Slice of Heaven

Somehow we managed to go to my dad’s house for the first day this spring that the weather was warm and lovely. I don’t know how it happened. I’m not keen on questioning it. All I know is that it was a day of sunshine and warmth, allowing for bare feet and leaving coats in the house.

There is no better place to spend such a day. First of all there’s the beach — and conveniently, high tide hit in the middle of the afternoon, so that the beach was at its best just as the afternoon heat was highest. The kids had some shovels and pails, but let’s face it — the beach is its own toy. There are sticks, there are rocks, there’s water and sand… what more do you need? When I was a kid I could spend hours down there at a stretch, and my kids showed the same predilection.

For that matter, so did Dave and I. For me the beach is one of my favorite places in the world. The smell of the exposed mud flats reaches down into childhood memories and triggers an almost uncanny sense of well-being. And since I was on vacation, freed from any demands to cook, clean or be otherwise productive, I was happy to spend as long as Nathan wanted looking for crabs, or to sit near Ryan while he played in the sand. It was like being young again — nowhere to go, nothing to do, sometimes I sorted through pebbles, sometimes I just sat looking and listening. That, my friends, is truly living.

As though the beach weren’t enough, we headed out for walks into the woods. This was true heaven for Nathan, and I only wish we could have spent more time. After our explorations of our little local woods, he has no fear at all. At one point we went on a steep trail down a ravine, over a small bridge, and back up the other side; not only didn’t he need any help, but he led the way the entire time. The tricky bit was for us to keep up with him! I am more than a little proud of that boy; I want to go back sometime where just the two of us can go in, and let him explore as long as he wants, any direction he pleases. His only disappointment was when the trail ended up back at my dad’s house. He hadn’t been expecting that, and he looked a little crushed as he said plaintively that he wanted more woods! (He was slightly mollified when we headed back to the beach instead.)

Even when we insisted on staying near the house (for such trivialities as meals, for example), there were other attractions. For example, there was the hose. It’s been a long winter for Nathan, full of hearing that it’s too cold to play with the hose. At my dad’s house, not only was he presented with a luxuriously warm day, but the hose was conveniently located at the corner of the deck. As long as he pointed it out toward the woods, no one cared how long Nathan sprayed. Bliss! Ryan loved the hose too, but he was too small to manage it himself and remained only a spectator. He spent a lot of his time chasing after the dogs — at one time there were three of them around — who, sensing that small humans can be more unpredictable than large ones, kept sidling away from him.

And as icing on the cake, it turns out that my kids have the coolest grandpa ever, because he rides an actual honest-to-goodness tractor. Both kids sat in the seat for the first time this trip. Nathan wanted me to climb up first, but quickly acclimated after he’d been on my lap. And Dad was kind enough to pull the tractor out for a little mowing, which means that not only did we get to look at the tractor, we got to see it in action. Holy cow, that was a great thing. Our whole family sat and watched the show.

Believe it or not, there was more to the weekend (after all, it was Easter), but that will have to wait for another naptime.

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