Hidden World

As I wandered through the foggy streets the other day, winding back to the car where my friend sat waiting for me to return with good news, I finally encountered an old man walking his dog.

My friend and I have a problem.  We desperately need to fill the gas tank.  Is there a station nearby? I asked.

He looked me up and down, and provided meticulous instructions to the nearest gas station – a concerning five miles north.  He did not mention street names, just landmarks.  Turn left at the first street past this cove, he said.  I thanked him, and he good-naturedly added, The locals remove the direction signs because they are not fond of tourists.  This was discouraging news; however, the gas tank would not miraculous replenish itself so I returned to the car and by following our angel’s instructions we tumbled into Bolinas.

Bo-Gas satisfied the fuel needs, and a nearby community center satisfied the need for a bio-break.  Several day laborers sat on the edge of concrete planters in front of the community center building.  A parking lot consisting of six parking spaces led our eyes to a small building behind the center, where a natural foods store was attracting a bevy of locals; as we approached a young gentleman attired in a rough wool cape, flood pants and desert boots impatiently pushed past us, and I realized that we were the interlopers in this close-knit town.

All the same, we lingered.  We found a busy cafe serving good coffee in capuccino mugs; I ordered a plain but delicious French toast with tasty smoked bacon on the side, while my friend enjoyed a huge and reportedly fantastic tofu scramble (it smelled great even to the carnivore at the table).  At the next table a group of young men were gathered, hands circling large mugs, and each was wearing an Obama tee shirt.  Outside the window beyond them, a local resident’s garden rambled over the restaurant’s porch railing.  Up close the heavy fog is really swiftly-moving light precipitation passing damp onto each man, woman, child, dog.  An old wood sided house near the restaurant was heavily stained with mildew.

A leisurely walk down to the end of the street brought us to ocean’s edge, where several dogs played in the surf and the negative ions clung to our skin, interlopers of a different kind.  We walked along the sand, watching the surf surge to shore, and reluctantly recede.  In the distance there were more clouds, and the lack of vista added poignancy to the rugged morning beauty of the ocean.

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2 responses

  1. You have a talent for writing, your style is really coming out in full force, love it as I love those little towns where landmarks are the preferred directions!

  2. That is a very kind compliment. Thank you!

    My husband and I were talking about the hidden small towns this morning as we walked the dog. There is a lot of poverty, and one can’t help but think some of it could be relieved by tourists spending their money. The other side of this is that entertaining tourists is intrusive, and these small towns are filled with people craving some isolation or at the least, privacy.

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