Notes from the West Coast
Getting to Berkeley for Grandpa Herb’s “memorial party” was a long, strange trip. Long, because it takes two planes to get from Durango to anywhere. And strange, on account of my travel companions:
Col spent a good part of the first flight studying the safety card provided in the seat back pocket.
“It looks like they’re sliding out of the plane on a really long slide.” Col pointed out.
“Mmm, look at that.”
I explained about emergency landings, which I don’t like to speak of while I’m actually on a plane. It reminded me of when, last summer, in telling Col we were going to the chemical-free park in town, I had to explain that the rest of the parks get sprayed with toxic chemicals because of well, dandelions. And it all sounded so macabre; people put harmful chemicals on kids’ parks and planes sometimes crash. But, never being mired by details, Col returned to his card.
“It looks like this guy’s floating on a little square.”
“Oh yeah. That’s his cushion; it floats, just in case you uh, land on water.”
“You mean if we crash in an ocean?”
The flight attendant announced that if anyone sitting in an exit row was unable to perform their duty, “we may reseat you.”
“Who’s Mary Seatyou?” Col asked.
“She said she may eat you.”
But actually, the flying was easy compared to the several times I’ve flown alone with the kids when they were younger and Col would slide under his seat and pop up a few aisles away right at the moment when Rose had a spectacular poopy blow out. In fact, on this flight, I might even have read ten pages of my book.
Since my parents picked us up at the Oakland airport on Tuesday, we’ve all been drunk on oxygen and the winning ratio of 3 adults to 2 children. Suddenly the kids seem so comical and benign, which I think is how my parents see them all the time. But four adults will be even better and thankfully, Dan will be joining us Saturday, the day before Grandpa Herb’s memorial.
Apparently Dan’s getting along okay without us. Last we spoke, he was listening to a basketball game while reclining on the couch with a beer. A couple years ago after flying alone to Berkeley with the kids, I called Dan to ask how is it without us?” I felt like I was calling a glamorous friend who was sashaying down the red carpet of a 4-star vacation while I took a break from my wheat-threshing duties on the plantation. How has it been, just you, alone, free to live without interruptions or diaper changes, to eat dinner and just simply, eat? I could hardly believe Dan was living in this mystical reality I still haven’t visited, where children do not dictate the stitching together of your every minute. Dan replied “Oh, I don’t know. It’s been less than 24 hours.”
Col and I are sleeping in the same room, and I secretly love it when he climbs into bed with me at 5:00 am, scritches around, breathes heavily on my neck and then falls back asleep, his snoring moon face approximately ½ a centimeter from my head.
Rose is frothing with excitement over helping Nana with her daily vitamins. Each morning Nana dictates “okay, one of the white pills, two of the capsules,” and Rose is almost as gleeful as if she were given the green light to eat the travel toothpaste she’s pining for.
And while the grass at 6512 feet is still snoozing under a rumpled blanket of snow, northern California is the spring green of a black bear’s dream. Even on a foggy day, the grass shines, illuminated, as if the sun resides in those very blades. Col and Rose have been running barefoot, picking sourgrass bouquets, lapping up the warm outdoors like it’s all they ever wanted.
But yesterday, that slow-moving animal endemic to Northern California moved in. The fog gulped bridges and buildings and Col stood on my parent’s deck squinting at the thick grey soup and asked “if we throw water on it will it melt?”
And though the locals groan heartily about this fog, I was intrigued by this meteorological animal that spreads like mold, cloning itself, exhaling moisture in big sighs. I could almost feel the plants sipping off the body of fog, becoming more of their own green selves.
We went to the beach, and though the fog never lifted, the kids—never having any expectations of weather—were captivated by the enormous sandbox stacked with shiny, broken shells, colorful, smooth pebbles and ropy seaweed sprawled about the sand like roadkill.
This is what you can buy–for a song–in February.
It’s like Barbara Kingsolver said in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: eating locally can be hard, unless you live in say, California.
But this is why we came. To see Grandma Joyce, and with family, to honor the long life of her husband, Grandpa Herb.
Have a lovely, lovely weekend and maybe spring will be tickling your feet soon.