Plain packages offer the best gifts

Published 9:41am Friday, November 16, 2012

“And Spinx just started selling their pumpkin spice coffee,” I said, almost to myself, clearing the breakfast dishes from the countertop.

What finally gave us the kick in the keister that was needed to pick a date on the calendar to move across country and stick to it was a very routine afternoon, driving back from having worked my horses in Moorpark.

I was sitting in early afternoon traffic, as usual, my exit within sight, when the scream of police and fire engines could be heard ahead. I turned on the radio and found the local news station which quickly informed me that a man had entered the Jewish Community Center I normally passed on the way home and had shot five people and killed a mail carrier. The exit would be closed and a detour was given.

I had been experienced a lot of violence during my time in California: the riots, earthquakes, bank robberies, helicopters shining their lights through the bedroom windows at night, looking for suspects on rooftops. And I had also experienced the raw beauty of Big Sur and Carmel, 70 degree Januarys and sitting barefoot in the sand on Zuma beach, seeing pods of dolphins undulating nearby. But on this day, I was hot, I was tired, and I was brokenhearted to witness the aftermath of such senseless violence right in my neighborhood. Enough was enough.

“Well, it is kind of chilly,” said Paul, laying his I-pad to the side on the couch. “Let’s go get that coffee!”

Climbing, still in our sweats, into the truck, we trundled down the road, got our coffee, exclaimed over the flavor and drove home, pointing out the slant of the autumnal sunlight through the trees nearly at their peak of color.

Down the driveway, the fallen leaves from the sweet gums parted like the Red Sea as the tires rolled over gravel and the horses in the field, playful in cooler air, greeted us half way and cantered down the fence line before peeling off in explosions of twists and bucks.

Coffee from the gas station, autumn in the country; sometimes the very best gifts are the ones that come in the plain packages.

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