bad coffee is usually a good experience.

3. Hoodie season is upon us. I didn’t really appreciate hoodies until I wore one to ward off the chill of San Francisco this spring and realized the cool suited me fine if it came with Beat poetry, an ocean breeze, and breakfast in a little coffeehouse two or three blocks from the Pacific. San Francisco is a long way from Oklahoma, but somehow it feels closer when I’m snuggled into a warm hoodie under a cool rain.

Hope you’re enjoying your evening, wherever you are.