Saturday, September 29, 2012


A friend recently sent me a one-word e-mail:


Good advice and well-timed. I shut down the computer, walked out of my Calgary hotel and ambled down to the riverside walk. Novelty is a balm for the brain that grinds its wheels in routine habit and this was just what the doctor ordered. Past the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s that shouts “You’re in Canada!” seconded by the Quiznos sub advertising its delicious “flavours.” Down  by the river, a group of men playing…cricket.  Now you don’t see that every day in San Francisco! New sights, new sounds, the slight dischord between a hot summer day and crisp Fall leaves— the tonic of novelty was working.

But the other popular flavor in the brain’s preferred cocktails is familiarity. Here were the autumn colors of my New Jersey roots mixed with the childhood feeling of aimless rambling, free from work and identity, nothing to live up to, so free to grow down. Between the mild excitement of the new and the comfort food of the old, all the re’s were kicking in—refreshment, rejuvenation, recharging, remembering, reminding. Which led me to the next one—the restaurant. (Hmm. Restore-rant. Related to “restoring” energy with food and drink? )

The sun was setting over the river and an enormous flock of starlings reveling in the twilight with their cacophonous chatter when I spotted Prego’s Italian Cuisine. I sat outside—without heat lamps!— with Miles trumpeting “Summertime” at just the right volume and toasted the evening with a Big Rock Brewery ale, followed by spinach salad and penne pasta. Another walk downtown to return to the hotel, an old Gary Cooper movie on TV and the reluctant re-entry into the last pages of Bel Canto, Ann Patchett’s remarkable book that I am re-reading with such pleasure that I simply don’t want it to end. A lovely evening.

Now, grammarians, a quick review. What do the following words in this blog have in common? Recently, rest, refreshment, rejuvenation, recharging, remembering, reminding, restaurant, related, reveling, return, reluctant, re-entry, remarkable, re-reading, review? We might also add: here, were, free, Pregos, Brewery, pleasure.

When the mind is free to follow its own fancy, a blog about rest can take a fast left-turn into the spontaneous re-occurrence of two letters. Maybe it’s better for me to be busy. 

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