When you live in an area where the temperatures have been above 100 degrees for several days, this is the most wonderful sight of all.
It's a wall of fog rolling in down Twin Peaks and into San Francisco. There is nothing more wonderful to this San Francisco-born girl than the see a fog bank like this.
We were meeting our Lamplighter friends for the 23rd observance of Gilbert's death. This year it was at a little French restaurant (not my suggestion!) across the street from Laguna Honda hospital, where my sister died (not that that has anything to do with anything...and it's not even a hospital any more...but whenever we pass by I always remember Karen).
I swear it was like being back in Paris again, really (except that the waiters spoke excellent English). There were ten in our group this year and we were seated, as usual, at a long table. (The problem with this arrangement is that you only get to talk to the people across from you and next to you. I don't think I've had a conversation with Jill at one of these shindigs in years!)
The first thing the waiter did was to put bottles of water and baskets of very crisp baguettes on the table. That was when I decided it was like being back in Paris again.
I ordered a salad starter, Willa and Henry had escargot, which came not in the traditional way, but packed inside a big marrow bone with some stuff sprinkled over them and around the bone. Very strange presentation, we decided.
Walt's soup came in a jauntily tilted bowl.
We made the traditional Gilbert toast, "oh it's you" and another for Adrian MacNamara, who had come to these dinners until his death several years ago. The toast was made for his wife's benefit. As I looked around the group, though, I realized that we are losing people rapidly. John was there without Jeanne; Roger was there without Darian. Made me look at Henry & Willa and Walt & me and wonder which would be the next surviving spouse!
Henry, Walt and I had duck breast for dinner which was delicious.
The thing that looks like a pancake is actually polenta with marscapone and then what tasted like brandied cherries on top. Very yummy.
Walt and I split a creme brulee for dessert. It was $7 and it wasn't nearly as good as what I had in France. It tasted like they'd added some sort of liqueur to it and the consistency was runny at the bottom, but it was still tasty, if waaay overpriced for the size
We stood around inside the restaurant keeping Marie company until her cab came to take her home. Will was already (at 9 p.m.) complaining that he needed to get home to bed and that he used to be able to stay up very late, but lately he's just getting very sleepy.
Jill had offered the same excuse when she left before everyone else. She's over 70 now and can't quite take the same level of partying that she used to be able to. All things considered, fairy revels are not what they were!
We've now been doing this for more years than any of us knew Gilbert, even Marie (and I suspect she knew him the longest). Each year I think about how amazed he would be to know that we were still getting together in his memory each year. This year we were joined long distance by Laurie, who sent a message from Florence wishing us all well.
It's a good tradition. I'm glad we do it. And since Gilbert died in July, the excuse to get out of the valley in search of fog is always a welcome distraction!