On a day such as this, a day that starts in the arms of your best friend with little prospect of what the day may hold; these days are the ones you can’t put a price on.
Amber usually wakes up a good thirty-plus minutes before I do. She usually pulls out her iPhone, plays her next word in our never-ending series of Scrabble games; checks her email; and explores local groupons all before I open my squinty, gopher eyes. Once she notices that I have stirred awake, we’ll fold into each other for a while before getting on with our day.
“What do you want to do today?” I asked her last Sunday while still trying to find the urge to get out of bed.
“Well…” she says, “I was thinking we could head out to Bodega and get some clam chowder.”
“Bodega?” I say as if it is some far away land, despite being a short 30-minute drive.
“Yeah, why not?” She responds, “What else are we going to do today?”
And so, after showering and readying ourselves, and after 30 or so minutes devoted to waiting for her landlord to fix a leaky faucet, we set out to the coast on a brisk, sunny Sunday afternoon.
Meandering through the lush, green Petaluman hills, and onward through the dry, coastal grasses we wind our way out to Spud Point Crab Company, located on the eastern shore of Bodega Head. Opened in 2004, they have won the local title of best clam chowder seven years in a row. Seven years! There is always a line out the door, but while waiting and deciding what to order, you can enjoy the wafting smells of crab being boiled in a large pot, and watch as they are scooped out, bright orange and steaming, and transported into the kitchen to be pulled apart and mixed with mayonnaise, herbs and spices, and spooned between a crunchy French roll.
There are a handful of picnic tables, which encourage getting cozy with your neighbors. We didn’t chat with the older couple to our left, but people watching is always sufficient – listening to her bicker at him about his additional purchase of a pesto bagel to go along with their crab rolls AND clam chowder.
Amber made the mistake of ordering the red chowder, whereas I ordered the trusty standby, white (because of it’s award winning status). To be fare it was Amber’s first time at Spud Point, while I am a repeat visitor. However, I did remind her, “seven years! Seven years they have won.” Needless to say, when you go, get the white, not the red. You’ll be happy you did.
The chowder is seriously the best I’ve ever tasted. Filled with a generous helping of sweet and tender clams and potato, it is slightly thickened with cream and laced with roasted garlic, with speckles of black pepper, dried thyme, parsley, rosemary and oregano. (From what I could detect)
We enjoy a warming bowl along with bits of bread, watching as the tables fill and numbers are called out. As each customer takes their first bite, we listen to the oohs and aahs. I’m telling you, this chowder is legit!
Everything seemed to slow down while we were there. From the time we ordered to the time we left, it felt as though we had been there for more than an hour, but it had only been a short half hour. It’s easy to get lost in the smells of the sea, and the spoils of a well-spent trip to the coast, and the chatter of seagulls, and the pleasures of an adventure.
We move from chowder to wine, driving to the center of Bodega Bay and stopping at Gourmet au Bay. This little gem is one of my favorite places to come on a lazy day. You can choose a flight of any three wines from the list for a very reasonable $9, and sit out on their deck that overlooks the bay. Cheese plates are also available, but after a rich helping of chowder, we stuck with just the wine. Again the time slows, and slips away from us as we bask in the warm winter sun, sipping on our shared selection of Pinot Gris, Sangiovese, and Orange Muscat.
A quick stop at the taffy store next door so Amber can get her candy fix, and we’re back on the road toward home.
The reason I tell you this story is because just a few days ago, I was offered a job that paid more than what I’m currently making, and was a seemingly nice alternative to the hospitality field. The trade off was the days I worked, and the hours, which, when I stopped to think about it, didn’t really make sense in the scheme of my lifestyle. Taken away would be my valuable time for writing, and days such as these that I get to spend with Amber.
Despite everything, I have chosen my art over large salaries and enticing jobs. And I have to remember that when I am tasked with making important occupational decisions. I may struggle financially every now and then, but I would struggle even more if I couldn’t have sufficient time to write, and I couldn’t have one, full free day each week to spend with Amber. So you see, you can’t put a price on days like these. Spontaneous adventures with no plan except for a bowl of chowder, which can lead to wine, and taffy, and spotting baby goats on the ride home, and writing.