Sunday Morning in Harvard Square


It’s a gray, chilly day so far in Harvard Square. I was surprised to find a free table at Darwin’s Ltd., our neighborhood’s classic independent coffee shop with attitude. The frosted lemon scone is delicious, and the dark-roast coffee is satisfying and hot. Thanks to Shazam on my iPhone, I know they’re playing “Embraceable You” performed by Claude Thornhill and his orchestra. And next up is “Don’t Explain” by Nina Simone. Just right. “Never complain, never explain,” was the personal motto of a guy I knew in Providence, Rhode Island. He never allowed himself to be rushed, and he was a talented sculptor. That was 30 years ago, and the last I’d heard he had returned to Montana.

I’ll return to Denver tomorrow morning after a week of family visiting and tech support, along with checking in on the exterior house painting project at our home here. Darlene has been hosting a quilting workshop at the Denver digs. We celebrated our 27th anniversary by phone and TXT, which we both felt sheepish about, as if we were violating a Rule of Romance. Can this marriage be saved? It already has been, thank you, and one of its salvations has been the freedom we feel to pursue independent adventures from time to time.

I’ve shared my table with a woman who was looking for an empty seat. She’s reading a Kindle and must be about my age, because her font size is set at the one I use. She has no interest in conversation, and neither do I.

It’s a typical Harvard Square crowd here at Darwin’s. Most of the laptops are Apple, and all of the paper reading devices are The New York Times. The guy across from me wears pants frayed at the cuffs, and one of his striped socks was put on inside-out. Completing his hipster ensemble is a red pressed shirt of expensive-looking fabric. The girl at the next table listens to something in black earbuds and is working on a Mac with three books stacked in front of it. The one on top is titled Philosophies of Mathematics. The old wood floor has a couple of faded Orientals with scone crumbs on them. Stuffed leather chairs alternate with round marble-topped tables. The music has turned up-tempo and contemporary with “Blind” by Hercules and Love Affair Feat. Amazingly, three seats have opened up, so get here fast if you’re in the area! I bet there will be an app for that, if there isn’t one already: Coffee Shop Seat Finder.

As my tablemate leaves I ask how long she’s been reading on a Kindle. “A year,” she responds. “I still read books, but this is good for travel. My mother gave it to me. She’s 83, and she reads only on a Kindle.” So that’s probably a Bingo on my guess of her age, since my own mother just turned 82, and, as it happens, reads mainly on a Kindle, too. Now the seat at my table is free. I wonder who will join me next? At 11 a.m., business is getting brisk here at Darwin’s. I’ll be joining my parents in about an hour at the Sheraton Commander Hotel, next to the Cambridge Common, where George Washington took command of his troops in July, 1775. The sun is out, and the new arrivals have begun ordering sandwiches instead of scones.

It’s a fantastic combination, dividing our time between downtown Denver and Harvard Square. The rhythms are different but similar, and I feel quite at home in each locale. I’ll make a note to write a companion post from my favorite Mile High coffee shop, which happens to be a Starbucks in Writers Square. Enjoy the coffee!

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