“Heart rendering,” as my wife would say. It is Labor Day, the last day of summer. And it’s raining. Overcast. There is no one on the beach at all. No adorable girls in bikinis to ask me for photos and autographs. No families to ask me to pose with them. “Nobody’s on the street, nobody’s on the beach. I feel it in the air, summer’s out of reach.” Great song. I know I say it every year.
I am so sad that summer is over here in Sandpoint. No more fabulous meals of prime rib at Trinity at the Edgewater, no adorable Bella and Rachel and Mary and all of the other waitresses and buskers. No more pasta at Ivano’s served by the superb crew there added to this summer by an adorable volleyball player named Sage. No more Bottle Bay Burgers with chutney served up with cloves to keep the bees away and bruschetta that we cannot stop eating. No more lightning trips to Ivan’s del Lago to get waited on by Jenny and Samantha and Chandler and the manager, Tim, as we did tonight under a spectacular sunset. All very sad.
I have been coming to Sandpoint for roughly 20 years and this has been the best summer ever. We got to spend a good chunk of it with our spectacularly good-looking Canadian friends, the Vissers. They are Dutch and extremely good-looking Dutch. (I am totally fixated on beauty.) The mother and two daughters are just living dolls.
We spent the last weekend here with our soul brother and soul sister, Ray and Jeanne Lucia. They have been through a tough time and we try to help them with our support and confidence -- and lots of steak and chicken. That’s over for now, too.
No more road races up to Priest Lake to Hill’s Resort, home of the world’s best spare ribs, most friendly proprietors, Lois, Terri, Scott and Craig Hill. That place is true magic and I will cruelly miss it.
No more running into the UPS store to send something that has to get there in a hurry. No more friendly service at the Post Office where I always see someone I know, usually Hannah Hempstead, ex-wife of the genius visual impresario Mark Story. No more dashing into Vanderford’s for newspapers and books.
It is so sad that I won’t see the fine druggists and clerks at the Sandpoint Super Drug, not Laurie, who was the prettiest girl at Sandpoint High School when my best friends here, Tim and Penny Farmin, were in high school, not my teenage checkout girl, the charming and beguiling Angelica. No more chocolate cake from the Safeway.
Most of all, no more feeling that I am in the safest, sanest place on the planet. There was a Fall Fest at Schweitzer Mountain, the local ski resort. It was yesterday and today and there were T-shirts for sale saying, “Keep Sandpoint Weird.” (Bootlegged from Portland.) “That’s funny,” my wife said when she heard about it, “because Sandpoint is the least weird place in the world.”
I am going to miss the Dairy Depot and their great milkshakes and cool kids hanging around outside and inside, and the Bonner Mall Cinemas, which have the best popcorn on earth, and polite, cheery people to serve it.
What will I do without the Farmer’s Market and the tall blond girl who sold me the four most delicious cupcakes I have ever had?
But I’ll miss Walmart, too. It has down to earth, helpful clerks, no attitude at all, and customers who look as if they have worked hard that day.
Most of all, of course, I’ll miss Tim Farmin and his wife, Penny, who have become indispensable pals. Tim is amazingly good company. He is as competent a human as there has ever been, yet he never brags, never boasts, just fixes what’s broken, guides me across the lake, and then tells me, “Well done,” when I park the Cobalt as he has directed me to. And lovely Penny, who tends her garden and gets to work about the time I go to sleep.
I’ll miss Scott and Bill and all of the other nice people who run the Seasons, and I’ll miss the Hertz people in Spokane and the Alaska people at the commuter area at GEG. I’ll even miss the TSA folks.
But summer’s over and I have to go back to school. “I want to thank you (Sandpoint), for giving me, the most wonderful summer of my life....” This is a paraphrase of a fifties song. Actually, some very romantic summers I had when I was young are in the running. But this has been a great summer, spent inches and feet away from my big wifey the whole time. I have missed Julie Goodgirl terribly and maybe some day we will take her up here and never return. But for now, back to L.A.
However, first, I have to go to Bonners Ferry, about 30 miles north of here, to speak at the high school.
I am going to tell them a few very basic things: your two goals in life should be inner peace and material security and the two usually go together.
I am not giving that speech until Wednesday though, so maybe I’ll just say, 1.) Education is key; 2.) Personality is even more key; 3.) Hard work resolves almost every problem; 4.) Forget alcohol and drugs for all time; 5.) Look sharp; 6.) Connections are everything; 7.) Don’t ever get angry at anyone in your circle of friends -- walk away, but don’t get angry.
I’ll tell you more tomorrow.
For now, I’ll leave you with a photo of the sunset tonight at Ivano’s del Lago in Hope. This place, this Bonner County, this Sandpoint, is home. I guess anywhere wifey is can be home, but this is double plus secret home. Far, far, far from Barack Obama's Amerika.