Lovely Day at the Site

Right before I moved into my new digs, I decided to go sketch and paint our massive new church being built. That sparked the idea for a picnic. I texted the word about an outdoor lunch to other peeps. Result: lovely day at the site, resembling somewhat of a Middle East adventure.

Anna and Tim survey the scene

I picked up sandwiches and salads at the local Sugar Creek Country store deli, and beverages, then drove up in my trusty Toyota Matrix to the observation deck directly in front of the building site.

The Immaculata loomed above me. She basked magnificently in the early afternoon sun, her neo-romanesque architecture provoking the artist’s mouth to water.

I backed the hatchback in, near the observation deck, and laid out lunch on the wooden seating. Within minutes my mother came.

Then up walked my brother.

Then my sister.

And we ate, chatted, and watched the men working like little ants on the fasçade of the church.

The weather was good. Clear. Almost crisp. Perfect if one was in the shade. A little bright and warm if in the sun, which several of us were.

Another car drove up: my aunt had come.

15 minutes later, the patriarch, Grandad drove up.

The whole tribe was gathering at the site. 

Now, where to sit and still be comfortable?

Between all of our vehicles, we discovered we had several outdoor chairs, umbrellas, and a good pair of binoculars. We shared lunch leftovers with the newcomers as the rest of us settled into our chairs and popped open the umbrellas. 

Then the soporific clouds of luncheon digestion began to settle over mom and me. Eyes became heavy. Invisible hands pressed us to lay down upon a comfortable non-existing cool, soft surface and go to sleep. But Mom had things to do, and I wanted to sketch! Siestas were good, but at this moment sleep must not overtake us! 

“Coffee?” I asked.

“Can you make some up here?” Mia Mater inquired, hope in her voice.

“Welcome to La Cafè!” My coffee joint existed in the back of my handy-dandy hatchback. Ever since I moved off campus, stepped away from teaching and began job searching and trying to figure out the next step in life, I wanted to be more careful with the little money I had. But I loved coffee and tea, treating people, beautiful places, and all that frequently led to over-spending. 

So, I got in the habit of having coffee or tea outside my car in Bedouin style, inspired by my near east travels. In true Bedouin hospitality, I also resolved to invite whoever passed by over for a cuppa. Now, I was able to serve my own family!

Out of the back of my hatchback, I took a compact burner and fuel, filled my Bialetti with espresso kept in a jar, alongside containers of regular coffee, black and mint tea, and honey, and two white small mugs. 

Out came the matches.

Out came the gas, followed by the flame.

And soon, habemus espresso! I did throw the small travel kettle on the flame afterwards to have an Americano if Mia Mater wanted something more diluted, but the coffee was old enough -and burnt by the exposure of being in a car that constantly withstood Kansas elements- that any more dilution would have rendered the liquid Joe down to Folger level. Such sacrilege was to be avoided at all costs (my apologies to Folger fans -this is not meant to be a personal insult, merely an expression of personal preference).

While the water warmed to a boil within the aluminum walls of the Bialetti, we sat in a semi-circle, facing the vast majestic Romanesque stone structure rising above us. The cling-cling-cling of tools against stone, motorized lifts, and garbled workmen’s voices filled the afternoon air.

Anna sat holding an umbrella; she and Tim exchanged Teresa’s binoculars. 

I sat on my little Euro stool, sketching the scene; Mom and Teresa perched on the wooden bench. 

Grandad sat next to them, looking through his own pair of binoculars.

The Bialetti burbled that le cafè was ready to be poured, and doing so, I passed a cup of it to Mater. 

We two sipped our rejuvenating liquid from Arabia, and all of us soaked in the scene and sounds before us quite luxuriously.

Sitting there, in the sun, with our coffee brewed somewhat in Bedouin style, with our ‘parasols’ and binoculars looking down at the dusty building site, reminded me of scenes etched out by Agatha Christi on her husband’s archeological digs over in Turkey and Iraq. 

Rest assured,  no murder was had. There was no death by Coffee, or Murder in the Immaculata. 

Half an hour later, we dispersed and went upon our daily duties. But the micro-adventure right up the street from our own homes produced a “Lovely Day at the Site,” over our picnic sandwiches and outdoor coffee. A rejuvenating lark to be sure.

Thank-you so much for reading! Did this spark any micro-adventures ideas for your weeked?

Want to have your own Bedouin-style micro-adventures?

Try starting with this little burner (just grab the fuel from Walmart), tea kettle, Bialetti, or a riveting story from Agatha Christi!

(Note: when you click the above photo links, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Click, and you’re the best! )

Fun fact: These photos were taken on my lunch break in the parking lot while painting in St. Isadore’s Catholic Church on the K-State Campus.

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