Walks done, trails hiked, showers finished, four of us – Jana, Joanne, Bill and I – piled into the car and headed to Woodstock for apple pie with cheddar cheese, a combination I had yet to experience. Tom and Larry stayed back to watch football and prep for Jana’s birthday dinner of escarole and shrimp Fra Diavolo; we had two loaves of Italian bread to soak up garlicky oil and tomato sauce. By the time we parked the car along the downtown street it was after 2:30; to our disappointment the restaurant serving pie was closed so we strolled the street, popping into one shop after another.
I’ve been to Woodstock a few times, remembered the store with the unique gifts, hanging mobiles and chimes, cool toys, funky jewelry. Jana bought me an alarm clock there years ago; if I remember correctly it looked like a decorative square box with a clock. When the alarm went off the top swung open, revealing a tiny plastic jazz band inside; I awoke every morning to them playing In The Mood. Over time it stopped working and we were never able to replace it (Jana had bought herself one and her’s stopped working too). Bill bought a wall calendar with photos of Italy for half price. I considered a jig saw puzzle of the United States but left the store empty-handed.
We, of course, stopped at the first cafe we passed. We ordered tea, Chai lattes, hot chocolate for the birthday girl and a giant chocolate chip cookie to share. We warmed up with our hot drinks; we looked at Bill’s calendar, started reminiscing about our trip. Jana’s been to Italy too, Joanne and Larry are planning a trip soon. The banter was easy, the laughs plentiful.
Our next stop was a local book store where we spent the bulk of our afternoon. We took turns spinning three wire racks, reading out loud from greeting cards that caught our eye. They were silly and dirty and hysterically funny. The books in that back corner of the store with the cards were silly and dirty too. Jana read two books by author Adam Mansbach that had me laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath, thought I might pee my pants. I don’t have kids but know that every parent deals with sleepless nights and fussy eaters; these books address both of these issues with truth and profanity.
At one point I turned to Bill and said, still laughing, “this is what we do when we get together.” Bill replied, “you guys act out a lot.” We do and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We purchased a book and some cards and thanked the proprietor for the entertainment.
After a quick walk through The Woodstock Inn, we made a pit stop at The Vermont Flannel Company where all things flannel are sold; shirts, pants, sheets, hoodies, wine sleeves, ties, hats. Bill was a good sport, modeled a buffalo plaid jacket at our request. Joanne posed him with a stuffed dog and we all agreed he cut a fine figure.
The sun was setting and we were due back at the condo. Back in the car we turned on the GPS and headed home where the dinner that Larry made would soon have us swooning. I never missed the apple pie, cheddar or no; Joanne made a berry crumble that we just about polished off in one sitting. Jana sang a song from her childhood, one that was referenced in one of those greeting cards and one that we all remember; we videotaped it and she sent me a copy so whenever I feel blue I can play it for a quick pick me up.
I arrived back in CT on Sunday, grateful to have celebrated with this crew.