Finding Comfort Near the Sea
I find January to be an unsettling month; a time of in-betweens, of anxious pauses and long moments of melancholy. The holidays are over, and spring is still just a dream. The rains come down, and people hunker inside their houses. I hunker inside, too, but I pace the floors, feeling strangely restless and cross. This is the season of waiting, of seeds burrowing deep within the ground, slumbering patiently.
If only I could relax into it with greater ease. I feel a sense of shifting, of undefined changes swirling in the not-too-distant future. I toss; I turn; I wonder.
Around noon today, on my way back over the bridge from the restaurant where I spent the morning taking inventory and placing orders, I impulsively turned off at the Alexander Avenue exit. The wind was blustery, and the driving rain made a mockery of my windshield wipers. I had a distinct urge to be in view of the ocean.
I remembered reading a review about a restaurant in Sausalito called Fish, and decided to stop by. When I dialed 411, the man who picked up the phone told me to drive to the far end of the yacht dock area on Harbor Drive. Sure enough, there it was, tucked into a rather obscure corner.
The space is open and bright, with high ceilings and polished wood tables. Chalkboards on the wall display the specials. There is much on the menu that begs to be sampled, but as I was by myself, I couldn’t order with my usual abandon.
I settled on a cup of New England style clam chowder and a salad made with grilled calamari. “Fresh from Monterey Bay,” the man at the counter told me. “Small and delicious.”
While I waited, I sat near a crackling fireplace and looked out at the ocean, taking solace in its vastness.
The clam chowder was warm and full of potato chunks. The clams were pink and bouncy. I dumped the whole packet of oyster crackers inside and happily munched away.
My salad arrived just as I was finishing the soup. It was served in a deep bowl, a pile of baby greens tossed with shredded carrots and pomegranate seeds, all dressed in a perfectly balanced vinaigrette. The calamari lay across the top, purplish-red cone-shaped bodies with tangled tentacles like miniature fountains. They bore tiny black flecks of char from the grill. They were tender, with the slightest bit of chewy edge. They tasted of deep, dark water and the mysteries of the sea. I finished the entire bowl. I nearly picked it up and licked it at the end.
And drove the rest of the way back to Novato feeling the slightest bit more hopeful.