It was unusually humid this morning after a weekend of even more unusual weather for September: lightning with vigorous thunder, and brisk showers. Tumbled clouds graced the blue sky; remnants of Hurricane Linda, somebody said. I was walking to BART behind a young woman in tight jeans.  I am not the most observant of persons, but I couldn’t help noticing how the eyes of most of the men she passed were yanked in her direction, as if on a leash. Even the ancient mariner sipping from a paper cup outside Adelita’s Café cocked his head as if he still had plumage.  Guys, I thought, it’s not even 9 AM, but in the jungle, there’s always the roar of the loins.   One guy passing dropped a wicked phrase into her ear as if that would make her lift the gaze she kept fixed on the sidewalk 10 feet ahead.  Not a chance.

Something in the air made it feel like a lucky day, and sure enough, as I descended the station steps the train arrived, PLEASANTON, my direction.  I was on my way to have a Tarot reading from my friend Isabelle.  Yes, I know, Mom if you’re reading this, you’re wondering what’s with the foolishness, but think of this, you love to play cards and there are times, (can’t you feel it?) when luck coats your fingers like talc and you’re in a zone. I’m talking about intuition or insight or whatever you want to call it, some connection with the deeper currents that is a gift, and Isabelle has it in spades, or whatever the equivalent of spades is in her deck, the esoteric Tarot de Paris.  (Isabelle Choiniere-Correa,

I’ve had one of her readings before, about 5 years ago.  The issue was (surprise!) relationships.  One in particular.  I wanted a weather report.  I drew 5 cards, and the message was, UNSETTLED, NO, A SLIGHT CHANCE, HOW ARE YOU AT WISHFUL THINKING, and FERGIDDABOUTIT.  Something like that.  The trouble with Isabelle, sweet as she is, is that she gives you leeway to go ahead and make your own mistakes and see them as preparation for something better.

Fruitvale Village, a large sign announced above the plaza near the station where I disembarked, as if there was a need to identify the intention to be folksy and down-home, but never mind, the place was surprisingly congenial even at that early hour, with custodians in uniforms tidying up from the weekend; a there there in Oakland, at least a few square blocks of it.  I was going to buy flowers but the flower shop wasn’t open yet, so I ordered a scone and a cup of coffee and sat at the nearby café until Isabelle arrived.

The reading, which took place at her house, was as insightful and suggestive as my previous one.  Certain words resonated in uncanny ways.  What was it about? Relationship, if you must know. Again.  I know, Mom, what you’re going to say.

After it was over, we went out into her and her husband Mark’s garden.  When she bought the house, the yard was a sloped, badly maintained weed patch, and now it is a terraced paradise with three apple trees, an olive tree, a grape arbor, a tomato patch on one side and a vegetable plot on the other.  The apples are Anna, Fuji, and Gravenstein, and each tree looks robust.  “It was you who suggested apples,” she said.  I was happy take a bit of credit.

And take home a paper bag full of ripe tomatoes.  They were, and continue to be, delicious.  Did you know, dear Reader, that, botanically speaking, a tomato is a berry?  I didn’t think so.


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