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Her World

Hits Near Home Base

March 01, 1987|JUDITH MORGAN | Morgan, of La Jolla, is a nationally known magazine and newspaper writer

I had an incredible urge to run away from home today, but, being sensible, I walked.

I walked away from the sounds of the city and the construction in my neighborhood, away from the telephone that was crackling and the fireplace that was not.

I took off with only a billfold in my pocket, telling no one of my destination because I did not know it myself. I hiked uphill for a block or two, then onto a quieter street.

I paused to pet a puppy that was being walked by a woman who reminded me of my late Grandmother Hattie. We chatted about the wind and the weather. I asked the dog's name. That is something I would do in Sussex. It felt good to take the time at home for the same sort of exchange.

I paused to admire a blooming yellow shrub, and, after studying its petals and stamen, I identified it positively as not a hibiscus. That is something I would do on an adventure trip with Society Expeditions. It felt good to take the time at home for the same sort of research.

Followed Gravity

I followed gravity to the bottom of a hill. The sun was full, so I took sanctuary in a Roman Catholic church of Spanish beauty; I had not seen it for years, except from the driver's window of my car on the way back from the grocer's. With its arches and tile work and bell, it seemed as serene as a mission in Mexico. I stopped in the church garden to suggest that a tourist remove a lens cap before taking a photo. She thanked me in Italian.

I wandered by a flower shop and a cookie stand and lingered for an espresso at a delicatessen that was rich with robust cheeses of Denmark and France. I wandered into a bookstore to plot some gifts and took the inevitable happy plunge through the friendship cards of Cathy Guisewite and Flavia.

Then I ambled across the street and walked beneath a tall arch of tusks. The lights were as mellow as in a tent camp on the bluffs above Lake Manyara. The smells were of leather and jute. I heard the drum beats of Kenya and saw the tall grass. In my khaki pants and shirt, with button-down pockets and epauletes, I felt as if I were in East Africa.

There were stacks of pith helmets, and globe-trotter bags of water-repellent Belgian linen. There were jackets and trousers of Egyptian cotton, and skirts of chambray and twill. There was a crisp, white Kenya pioneer's shirt that Karen Blixen might have worn on a good night at her coffee plantation while she spun long tales for close friends. Most of these classic clothes were in ivory, khaki, moss green or sky blue--four of my favorite hues. All were of natural fabrics.

Nothing Endangered

I asked about the tusks and was assured that nothing had been endangered. They were crafted of a fiberglass-type product, as were all the enticing props of this magic place.

I had ventured into Banana Republic, a branch of that wildly successful chain of travel and safari shops that is based in San Francisco.

Sometimes a short trip, such as mine today, is even better than a major journey: I returned refreshed, replenished, and ready to get on with the day.

The next time I run away from home, I might drive. There's this terrific beeswax candle factory and a Japanese vegetable farm less than an hour away . . . and a French country restaurant just 10 minutes beyond . . . and. . . .

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