A morning at Toby’s


All the rain the last few weeks had kept me trapped. When I read there may be a possibility of the sun appearing, I raced to my car, hoping to find solace in my usual haunt. I pulled in and parked at Toby’s. As I walked toward the coffee stand, the sky above me was being washed clear of the billowing gray haziness and uncovering a bright blue beyond. I picked up my very needed coffee, tucked a Chronicle under my arm and wandered to the white octagonal table with its surrounding connected bench. It was not wet, I sat down; there was hardly anyone around.

Just as I unfolded my paper, three geese passed overhead honking on their way toward Tomales Bay. I paused to absorb the sight and sounds when Dr. Joe Blumenthal parked his bike and sat next to me, asking “May I join you?” No problem, I replied, as it’s always a pleasure to chat with the good doctor. Our conversation turned from the weather to his artwork; I had heard he was looking to find a larger press for his etchings. I informed him that a local artist, Chuck Eckart, whose etchings are well known, might be able to help him. As we sat discussing how to arrange a meeting with Chuck, I felt someone to my left setting down a cup. 

I turned to find Bernie Schimbke, our new member at Gallery Route One. He had brought to the gallery his sense of design and his ability to produce outstanding watercolors. I did not know at first whether the left or the right knew each other, but as I was about to do an introduction, it turned out that they did. A conversation quickly developed between the two, alternating past me from left to right and back to the left.  

A tall figure bundled up in a bulky jacket appeared and slowly sat down opposite us. Ah yes, there was David Mitchell, West Marin’s Pulitzer Prize-winner, placing his newspaper on the table, setting down his coffee cup and asking if it was all right to join us. No problem, Bernie introduced himself, and there was no need for such between Joe and David. Gathered together with drinks at our sides, we all acknowledged that times were tough but that each one of us was holding his own and still sound of body. It struck me that sitting around the table was a ring of artists, casually easing into the day, soaking up the comradery that surrounded us. Where else sitting outdoors will you find yourself magically surrounded by such an accomplished collection?

Well, from around the corner of the post office a head appeared, looking to see who was hanging out. There was the very person whom I had wanted to meet Joe: Chuck Eckart. He immediately joined us, Bernie rising to shake Chuck’s hand and returning to his seat. I immediately introduced Joe to Chuck, as the opportunity was golden. They quickly huddled to verify their needs, while Bernie and I resumed our political discourse with David. Before long it was time for the group to drift apart and tend to our individual agendas. On my way to the car, I experienced a warm sense of belonging in a village where one could enjoy the outdoors with so many interesting friends, and over coffee. “Thank you, Point Reyes!” I thought. 

This time, above were not three geese but an oscillating ribbon of soaring geese, loudly sounding out their passage to the northwest as they headed over Cheda’s Garage. Where else?


Artist and architect Igor Sazevich lives in Inverness.