birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

A Break From the Pace

I'm drinking a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, chilled, but warming quickly even as the sun sets over the top of the building. The notes are mostly of melon, some peach maybe, with a little hay on the finish. Two other homeowners are sharing a bottle of rosé, French, and the third has opened a bottle of beer, Stella Artois. The drinks are cappers to a busy day as we sit in the building's open-center courtyard, the evening breeze working its way through the open spaces.

The glass-top patio table, with frilled crepe-fringed umbrella, befits the beach setting, and an adjacent fire pit, blue stones within, is ablaze with flames wicking from side to side. The deep-blue clock wall of the spa/laundry room behind that, with its 15-minutes-lagging retro-styled face shows the sun dwindling. As the sun goes down, the angle of light rises along the wall, closer in spurts to the red roofline.

Inside the courtyard, other tenants, home late from work, clack across the gray contoured-surface walkway, coming in from the beach-facing entrance after keys rattle in the mailboxes and the aluminum compartment doors are slammed shut. As the outside door and courtyard door entrances swing open and closed, we get the rolling shusssh of skateboard wheels on pavement, snippets of laughs from people on their way to the next-door brewpub, barks from dogs being walked along the beach path or to/from Rosie's Dog Beach about a quarter-mile east of our condo complex.

It's rare that all four of us are gathered on a weeknight when there's not an HOA meeting. With work schedules and other commitments, getting everyone in the same place without much notice just doesn't happen. We're not friends really, but elected reps with an appreciation of our differences, and we share an appreciation for the community and a desire to improve the property and quality of life. Wine and a deep fondness for all things Europe — long meals, evening conversation, a less hurried way of life — is one notable bond, prompting the sharing of memories, recent travels, maybe wistful longing for as-yet-unvisited destinations.

The condensation on my glass is even in its beading across the bottom third now, and I have to disturb the pattern with my fingers and thumb to take a sip. Across the table, the glasses of rosé are being refilled. The metal cap on another Stella is snapped off and tossed into a box.

It rattles in one of the empty wine glasses held there, awaiting anyone who might happen along to join us.

Reunion

One Guy, at His Desk, Eating Lunch, Waiting