Dog Days of August

Last week sweat pooled on my cheeks while I was first and only waiting for a bakery to open in Seattle. August has been dry, the sun relentless in the Pacific Northwest. At 8:50 AM it was already too hot. I sipped the last of my coffee, wishing I had iced. My favorite neighborhood in Seattle holds not only this bakery, many divine coffee shops, the amazing Teacozy Yarn store but also the National Nordic Museum and best Farmer’s Market in town. With minutes to go until 9:00 I could already taste the first cut of their thick seedy rye loaf, piled high with heirloom tomato and smeared with mayo. Then, from behind the locked doors, I heard something shatter.

I peered closer to the picture window. No movement. Seconds later I saw a rack against the far wall tip over, heard metal rails fall. No human in sight. Should I knock and offer to help? Then something hit the wall and a bowl slid off the work table infront of me, flinging cornmeal across the cement floor. The sounds continued to escalate, metal ringing against metal. Not a human word said.

After a while I realized that someone inside was having a spectacular tantrum.

Funny that my very first response was a little bit of envy.

It has been a long pandemic. As the cacophony continued — five minutes past opening time, ten minutes past opening time — I felt complete solidarity with this person, yet to be seen. “Take your time!” I wanted to shout through the locked door, keeping my head down. Had someone not shown up to help? Did a batch of bread burn? Was it payday and the check late? But really, does any one of us need an excuse to throw things in August, 2021, still masked and another variant bearing down?

The way of the world has been one step forward, one step back, limping if you have a new hip, for seventeen months of uncertainty, fear and illness. The urge to throw things is completely understandable.

At 9:15 a woman came to the door, latched it open, set up an iPad on a small table, wiped her hands on her white apron, held up a finger and said sweetly, “be just a sec, takes the machine a minute to warm up.” All around her lay bowls, spoons, shards of baked rolls, overturned trays. She stood on a small hillock of flour.

I was so happy there were no apologies. I smiled, paid for my bread, and left.

I felt better, too.

Artichoke, gone to flower.