A precise patriotism

Today’s plan kind of sucked. But I’ve had this rental car for too long already, so I’d drive one hour up to San Francisco Airport, then bring a good book or two for the four hour return journey, which I hoped would distract me from thinking about Europe’s public transit network.

Not the most patriotic start.

CA Santa Cruz beach 2

Vehicles? Sure, just not on freeways today, please.

But screw that, today is too beautiful to spend it all on buses. I extended the rental by three days and will return it on my way to this Saturday’s Thanksgiving Party. That’s right, Thanksgiving. Cuz I’m Amurikan, and we do Thanksgiving. And in August. Cuz I’m Amurikan, and schedules do our bidding.

Getting more patriotic by the moment.

So I drove my internal combustion vehicle to the gigantic grocery store, where individual aisles have more food than most entire stores overseas, and the building as a whole could be divided up into a neighborhood. I stood in front of a display case with at least two dozen different types of food ready and waiting, little yellow cards behind each meat dish displaying the independently certified “Animal welfare” rating.

Most were Level Three, meaning no crates or cages, “enriched environment”, and “enhanced outdoor access”.

CA beachI was ready for some enhanced outdoor access of my own, so I took a sandwich, chips, and a drink down to the beach. And not just any sandwich, it was smoked turkey, pepperjack cheese, bacon, avocado, spinach, and…was it “sun dried tomato” aioli? (All on a Dutch Crunch roll, which no Dutch person has ever heard of, because we’re Amurrika, we’ll tell you what you eat.) The chips: unsalted potato goodness, cuz we offer that here. The drink: kombucha, cuz we offer that too.

And they say America has no cuisine of its own. I’ve never seen a sandwich like that anywhere else, and here they’re in the bloomin grocery store.

On the path down to the beach I helped a lady call the phone number on a lost dog’s tag, then we all chatted up a lovefest when he showed up to collect Sammy, whose golden retriever smiles were wide and juicy.

Americans are nice.

CA beach lunchOne opalescent mussel shell was sunbathing where I sat down, and behind me played four year-old Taylor, all blond hair and enthusiastic statements, under the watchful eye of his grandma and grandpa. (Yes you literalists, they had one eye, it was a gorgon family.) He cajoled grandpa into filling a sandcastle bucket with water so he could make cereal (Raisin Bran!), though by the time they got back it was ice cream (chocolate!).

I ate my sandwich with sun on my shoulders, amid a pleasant scatter of affable folk who didn’t notice the dolphins cruising east, the otters sliding west, or the pelicans diving straight ahead south, but did see the seal slurking around every which way just offshore. Taylor announced that it was the mama seal.

Perhaps “patriotic” is not the right word, but it’s good to be back.