Another day in the country
The things we remember
© Another Day in the Country
Those of you who have family around you always, perhaps you take that closeness for granted. Or perhaps you begin to chaff at the insistent demands of close family life? I don’t have that problem because my daughter and her family are far away.
It had been more than a year since I’d last been with them. A year of missing the hubbub that they bring in their wake. A year of not hearing their familiar laughter.
A year of not seeing a cook in the kitchen clad only in scanties. A year of not hearing her say, “I’ll be back at 1 p.m. and knowing I’ll not see her until 3 or 3:30 p.m. (She always underestimates the time it will take her to complete a task, just like I do.)
We all know she wants to be back at 1 p.m., but she won’t be.
She’ll call from the bottom of the hill and say, “I’m on my way. Is there anything you want me to bring from the store?”
We say, “No.”
What we want is to see her.
She brings so much light and laughter into the house — this woman who works seven days a week: supervisor, coach, fencer, mother, housekeeper, laundry lady, cook, ad infinitum.
There are precious moments throughout the day and I tuck them away to remember, often taking a photograph to underline the importance of the occasion.
We had several important occasions when I was in California.
Easter was fun!
The almost-14-year-old still wanted to hide eggs and have a hunt. As did his 50-year-old mother. As did his 80-year-old grandmother.
We specialized in tricky hiding spots — color-coded places where the egg would blend in with its surroundings.
The first time, we forgot to count the eggs, so we never knew if we found them all. Sometimes the one hiding the eggs would find an unfound trophy and think, “great minds,” and chuckle.
I hid the last round of eggs, as I remembered hiding eggs in this very same yard years and years ago and returned to some of the same spots.
One of my favorite places to hide eggs was in the tailpipe of Richard’s Toyota. (He is infinitely fussy about his car). He tried to act horrified when he heard, but I assured him the egg would have fallen out at the first rumble of the car’s engine.
The funniest find was an egg I hid in a niche near the chicken condo.
When someone bumped the cage it rolled out into the chicken run. My daughter and her son both scrabbled through the fence, to get to the egg first.
Yes, we keep score as to who finds the most Easter eggs. It’s a tight game.
So, when I’m there, during my grandson’s vacations from school, he and I have fun, play games, eat lunch, water the plants, watch the chickens, feed them, let them out to graze, gather the eggs, play another game or two, read a book out on the deck under the streaks of sun slanting through the trees and wait for the lady of the house to come home.
We played deadly games of Battleship. Close, fierce competition.
We played the hanging weight game called Suspend.
We watched “Schitt’s Creek.” I luckily got out of playing Exploding Cats!
We also didn’t play chess, this time. I’m always watching for what he’s grown out of and what he’s grown into — the changes in a child as they become teen age.
One morning when he was already dressed and ready for school, I heard the door open to my room, felt a weight on the edge of the bed, and then this gangly tall boy-becoming-a-man leaned over and wrapped his arms around my covered up form, and laid his head on my back.
He was too grown-up to crawl under the covers as he did as a child, but still making contact at 14.
My kids often watch a movie or some comedy show after supper. We all cram onto the couch in a row — it’s the only available seating unless I drag in the one chair in the house from my room.
One night Jana brought Clementine tangerines to the couch for a snack. While we watched the flickering screen she’d peel a cold little tangerine and hand around segments to her mother, her son, her husband, and then pop one into her own mouth.
I’ve eaten lots of tangerines this past winter. They are one of my favorite fruits but, here in Kansas, I stopped getting them at the store. The ones available seemed to have been on the shelf too long. I’d buy a bag and find them mushy, lacking in flavor or difficult to peel, so I stopped buying them.
Now here I was in California, sitting in the dark, receiving a cold segment of tangerine. She’d put it straight into my waiting mouth if I timed it right.
It was like receiving Communion. A most satisfying ritual.
The room was dark. I couldn’t take a picture to remember the occasion.
We all just sat there, watching the movie, and every few minutes a hand would reach toward me in the dark. If I opened my mouth, she’d put a cold, sweet, tangy slice of tangerine inside.
My taste buds would dance! Saliva mingled in ecstasy with the sharp, sweet, cool liquid and I savored it as I chewed and swallowed.
Who would want anything better than this, on another day in the country?