Missing You. Deli Dreams.

By Anita Garner

Everyone’s posting on social media about what they miss during quarantine, what they’re looking forward to when we’re allowed to mingle.  Some people say poetic things about giving and getting hugs and being out in nature. For me, it’s deli.

My friend, Karin Moss, and I are both deli lovers.  We share conversations about meals at our favorite delis from  years in the entertainment industry in L.A.  I don’t think it’s coincidence that I lived around the corner from Jerry’s Famous Deli in Studio City and a quick walk away from Art’s.

Now we’re both in Northern California eagerly awaiting the opening of a new deli in Sonoma County.  Full name:  Grossman’s Noshery & Bar.  We had lunch all planned but before we could catch even a whiff of a bagel, quarantine postponed our chat ‘n chew date.

Grossman’s is ready.  You can see them in there cooking up tantalizing stuff for pickup, but we’re not allowed inside yet. They occupy a corner of the historic Hotel La  Rose building in Santa Rosa across the street from Railroad Square where Peanuts statues stand, paying tribute to local genius Charles Schulz and watching over all that goodness.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown watch the building across the street
because that’s where the deli is.

Woodstock and Lucy probably dream of soup

When we’re free to roam, here’s how I see this going:   Bagels to start, then properly fortified, a swing through the Russian River redwoods to catch up at Howard Station Cafe in Occidental.  Overnight on the coast and back through the woods in time for a tall corned beef on rye at Grossman’s. Maybe a little something to take home. A perfect Sonoma County weekend.

Howard’s, Occidental, CA

Bonus view of side street next to Howard’s.

Until this can happen, we chat about whatever subject is at hand and one of us signs off with some version of “Can’t wait for our nosh at Grossman’s.”

******

 

It Might As Well Be Spring.

California wildflowers poster series from artist Gompers Saijo**

When Spring arrives, most people feel awake, alive, excited.  For me it comes with a twinge of melancholy.  Right now we’re in the flannel-to-flowers transition in Northern California which puts me in mind of a song, one that haunts me at unexpected times through the year, but always at the start of Spring.  And always this song brings to mind a dear friend who shared my love for this ballad. Yes, I’ve written about him before, and may again.  That’s what happens when you’re unforgettable.

Ed Wetteland was a keyboard genius in a giant body. He played most of his life in the Bay Area, in clubs and concerts, putting on the tux for big band gigs, working with just about everybody in music who came through The City.  When he wasn’t working, he wandered, with some of us in tow, into clubs down hidden alleyways in The City, sliding onto the piano bench, playing a little, slipping back out and on to another club. Everyone made way. Everyone knew Ed.  Mercurial.  Tender.  Then mercurial again.

Home was his country acre in Sonoma County where the other part of his life was spent coaching singers in his studio and holding forth on the deck outside his house in Sebastopol, indulging in very good wine provided by his Bohemian Club buddies, telling stories, stopping to name the notes played by the wind chimes and whistling back at birds.

We were friends from the first hello.  We had our little traditions.  Wherever he played, when I came in, he’d weave away from the song he was performing and slide into the bridge of one of my favorite songs, It Might As Well Be Spring. This bridge slays me.  Melancholy. Plaintive.

I keep wishing I were somewhere else
Walking down a strange new street
Hearing words that I have never heard
From a man I’ve yet to meet
 – Rodgers & Hammerstein

One Sunday Ed promised friends he’d play at their church in Santa Rosa.  He was distinctly un-churchy.  He insisted I come and he’d buy brunch afterward.  I arrived a bit late. Ed was playing a hymn.  I wish I could remember which one.   I didn’t think he’d seen me slip into a pew in the back, but obviously he did because he created a seamless segue from the hymn into the bridge above, and right back into the hymn.

He never recorded It Might As Well Be Spring, but here’s another favorite he played often. Sophisticated Lady comes from a recording session in the home of a friend. A few of us gathered in a wine country estate to hear Ed record some of his favorite songs at a spectacular Boesendorfer grand piano.

About this time of year, just before the official start of Spring, Ed would be on his deck, holding forth at length about flora and fauna and especially about California’s native plants.

Ed at Bohemian Grove

**Wildflower posters are available from California Native Plant Society