I’m sitting in Bollo’s, the coziest coffee shop in Blacksburg. It’s small and cramped, and filled with sounds of clattering crockery, hissing steam, and the barista asking, “Your regular?” to half the people who walk up to the counter. Bollo’s is where writers come to write, students come to study, and friends come to chat about their other friend who’s trying to get in shape for backpacking so filled his daypack with small, hardwood logs on a recent hike. “What I wonder is why he didn’t fill it with something useful, like maybe all of our food and water,” said one of them, and they all laughed.
I’ve gotten to a stopping point in the garden. All the mulch is spread, and my body needs a day off from physical exertion. I am thrilled to have the excuse of a rainy day to take a break. I took this whole week off to take care of spring garden chores — pruning, mulching, cutting back the wild grass patch, clearing out low branches that I have to duck under and that scratch my face when I mow, taking all the old brush to the curb for the town’s spring cleanup — but it’s only Wednesday, and the rain has driven me inside. Since I can’t garden, I decided to treat today like a real vacation day. What would I do if I were somewhere else for vacation and not at home?
I’d find a coffee shop and treat myself to a baked treat and cup of coffee someone else made.
So here I am, my umbrella dripping at my feet, and my notebook, cappuccino, and blackberry scone spread before me on a tiny square cafe table that is sturdy and does not wobble. Bollo’s window looks out on a street that’s been closed to motor traffic since the pandemic began. Sectioned off by long aluminum planters, black iron cafe tables drip where cars used to drive. Inside the cafe, a long, backed bench runs along the window, with four small tables spaced in front of it. The other solo patrons at the tiny tables on either side of me sit on the bench with their backs to the outside. I sit in a chair facing the window instead. I like to watch the rain splash and the people walk by, one hand shoved in a pocket and the other holding an umbrella.
The bell on the door jingles every couple minutes. Once inside the dry cafe, people stop immediately at the bakery case filled with scones, muffins, and round domes of freshly baked bread, just like I did. I like listening to them decide which treat to get. I like the sounds of spoons clinking, newspapers rustling, and voices murmuring.
But my plate now only has crumbs on it, and I’ve drunk the last of my cappuccino froth.
Outside, the cherries are starting to blossom in soft pink, the daffodils nod bright yellow in the rain, and I wonder what other new colors might be emerging right now. I’ve got an umbrella. Virginia Tech campus is across the street from where I sit, and college campuses always have pretty landscaping. When I’m out of town, I like to walk, so I’ll give my table up and head out into the rain.