ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   The distance between numbers

© Another Day in the Country

On Friday, I announced to my grandson that I’d be flying back to Kansas on Sunday morning and he said, “Well, Baba, it seems like you just got here!”

I seconded the sentiment. Two weeks was, indeed, a very short time in which to celebrate birthdays, cook favorite meals, begin painting projects, win a chili contest (and $90) with vegetarian chili, fold at least 50 loads of laundry, play, play, play, and snuggle in bed every morning for a little while with a warm bundle who never stopped talking.

Our conversations usually began with “Baba, can I tell you something?” “Yes,” I’d answer so that he knew he had my undivided attention even though there was no one else in the room. “There isn’t much distance between number one and number five, is there,” he said. I agreed with my 5-year-old philosopher and then there was a brief pause in rhetoric. Silence. “But, Baba, when it comes to a kid, it’s a long ways between 1 and 5.”

This early morning chat continued softly while his mother, in the next room, enjoyed another 30 winks of slumber. I told him again what he was like when he was 1 and how the theme for his first birthday party was all about cowboys and Indians and I had brought the makings for an Indian tipi that he could actually play inside. Times had certainly changed because this year the theme was going to be Star Wars complete with a space raider costume of some sort that his Aunt Jess and I had gotten for him — on request.

I told him about what size he was and how he hardly had any teeth and couldn’t talk and look at him now. He’s tall, even lanky, always on the go and about to turn 6! He’s the teeth-brushing, seatbelt-hooking, hand-washing police whose imagination is endless. He can argue his own case like a New York attorney, until his mother, the judge, slams down her gavel. So, that’s where I’ve been the last couple of weeks.

“Do you miss California?” Lanore asked me yesterday in art class. I think I said, “Yes and no,” or something similar. The countryside in the Napa Valley is certainly beautiful this time of year with green rolling hills, vineyards beginning to bud out, and bright orange California poppies blooming in every nook and cranny. However, Kansas also has its beauty, although not so much this morning with snow blowing over my tulip blossoms.

Two days after I left, Jess called and said, “You’re missing spring. Your trees are blooming in your yard and my tulips are blooming,” she crowed. “You are going to miss it.” The next morning she sent a picture of tulips encased in ice!

I was secretly glad that you had cool weather while I was gone because spring was held back a bit. The clematis was unfurling, the tulips blooming, the apple trees beginning to show buds when I surveyed the yard yesterday and then today? Snow!

Hmmmm. Do I miss California? In some ways, I do. The Napa Valley is filled largely with open hearted, keen thinking, health-minded, highly educated, pretty affluent folk. I miss that welcoming California spirit of instant belonging. I miss my family.

That said, when I was living in California still, I missed the wide-open vista of Kansas prairies. I missed the quiet on a Sunday morning. I missed the church bells calling the faithful in Ramona. I longed to hear the meadowlarks singing and the smell of freshly cut hay. I wanted to get away from all that traffic and constant crowds to a simpler lifestyle, so here I am.

I had a long wait and a long walk from one gate to another in the Denver and I was amazed at all the people going, going, going, from one dream to another through the airport. In fact, I started reading (and eventually writing down) all the United stops as I went from gate 18 to gate 58: Boise, Idaho; Sacramento, Calif.; Minot, N.D., Phoenix, Los Angeles, Boston (extra security there), Saskatoon (sounded fun), Houston (been there on the trip out), San Diego, Calgary, New York, Omaha, the list went on, and finally Wichita.

Home again, my sister’s welcoming smile, my daughter’s call, my grandson’s noise in the background. I’m back for another day in the country.

 

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