Hanging Out in Rockford: Emotional meanderings in the manner of Van Morrisson

‘The first night of spring’

I sit in my apartment listening to the crowd. Van Morrisson rings through the floor, through the Douglas fir, tongue and groove. J. L. Clark lived here. His son Lewis was born here. In those days, you could see my friend Jon’s house from here; it was owned by the mayor. The president of Rockford College lived next door to him. The Irish Rose was the Robinson Clark hardware. Norm Robinson lived next door, over what is now the Bacchus dining room.

I wander downstairs. We have a wine class for the junior college tonight; it is wines of South America. Miguel has made mole and ceviche. Troy has made some steak skewered on sticks. Everything tastes really good. I try the mole before anyone. I love mole. The Mexican boys laugh at me because I like the mole so much. I walk to Little Italy and sit with a glass of wine.

When I get back, Megan is already at Medicine Man Studios across the street, where she has been teaching the class. I walk in and sit on the floor. She has a chardonnay she is serving first, so I run back to the restaurant to get the ceviche. The ceviche is made with Chilean seabass. Everyone loves it. It goes perfectly with the chardonnay. Megan talks a lot about pairing food with wine.

We drink the other wines and talk. Two of the wines are from Chile. The South American wines are bargains. Then class is over, and everyone moves across the street. Kelly is sitting at the bar when I get there. I walk up to her and put my hands on her back. I can tell by the way she responds that she is tense, and I try to help her. I can really feel her problems, and I am able to make a difference.

I sit with a group of women from the class. We talk, and we really talk. Something is in the air, but I don’t know what it is. Megan asks me to rub her back too, and I oblige. Elisha comes in and smiles at me with a twinkle in her eye. Later I discover that she has left a message on my phone teasing me about me being the only man at this huge table of women. Then I get up and wander around.

Kelly is sitting at the bar, and I get to meet her father. They look just alike. She smiles when we all tell her so. Jon comes in, and he and Amy have made up. I sit at their table, and Amy is acting all coquettish. They leave together, all smiles and chummy. I have been watching all the women in the room, and I wonder aloud what is going on. Every once in a while there is a night like this. You can never predict it. I wonder if it is a full moon. I go outside to see the moon, but there is none. The sky is totally black.

I come back inside and say so. Kelly answers that it is the first night of spring. She says that it is the new moon because the last full moon was on the 6th. The first night of spring and a new moon. No wonder.

Owner of the Irish Rose (Rockford) and Irish Rose North (Rockton) restaurants, Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are also available on his Web site: IrishRoseRockford.com and featured on WNTA talk radio AM 1330.

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