Heaven on Earth
I'm in lush, wooded, thickly forested Woodside, California. The trees, dense and thriving, are not confining, merely props in a play that I hope runs forever. They surround me like an adoring redwood audience, Bic lighters aglow, poised for my encore.
The lady in my life and I have just finished our pre-dinner dish, Oysters Rockefeller, washed down gently with a crisp Sonoma Chardonnay. I have shucked the oysters myself, wisely leaving the actual baking of the mollusks to the gorgeous brunette currently keeping an eye on the broiling Porterhouse steaks in the kitchen. I have assisted throughout the process of this rather simple meal, and though playing the stereotypical male role of second banana, she is quite pleased with my performance, both in and out of the kitchen.
We are happy. And in love. It is forever.
Early September in the heavenly San Francisco bay area means almost flawless weather. The sky, though visible only in snippets through the fragrant wings of green, is bright blue. Sunset is at least an hour away. As I take a sip of wine a glimpse of sky appears. The sliver of blue is painted with a cloud design that appears to have been flung from the tip of a wet paint brush, for it resembles a foot print. As if God, on his daily jaunt about the universe, had crossed our little haven, not bothering to stop, for he saw what I saw. We were okay.
He had continued on.
My new bride loves me and I her. We are considering children. She has made it clear we will pursue, fervently, that desire later this evening. Her every gesture insinuates that a physical manifestation of our urges will be played out.
Van Morrison sings a hymn of silence, his buttery brogue wafting out of the stereo speakers and into the forest like the rich aroma of a good apple wood fire.
Margaret approaches, her eyes sparkling black pools that reveal much more from near than far. Her thick black shoulder length hair falls in fashionable wings framing a face I have ingrained on my soul, a face that visits my nightly dreams and heroically quells my demons.
A corkscrew and a bottle of Zinfandel are proffered. Without comment, she kisses me and transfers her cargo to me. Our eye contact is alive with unspoken allure. Our chemistry is palpable. I watch her return to the kitchen, her barefoot retreat somehow rendering me, momentarily, void of reflective thought.
Our deck extends from our home into a natural amphitheater. Ancient redwoods loom above as the needle-padded earth below slopes down a ravine that leads to an unseen, yet often heard, creek. This evening, a mere trickle of water, source unknown, can be heard gently negotiating the rocky creek. Van chooses enlightenment as his next subject.
The table on the deck is set with fine china. Two crystal wine goblets wink at the now fading sunlight that filters through the trees and dapples the auburn cotton table cloth. Four long-stemmed candles housed in yet more winking crystal and bunched closely together, serve as the centerpiece. I light them in anticipation of both the coming feast, and my wife, who is simply delectable in candlelight. The flames bend in the direction of the gentle breeze, as if in escape, but do not extinguish.
I watch Margaret approach with two thick steaks, medium, accompanied by two baked potatoes, already split and buttered and sprinkled with grated jack cheese and ground black pepper. Somehow, my love has managed to also carry a small plate festooned with two generous slabs of garlic bread, topped with melted Provolone cheese and chopped scallions.
When she has found room on the table for the plates, she lowers her little-black-dress clad self into the chair opposite me, grins the grin of a true winner, and raises her wine glass.
I go to her. I kneel and clasp her hand. Eye contact brings tears to my eyes, for I am not a man who fails to appreciate my good fortune. I tell her I love her, kiss her hand and rest my head momentarily in her lap. She strokes my hair softly.
She knows, instinctively, that no words are necessary. Her gesture to me, and herself, sits before us. Ready to be devoured.
I return to my chair, realizing I will have two feasts this evening. I raise my wine glass.
"May every night be like this, forever."
"If you're able," she says as the candlelight reveals the tawdriest of twinkles in her eyes.