Tis the season. In Berkeley.

Know why I love living in Berkeley? Because everyone this morning around town is wishing each other a Happy Winter Solstice.

It is, after all, the next holiday. And an obvious one, since children all over town are up well before dawn because the damned planet is conspiring to remind us how completely in control physics is and parents are not. I’m hoping the solstice is soon because I want my sunrise back to sometime before lunch. Channukah’s almost over. Christmas is almost a week away. Next up? Solstice. And around here, it is another excuse to be nice to each other. It’s not L.A. or Boston at the CheeseBoard, I can tell you that. It’s friendly happy time. You’d think all these secular humanists actually treated people with respect despite their blatant heathen lifestyle.

Happy Winter Solstice!

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Hopes and dreams and cheese

Peanut’s list, at three years and two months, of things he would like to be when he’s big, has not changed a whit since three years and one month. So I think this is really it. I’m looking into colleges. And since he wanted some that need college and some that don’t, and he unwittingly stumbled upon the perfectly balanced list (in his order, verbatim, except for the lack of k/g and r sounds):

Fire fighter
Nurse
Worker Who Drives Big Trucks
Astronaut
Farmer
Police Officer
Tea Maker (“at one hotel because people don’t have their teapots with them at hotel”)
Cheese Maker

I told him I would totally come visit every day at work if he were a cheese maker. And I would.  I also think that’s the best freaking job I’ve ever heard, and one of only six I haven’t tried.

Yet. ‘Cuz he needs to apprentice in the family cheesemaking business before going to some Continental cheese college on scholarship, right? Right. Gotta go get a sheep, goat, and cow. And we have to move to Pt. Reyes to learn from the Cowgirl Creamery folks.

Does Cowgirl Creamery offer an internship  for three year olds? Is there a cheesemaking  magnet school nearby? Formaggio Kitchen scholarship? CheeseBoard preschool?

Can’t we just live at The CheeseBoard?

The center of my sense of home and community is The CheeseBoard Collective on Shattuck. Living near there formed some of the most important pieces of who I am, and visiting now brings back a flood of revelations, realizations, and nine-plus-senses pleasures that make me happy to my core.

So I took Peanut there.

He’s been before, but this time we went to the store/bakery and to the pizza joint. The latter is not at all the CheeseBoard where I lunched countless afternoons in the ’90s and ’00s. It’s bigger, since they took over the shop next door and expanded with more tables (shock), a bathroom (gasp), and a full area for the musicians.

The pizza of the day was roasted cauliflower, caramelized onion, mozzarella, cheddar, chive, and garlic olive oil on the trademark sourdough crust. It was gorgeous and drippy and wonderfully flavorful. But I’ve rarely had a bad slice there.

The band was the California Honeydrops. They sunk their teeth into a soulful performance and totally captivated my son.

So we ate, me a slice of heaven and him a cheese roll from the Collective. We listened to the blues. We watched the locals and newbies, alike. We basked in the glow of the new paint, the cheerful tile, and the clean bathrooms.

And he said to me, of my favorite place in the world, (except my aunt and uncle’s house at Thanksgiving), “this place make Peanut happy!”

I cried. “Me, too, bug. This place make mommy happy, too.”

I love you, CheeseBoard family.