When the wind is fierce and furious after the rain has drenched the earth, root systems give way. This happened the weekend of my son’s wedding near Seattle. Towering trees toppled like toothpicks. A wide swath of cities lost electricity. At the last minute we changed the venue of the wedding, of the rehearsal, of the lodging…and informed all the guests. Without electricity! Flights were cancelled, motels were dark, fuel was scarce, it was a mess. My siblings and I took refuge at The Moore hotel in downtown Seattle. This photo (my sister Margaret is missing) documents our stay.
The morning of the (evening) wedding, we had a parenthetical block of time to spend together. We strolled down to Pike Place Market. It remains, five years later, one of my favorite memories. After 48 hours of adrenaline overload, we relaxed, laughed at the fishmongers tossing salmon across the way, sampled scrumptious food, admired the amazing produce and flowers. We divided into clusters as we browsed the market.
Suddenly, my sister-in-law Val appeared out of nowhere, grabbed my hand, and yanked. That it was urgent for me to follow her was apparent; why was a mystery. No time for words, but pulsing with excitement, we dodged other shoppers, threaded our way around obstacles, ran up stairs, careened across the promenade and skidded to a stop. I looked around.
Business was slow in this section, nothing obvious met my eye. Simultaneously confused and apologetic, I looked at Valeri for a clue. She discreetly nodded to her left. I followed her gaze. There was nothing to see! Well, there was one customer paying for a purchase, one vendor accepting payment, and a whole lot of counter space. The customer was just an ordinary Joe: orange crocs, baggy pajama pants, red hair in a ponytail, and a down vest which expanded his already expansive chest. Panting for breath, I searched the room, trying to see.
Next thing I know, Valeri is approaching the guy, puts her hand on his arm. He glances at her. “Thank you. Thank you for your work. I appreciate it immensely.” He mumbles a reply, we turn and walk away. As soon as we got out of sight, I turned on Val. “What was that about?” The ordinary Joe we saw was a world famous chef with a TV show of his own and a restaurant in New York. I don’t get the Food Channel, so the magnificence of the meeting was lost on me.
This summer Valeri and I were visiting.
“Oh, Valeri, you won’t believe the mileage I’ve gotten out of the time we were in Pike Place Market and saw Emeril. I’ve told that story to every foodie I know.”
“Mario,” she corrected. “It was Mario. Mario Batali.”