these photos of the sunflowers growing in paige's garden remind me that i really was in california last week, that it wasn't just a dream.  that the wind was blowing through the valley and we were picking raspberries and snap peas off of the vines and eating them before dinner while lucy was saying that if we had a garden she would eat "way more" fruits and vegetables.  (note to self: let's just build a fence to keep out the deer.)

i need the reminder of the west coast air and the light and the peaches off of the tree before breakfast because we are home now, and the last three days has been all about unpacking and laundry and labels and repacking and saying the things that you might want to say to your children - about friendship and homesickness and good choices, about putting yourself out there and trying new things, and about the sharing of razors and how cheese makes their bellys feel - before you send them off for more weeks than you care to count.  

it has been thirteen hours since i measured them against the doorjamb with a pencil while being careful not to "mess up" their hair, and thirteen hours since they tried to pose for pictures and devolved into silliness; thirteen hours since we had to coax the dog out of the car.  it's been thirteen hours since they drove up the drive, and i am alternately loving the clean bathroom and hating that their beds are empty.

tonight dave and i went out for dinner to our favorite restaurant where it's hard to get a table, even on a weeknight.  but we went anyway, and there was this little hightop at the back of the bar - we sat there last summer on the night our children left for camp - right next to the wood-fired oven and the prep stations.  we were distracted by all of the goodness but we were together.  alone.  together (did i mention alone?) for the first time in more than a month, and it was all hellos and reintroductions and holding hands and early summer vegetable soup with a poached egg and plans and ideas and steak tartare and a whisky smash.

i was full before the end of the meal and we told linda we couldn't possibly have desset but she brought some anyway; a scoop of chocolate-mint sorbet that we forced ourselves to eat.  the chocolate was the tiniest bit bumpy, like it gets when you melt it from a bar and then chill it right away, and the mint was subtle and steady throughout each bite.  it was the sweetest part of the night by far - the gesture, the indulgence, the act of savoring the evening and the light and this day that is the beginning of something, the being together.