DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE Dream, to Create, to Recharge Your Battery?


Readers of the blog know that my beloved and I have been traveling up and down this coast and others in search of the perfect place for us to live and create. Last week we returned to a familiar spot, a lovely retreat on the Monterey Peninsula where visitors can see black-tailed deer grazing among tall redwoods, rare shorebirds from the dunes, and experience rocky adventures above mystical coves while watching playful otters, seals and sometimes distant whales. One morning of our stay, I took a pass on the robust breakfasts prepared for guests at our retreat and made the short drive into old town Pacific Grove instead. I had read in my travel book about a very good combo coffee shop and bookstore, “The Works,” and wanted to check it out. Noted for evening poetry readings and concerts, morning seemed like a good time to explore the place before heading inland to do some research. And so it was. 

While the fog from the sea drifted away from the Victorian town where Steinbeck and others once roamed, my toasted bagel at The Works was a tasty raisin and whole wheat with cream cheese for protein. The chai latte was one of the best I’ve had. On a tip from one of our friends, I’ve been taking mine all soy, no water. Kudos to the coffee shop, that’s the only way they do their soy chais. I tasted the rich, not heavy, flavor of the brewed tea all the way through.
The ambiance of the big open living room reminded me of my first home. The Works sits on a corner lot, with a manicured miniature garden blossoming outside. You can see it, and a good cross section of the town, from a row of windows that stretch all the way along two walls of the shop to meet at the far corner of the room. For a visitor, I felt easily at home at The Works while the morning sun cast long easy shadows over the quaint coastal village as soft sunlight streamed in gently from every window. With my breakfast half-eaten, I pulled out my journal and began writing. Johnny Cash, James Taylor, Bob Marley, and other musical wonderfuls accompanied my musings.

The wall and window trimmings were cheerful oranges and limes mostly, highlighted by an artful collection of Asian-themed paper lanterns suspended from beams across the open-ceiling. The furniture included plenty of wooden tables and chairs which were comfortably worn-in, as well as two cozy leather love seats resting like metaphors of bear-hugs right in the center of the room. Another patron sat on one of the couches reading the paper, and another at a table. I took a table at one end of the windows so I could see everything going on inside and out. Another writer soon took a table nearby.

There was a concert scheduled for that night. But to my way of thinking, the real show was what was happening in the shop that morning, through a steady stream of locals who stopped inside, and in the low-key but very kind way the barista attended to each one, including me, helping me feel like one of them. 

One woman shared a coupon with the barista for the Pacific Grove foodies’ version of a Whole Foods Market in town—which she was so pleased to receive. An elder guy ducked in just to tell her a corny joke—the barista didn’t get it, then did, and was so sweet about it. Another woman forgot to have the customer loyalty coupon stamped the day before, and came by just to take care of that. The barista easily obliged; and the customer decided to get another coffee and sit a while before trudging on to work. Since I was having breakfast late and feeling light-headed after driving around a new town in a rental car, I was a bit foggy ordering my breakfast and then trying to get from the coffee shop to the adjoining bookstore, which wasn’t open yet—the hours were clearly marked but I had on my travel watch and hadn’t reset it from the last trip. The barista, who was most-probably accustomed to out-of-towners and folks who haven’t had their morning coffee, never made me feel as awkward as I might have in some other setting.  
Photos for this post courtesy of The Works. All rights reserved.
I returned on another day to check out the bookstore as well as the paintings and prints by local artists displayed and sold there. I had an afternoon snack at the coffee shop first. The barista was just as kind, and the chai just as perfect. The cheesecake was, well, it was wonderful. I should have gotten the barista’s name. You know, I always make a point of telling management about extra-outstanding workers. I missed an opportunity, twice. So before I strike out all together, I’ll make sure this piece gets to the owner. I’m sure they’ll know who this particular barista is. And I’ll tell you about the bookstore itself another time.  That’s a sweet part of this story for savoring later….

Monterey is an area that nurtures and energizes us. The Works is a new favorite place there. I'd love to read about some of yours because I'm always exploring and hope you are too. 

?  As the weekend approaches, here's a question for your journal, to discuss with others, or to add to the comments here: Tell about a favorite place you go, it could be real or imaginary, to dream, to create, to recharge your battery, or just to rest for a while and Be.