I know that does not sound like much—particularly when talking about the grand state of California which runs 800 miles from our neighbor to the south-Mexico-to our northern neighbor, Oregon. However, right now in our lives somebody might question why or how we are so far away from home. Aren’t there things to be done? Arrangements to be made? Packing to attend to? Isn’t it true that in 33 days we board the plane for our home in Italy? All legitimate, logical, on target questions. Yes, there is lots to do--unfinished arrangements hanging in the air, piles of “stuff” lying around waiting placement into a duffel, a birthday party to pull together, two barbecue/swim parties to host, a car to sell…more, more, more.
And here I am sitting at the kitchen table at my brother’s home in beautiful northern California—almost to the lovely old town of Grass Valley with its Victorian charm and quaint store fronts--which disappoint once inside as, in today’s homogenous world, the wanderer finds souvenirs and knick knacks easily found elsewhere—maybe even at Target or Toys-R-Us. To be fair, though, and not wounding to those stores which do take pride in quality and the unique, there are treasures to be found for the special people in your life—that kind of gift which is as much fun to give as to receive.
We are here because Uncle Dan and Aunt Glennis are loved by Casey and special to us. And, although, they do promise to visit us in Italia—clearly a great sacrifice born of love--, it was important to see them before we leave. Casey loves to come here because Uncle Dan always finds things to do with him that he doesn’t get to do at home.
This morning was spent fishing on the lake on a boat and Casey caught a bass—an exciting experience for a city bred 7 year old.Now they are venturing a nature walk in the woods—looking for deer and, hopefully, staying away from stray mountain lions. When we visit here it is clear that Casey would thrive in such an environment as this. He could so easily be a “Tom Sawyer” boy!
At this moment, I can picture him and Camilla wandering the vineyards and hills of Tuscany together, exploring the castle on the hill, the horse pastures, the olive tree groves—taking pleasure in the purity of God’s creation. It will be good as these two children become brother and sister—fratello e sorella—for a short while, creating memories to last a life time.
As this clearly is being written in segments today—we have now moved on from the nature hike (where, amazingly, a rosy boa was spied) to riding “the hog” in the afternoon. Vroom---off they go with Casey‘s smile stretching ear to ear. A day with Uncle Dan is clearly a day of myriad adventures and fun—he is a man who loves river rafting, flying planes, physical challenges of life. The stuff of little boy dreams.
OK, I thought I was almost through but-no--there is one more adventure in store—a joy ride on the tractor—down through the trees and leaves, dodging deer with their fawns. The laughter and whooping floats back in the air as uncle (actually, great uncle) and (great) nephew enjoy each other and the fun they share. And it is such a pleasure for me to watch.
So we take a break from preparations, knowing that somehow it will all get done, and understanding that more important things are happening in these days. We will get to Greve in Chianti and the days of getting ready will be behind us but the imprint of the pleasures with Uncle Dan will forever be a part of who Casey becomes.
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.