It is cold; it is gray; it is wet. I clip the leash on the little dog, and we venture, in the lightening morning, out into the front yard. She darts, confused, from spot to spot, looking up at me, imploring, keen to get out of the rain. Finally she finds her place, takes care of business, and tugs me toward the door.
I kick off my duckies and shrug out of my jacket, which is sodden. When I rouse James and hurry him through breakfast, so we can—on this last Friday before the first of the month—take care of banking, pick up prescriptions, and fuel up the car, I wear my raincoat. It, at least, is dry.
Rain beats against the windshield; the wipers squawk and complain. We plot our route efficiently, accomplish job after job, and head home where it is dry and warm.
I trade my black sneakers for penny loafers, change into my off-white blazer, drag a comb through my hair, holler goodbye to James, and head out for what has become a lovely monthly ritual. I am meeting three friends in the parking lot of a big-box hardware store, an easy launch onto the road that will take us to Granville. There, we’ll check out a new restaurant, and we’ll meet two more friends who’ve driven in from Columbus.
I feel my jacket sleeve: still damp and cold. And then I think to look out the window. I realize it is snowing, hard little pocks of snow that hit the pavement with a ‘chishing’ noise. I open the closet, and I pull out my winter coat.
Linda and Judy are parked in the very last row of the parking lot, cars warming. We all grab phones and text frantically, and Susan’s car appears, surging up from right in front of the store itself, where she’d actually been transacting business. We bundle into her SUV and begin catching up on all that has happened since our last meeting.
And we complain about the weather. “Snow on Good Friday!” we all snort in disgust, relaxing into the gentle heat of the car, comparing notes on the just-past snowstorm, commenting on the irony of that first day of spring event. The thirty-mile drive melts away.
Becky and Karen have staked out a table for six, tucked into a corner by a window. Karen and her husband Tim know the restaurant’s owners. The wait-person is Karen’s former student, Rachel. She brings us water, brews up a fresh, wonderful pot of decaf, and lets us talk our way through deciding what we’ll order.
Linda has had to cancel her extended family Easter because her daughter-in-law has a nasty case of the flu (The soup today is chicken tortilla. Don’t the cheese strips sound good?) Susan has wonderful news to share; her Sara has just found out she’s a Fulbright scholar. Sara will do research in Finland for a year before starting her graduate studies. Susan and Tom will visit her in the spring.
Judy and her husband will be flying out to Arizona in a couple of weeks; they’ll rent a motorcycle and explore, revisiting favorite places and seeking out new adventures. (There’s a pick-two option—soup or sandwich and a salad. Soup sounds good as the snow falls!) Becky and Karen both have photos to share—Becky’s, from her magical Valentine’s Day trip to the newly refurbished hotel where she and her husband, Greg, spent their twentieth anniversary. For this visit, a special re-opening event for a select group of couples who have a romantic history at the resort, she and Greg searched out vintage dress clothes.
Becky’s dress was beaded, flapper-style, and her shoes were gem-studded. Greg’s 1930’s tux had a cummerbund and snowy white shirt; he wore white and black patent leather dress shoes. People kept going by and nudging him, Becky told us; “Nice shoes!” they’d say. Her pictures bear evidence of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
(Fruity grilled cheese: that sounds interesting! I wonder if I can get an appetizer as a side for my salad?) Karen is taking a photography class at a downtown college; she pulls up an incredible photo of a dove just rising into flight. The color, the movement, the glint in the bird’s eye: amazing.
Rachel comes and takes our orders, and we talk: six retired women discovering the wonders of life after career. The ticky snow taps the windows; Rachel hovers with fresh pots of coffee, and she slides plates in front of us. We eat, talk, laugh.
By the time we reluctantly push our plates aside and gather up our go-boxes, the snow has stopped. The sky is a sulky gray. We take out our calendars—paper and electronic—and juggle schedules to plan our next outing. The ride home slips by swiftly; we disperse in the parking lot, heading back to our separate lives.
I swing by and get James; there are a few more errands to run, and he is an agreeable wing man. The pavement is drying; only a few puddles linger from the morning rain. The snow didn’t stick on the saturated ground.
Greta and I head out for a longer walk; she sniffs frantically. At home, I boil an egg and chop veggies, defrost some peas, and open a can of tuna. I take the leftover penne pasta and mix up two salads—one without tuna for Mark, and a batch with tuna for me. Dinner will be simple: grab and go.
And Mark comes home and we fill plates and pour water and gather at the table to compare notes from the day; to slit open the mail that sat, ignored, until this moment; to firm up the menu for Easter dinner. And it’s just chilly enough, we agree, to warrant lighting the living room fireplace.
Before I sink into the cozy chair with my book, a new mystery from a favorite author, I give the dog her meds and take her out one more time. And the world is cool and fresh and bright: a friendly evening sun breaks through the clouds. We meander, Greta and I; she sniffs, quivering, her arthritic legs shaking with excitement, as birds shrill and squirrels scurry about. It has turned out to be, after all, a beautiful day. Finally, we turn back toward home, toward a fire and a good book and a restful night after a hectic week full of things unexpected.
Good Friday in Ohio: rain and snow and glowing sun. A cloud-lowering day that fulfilled its threat, and then, relenting, let go and let the sun in.