Please don’t get me started on flying commercially in this country. I don’t do it very often, but I have many strong opinions, most involving the stubborn refusal of too many customers to check their bags. It really chaps my ass, getting on a plane with a bunch of people, all of whom are trying to shove 10 pounds of bag into 5 pounds of overhead storage. It’s like traveling with a bunch of Soviet Siberians, back when the only place you could buy anything was Moscow, and you had to shlep it home on the Trans-Siberian Express. Of course, if you asked any of my fellow travelers, they’d say they’ve all lost luggage, oy but it was a nightmare and never again.
I’ve never lost my luggage. Maybe it’s just luck. To be sure, I don’t fly often. But before every flight, when the agent is tagging my bags, I check to make sure they have the right city on them. I rarely board with anything larger than what can be tucked under the seat. And for an extra 15 minutes at baggage claim, I am not one of the problem people.
How often in your life do you get to say this? If only there were more people in the world…well, like me.
Back and happy to be so. A few thoughts/clarifications:
** Just for the record, I didn’t spend my entire vacation thinking about the food movement in northern California. But I always need something to think about, and the Kingdom of Foodies made for satisfying vacation cogitation — not particularly consequential, and a lot less scary than, say, the fate of Fannie, Freddie and IndyMac. Plus, it was reinforced with every overpriced-yet-tasty meal.
So please don’t get the idea I’m obsessing about this. But I just came back from my post-vacation replenishment of the fridge and pantry, and it’s on my mind. Again.
Here’s what I spent a lot of time thinking about: Why do people I have so much in common with bug me so deeply? I enjoy eating well, eating local, eating slow. Few things bring me as much joy as a farmer’s market in July. I think fewer pesticides and chemical fertilizers is a good thing. I want the earth to be replenished by our agriculture, not depleted by it. I think farm animals have a right to cruelty-free lives.
And yet, one morning when we were getting dressed, the local NPR affiliate carried a local feature about a speed-dating event for people interested in green living, i.e., people who believe all those things about food, plus a few more covering how they live their lives and get to their jobs. One of the interviews was with a man who went away disappointed at the lack of commitment he found — people who thought recycling a few bottles and tolerating compact-fluorescent light bulbs constituted a green lifestyle. As opposed to him, for instance, who did everything short of composting his own excrement.
It wasn’t what he said that struck me so much as the tone — that blend of 90 percent smugness and 10 percent whining. It tickled a zone of deep familiarity in my brain before I figured where I’d heard it before. It is precisely the same one employed by certain Christians (I’m thinking Missouri Synod Lutherans here, but your local variety may be another denomination) when they’re finding fault with a world that fails to live up to their expectations and, far more important, reward their piety with social approval. And that’s when it clicked: This isn’t a lifestyle choice or even a movement, it’s a religion. And there’s nothing like religion to rinse all the fun out of something.
** How’s this for irony? When we were in Carmel, Clint Eastwood’s hometown, guess where he was? In our hometown.
** Sorry, Danny, didn’t make it up to Muir Woods, but we did spend an afternoon at Point Lobos State Reserve, and another kayaking on Elkhorn Slough. We got a pretty good dose of California’s loveliness.
** Someday I’d like to live in NoCal, if a) I can somehow go there with about $10 million in my pocket; and b) I can ever figure out the weather. As a Midwesterner, I prefer our Fisher-Price version — it comes from the west, it can be seen coming for days and days, there are no mountains to impede its progress and “summer” generally means “temperatures above 75 degrees.” The coastal breezes were wonderful for the first 48 hours — hey, why are all these people wearing down vests? — until we got acclimated, and then it was just, well, freezing. The rule seemed to be: Whatever the weather is in the morning, it will be the opposite by afternoon. Although it could be something else entirely.
Well, I have my old weather back now: The humidity smells like mold, not sage. The weather is on its old pattern, and sorry this is a disjointed mess but I have to go pick up the dog, whom I miss more than I ever imagined. Hang on, Spriggy — I’m on my way. The rest of you, back in a bit. And thanks for being such good chatterboxes when I was gone. You can run my bar anytime.