Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 20

Even though we are on vacation, my morning routine begins much the same way it does at home. Up at five or six, write for an hour to an hour and a half, breakfast, shower, and then my morning walk.

When on vacation I will often walk with my iPod shuffling through a variety of songs, mainly so I don't feel so alone. Glen made the suggestion when I was getting ready to leave the condo on Tuesday morning "Why don't you leave the iPod behind?". Well as any good wife would do I said "We'll see", as I tucked the iPod into the zippered pocket of my lightweight jacket. But he was right, an admission it pains me to make, it was better without the iPod playing. I was able to really be a part of my beautiful surroundings. I could hear the cock-a-doodle-do of a rooster nearby, I could hear the soft thump of my running shoes on the cracked and faded country asphalt road. I could hear a car approaching from a good half mile away, giving me pretty of time to stand to the side of the road, since bike paths do not exist here. The more I thought about it I knew that neither Maroon 5 nor One Republic belonged here.

As I walked along my favorite country road, lined on both sides with empty cherry trees, I had lots of time to think. I thought a lot about writing and how it has become such an important part of my life. How everything I see holds a story waiting to be told. I thought about how three years ago when I started this creative journey I was sure that I wanted to be a photographer, but what I have really become is a writer who takes photographs to support the story.

As I approached the end of the road and my turn around spot, I came upon a small white farm house with a lovely weathered wood barn. Standing there in the corral was a handsome brown and white painted horse. He caught the movement of me walking by and lift his head to watch me with his big brown eyes. I am sure he doesn't see too many random walkers on his road. I, in turn watched him, wondering what he was thinking as I walked past.

I reached the end of the road and turned around after taking a couple of photos with my phone of an Apples for sale sign that was on the side of the road. As I neared the horse's corral again I noticed he had moved closer to the front of his corral, closer to the road. Was he as curious about me as I was about him? Ever the rule breaker I was tempted to move closer to his fence, see if he would let me run my hand over his velvety nose and scratch the wiry hair between his alert ears. As I was debating this thought, a lady in yellow came out of the house and set off towards the barn, probably ready to give my new friend his breakfast. He saw her too and ambled off in the direction of the barn. I guess food wins over curiosity.

Knowing Glen was waiting for me at the condo, I picked up my return pace. We were off to the city that morning. Not quite as big as the city I went to the previous week, but still the contrast is quite strong when you compare this country life to the city life. Glen had a presentation to work on for an event he was attending the following week. Initially he was going to go to their office in the city and work there and I was going to go to the coffee shop to write. Not surprisingly, he changed his mind that morning and was now going to go with me to the coffee shop. I know secretly he likes to be in my stories.

We arrived at the coffee shop at half past ten. Mallory and I had visited this coffee shop earlier in the summer when Glen and I had been up here for our two week vacation and Mallory was doing her summer internship at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. So I knew that this coffee shop was a busy place, again very technology forward like the coffee shop from last week, but this one had a more homey feel to it. As expected it was packed with people on this steely-gray, overcast Autumn day. I wanted to make sure that there was a table available for us to sit at before I committed to placing my order.

Thankfully we found a two seat table under some bright recessed lights. I mention the bright lights because much of the coffee shop is quite dark, made even darker by the overcast day. For two people with less than perfect eye sight, light is essential. We quickly claimed our table, shedding coats to drape over the chairs, stating this is our table so leave it alone.

At the order counter, we were greeted by a very friendly, enthusiastic, slightly beyond college age girl. I was given choices for what kind of Chai I would like; spiced, pumpkin spice or vanilla chocolate. Well I have had the first two in some form before, so I decided to order the vanilla chocolate for something completely different. It was a bit of a surprise at the first sip because it wasn't what I was use to but really quite good. Glen and I both selected cinnamon pastries from their delectable filled pastry case. Although on our third day of vacation, I already feel like I could stop eating for the rest of vacation and still feel very full. Food overload! Yet we keep on eating, because there are amazing places to eat up here with irresistible food.

I couldn't hear conversations very well because of the sheer volume of noise in the coffee shop, and my husband informed me as he sat down and opened his computer that he wasn't going to talk so I couldn't eavesdrop on him. Funny since the only person he would be talking to is me. Since I couldn't hear I decided instead to study the people around me, working on my observation and descriptive skills.

I now know how the glaring lady felt a few weeks back when I sat at the round, five seat table all alone with my notebook. As I watched a lone guy sit at a table for four nursing a cup of black coffee and constantly looking at the small mobile phone in his hand. I wanted him to get up and move so that Glen and I wouldn't be so squished at our little table, filled with his laptop, our coffee and chai, our pastry plates, and my notebook. But like me he didn't move either. I guess I can concur with his stubbornness to move. He was an interesting fellow to watch. He would alternate between looking at the phone in his hand and then looking around the coffee shop. We seemed to be on a perfect diagonal when we looked up we would see each other. I wondered if he was lost in thought as he looked up or if he was truly seeing me looking his way. Who knows maybe he was writing about me on his phone as I was writing about him in my notebook. Now wouldn't that be funny.

The gentleman at the table in front of the phone guy was very fascinating to me. He was dressed from head to toe in bright primary color tie-dye. He had on a tie-dye handkerchief tied around his head, he had a tie-dye t-shirt over a long-sleeved tie-dye shirt, and then the very best, tie-dye pants. I didn't see his shoes but they could have been tie-dye as well. You certainly would not miss this guy walking down the street. As the tie-dye guy got up to leave I also noticed he had a large tie-dye canvas bag that he slung over his shoulder on his way out the door.

Tie-dye guy's table was quickly claimed by a nerdy looking, quick coffee sipper. He was dressed all in navy with 1950's black plastic and gold-rimmed glasses that kept slipping down his nose as he huddled over his coffee cup. He struck me as a nervous fellow, probably kept locked away in a computer closet somewhere, only getting to see the light of day at lunch time. Since he goes to work when it is dark and goes home when it is dark no matter what time of year it is. Of course the nerdy guy was on his phone too. What is it with lonely guys and their phones? He quickly finished sipping his coffee and was out the door before I knew it. Back to the computer closet he must go.

There were two cute twenty-something girls that were sitting on the same side of a two seater table laptops open in front of each of them. I gathered they were working on a design project together as they were talking about design and layout. Eventually the person next to them left and they were able to push two tables together so each had a table for her laptop.

Somedays I think all this technology is slowing killing our social skills. As I looked around the coffee shop and noticed many people with iPads in front of them, two ladies watching something together on an iPad. Whatever happened to plain and simple conversation? The only non-technology people I saw were two ladies sitting across from each other talking and one had a notepad and a pen in front of her. How did this simple form of communication become the lost art?

As I sat there and listened to all the dings, whistles and guitar strums of incoming emails, text messages and phone calls, I longed to be back on my quiet, country road alone with my thoughts and only the brown and white horse for company.


  1. awe, the art of observation and the skill of adding your own story to that which surrounds you.

    ** hard as it is to believe there is ANYWHERE Maroon 5 or One Republic doesn't belong, it pays to unplug. Good reminder.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this installment.

  2. You should have scratched his ears. Lovely post today. Thanks.

  3. I am now imagining you running to 'Love Runs Out' by One Republic at full blast!! I love your observations in the coffee shop - you are right, the art of conversation is gradually being lost (says me with my laptop and phone and my daughter with iPad, iPod and phone while watching TV!!). Have a great week x

  4. I admire that you hold to your routine while on vacation. The place where your are staying sounds wonderfully relaxing. So enjoyed this installment. Looking forward to the next.

  5. I'm so thankful that you don't take a vacation from writing while you're on vacation.

  6. I always enjoy the coffee shop chronicles! Indeed, we are losing many former skills of communication like taking, listening, and writing (by hand). There is some kind of electronic gadget in most people's hands nowadays.

  7. Oh I think I would have found Tye-Dye guy quite interesting. I hate seeing people now with phones, lap tops hand instead of communicating with each other. I'm a "rare breed" I guess because when I go for coffee with one of my friends that's what we do, we sit, chat and enjoy our drinks and each others company.

  8. Sounds like you are having a wonderful vacation. I agree walking with out the earphones, much better.

  9. I actually look forward to the day when the "lights" go out. We will all be back to "normal".

  10. Love your observations today, the tie dye guy sounds amazing haven't seen anyone quite like that in my local coffee shop.
    Technology is a bit of a life saver if you are on your own and you aren't a writer I suppose. I do both !!!

  11. I'm glad you enjoyed the quietness of your walk. Sometimes just the sound my shoes makes, settles me. Great coffee shop observations. Tie-dye guy makes me smile! Reminds me of the lat 60's and early 70's! PEACE!

  12. I don't usually walk with my iPod - I love the sound of the birds and wind in the leaves. But then, I spend work days in the city, so a little quiet is a treat. I sometimes think about all the people spending time on their phones and devices - when I see students on the campus where I work sitting near each other but focused only on their phones, I want to grab them out of their hands and say - here - talk to the person next to you! I guess it's just a different world...


Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)