Filled with enthusiasm and considering himself as the most joyful of Sybarites, Paulo invited Monica to visit another one of the six wineries located on the long narrow Old Mission Peninsula. He picked one with a French name, expecting a lively glamorous atmosphere and an ample assortment of complex wines. The place was crowed with people of all appearances, who were rushing to the bar as if money was been given away. Monica and Paulo could barely find an open spot where they can be served with the complimentary libations. The bar man provided them with six tokens, like in a casino, to be used for selecting wines flights from a long list, some of them valued one token, others two. Paulo tried two of the wines, and somehow they brought to his mind the herbal reminiscences of the mouthwash and gargle liquid he takes in the mornings when he wakes up.

Disappointed with the last wine tasting spot, and hurried by Diana who was complaining of starvation, as usual every two hours, Paulo decided to immediately take the way to Petoskey, where they have planned to have dinner at the renowned restaurant Chandlers. Paulo was expecting to have his “spirited” compensation there, since the place was gifted with a well purveyed wine cellar. Since the autumn colors were scarce on both sides of the road, Paulo, like his daughters, lost interest on the route and start reading “The Economist”. This magazine has become both a blessing and a curse. It contains a lot of articles of interest, well documented, rivetingly written and impartial. But he has not sufficient time to read all of them, and if by chance he does, it is like submerging himself in a crash-course in economics every week.

 

Some snapshots of Paulo’s reading:

Brazil has the largest arable land in the world. It might displace US Midwest from being the major grain producer. Will USA became net food importer from countries like Brazil in the future? Paulo pessimistically speculated about this country’s future economy. US needs to make use of its material and spiritual strength, as was demonstrated during and after World War II when it saved the world from the frantic Nazi menace. And also needs to pull all of its invention capacity, the same that has created: the ubiquitous and liberating internet; the navel of the world which is New York City, as well as Harvard and all its gurus, and the minor replica of these two combined which is Ann Arbor; the jogging mania that has lasted for decades in spite of aerobics, zumbas and other jumping pseudo sports; the bittersweet jazz music that recreates itself every second; the independent Sundance film festival created by a former Hollywood celebrity; and the creamy and evanescent cheese cake, to mention a few. However, the same mind has to avoid creating: more dying cities like Detroit; the drugs never ending cravings that generates a never ending bloodshed and violence here and beyond the borders; the right to go shopping whenever for whatever; Hollywood and its capricious and fatuous creatures that are eroding the real models for an idol hungry youth; and the big and presumptuous trucks driven by lonely chauffeurs on the long roads which gluts, like a black hole, the earth fossil fuels.

Paulo was astonished when he read an article on how some global corporations were trying to promote fun at work. After all campaigns to prohibit drinking at lunch or any time, eradicate sexual harassment, protect diversity, etc., employees are extremely careful in their remarks about others and in avoiding any non-politically correct conversation. Weather, sports and kids pranks have become the most common subjects of conversation in the halls, in spite of the ever exciting politics, gossiping, or the new assistant’s appearance, which are definitively more fun topics. So, some companies have created special departments to foster diversion in the employees with, as per the article suggests, poor results. You cannot institutionalize fun, it is by default spontaneous and unpredictable, Paulo thought. You will be condemned to failure, as the communism that attempted to institutionalize solidarity; Paulo remembered reading this simple but plausible theory.

Midway between Traverse City and Petoskey, Monica made us stop at one apple orchard place. It was one of those typical stores where they sell everything from the actual fruit in all its hues to apple jelly and to apple butter, among other things. From apple pulp they make every dish you can think of. The store also offered a lot of traditional countryside mementos, which Paulo personally dislike because it brings to his mind the extremely boring peaceful and predictable life in a farm, only changed by the temperamental. Not to mention the annoying music, a mellifluous litany, that was filling every nook and cranny of the store, no way to escape from it. We besieged Monica, all the family bent on its knees, not to buy any food since nobody would eat it. She gave us the same old speech: “You folks always complain that I take a long time buying groceries, which, once at home, you are the ones who enjoy them the most and, by the way, do not ever thank me. And then, in a sort of retaliation, she bought a bunch of apple jellies, ciders and cakes, which, as we predicted, are currently, after four weeks since we made the trip, occupying valuable space in our fridge. They might be transformed, or fermented, to a soft of apple wine by now.

Finally, the pack made it to Petoskey. All, very famished, hurtled to Chandler restaurant. It is a charming place, like a small and cozy rustic cabin, although it has a very limited amount of tables. The server that attended us, a kind of attractive and fine coed, instead of a dinner menu, seemed to be offering the gateway to heaven. The food was great, but the bill was also upscale. Paulo did not regret it, however he was not that thrilled after paying the bill.

A chilly and windy to afternoon said good bye to them in Petoskey. The sun was setting when they departed on the way back home. Precisely at the time when the road and its surrounding hardly reveal to the driver eyes, not used to that limbo between the appearing dark and the lights emanated from other cars.

Around Grayling, the night has completed invaded the sky. Monica, in a thoughtful mood, trusted the road completely and just let her car advanced smoothly on the safe highway, through the darkest of the nights. The rest fall in Morpheus kingdom and woke up only when the car was entering the garage.