Monday, April 21, 2008

Visiting my father

Up 280, where the wildflowers are blooming in the cow pastures and the hawks are flying in an astoundingly blue sky, through San Francisco on 19th Avenue, admiring the Marin headlands as we cross the Golden Gate Bridge; then through the rainbow bridge into Sausalito and the crazy Marin traffic until I can't stand 101 any more and turn off onto the road that crosses the Petaluma river and its gorgeous wetlands, heading east through the huge meadows where the Clover dairy pastures its cows. At the racetrack we turn north again, through more fields and the wineries with their endless vineyards, finally entering the oak woodlands that tell us we are almost there. Ziad and Maya are getting more excited and happy as we get closer and closer. I love how much they love to see their Grandpa and Pat, and wish that it wasn't such a rare treat for them. The $70 it cost me to fill the tank, however, and the increasing tension in my back and legs from all the driving, conspire with everyone's surprisingly busy schedules to make this long day trip hard to pull off.

We hear my dad playing piano as we walk up to the front door. Lunch is waiting for us, homemade sandwiches and cookies. While Pat is getting everything organized, Ziad is off hunting for the golf balls that fall into their backyard from the golf course adjacent to their property. He is an amazing golf ball finder, and in this short visit will end up with 34. Maya is renewing her acquaintance with their two small dogs. During lunch we tell jokes.

Ziad brings out one of his favorites: "Why do seagulls fly over the sea?"

That's a puzzler.

"Because if they flew over the bay, they'd be bagels."

But my dad has one for him: "Why do they have to bake bagels on land?"

Well, obviously, if they baked them at sea, they'd be seagulls. It may be you have to say these jokes out loud to fully appreciate them.

After lunch, Ziad and Maya take turns practicing on the piano -- the only way to really make the day work out and fit their practicing in. They already spent an hour practicing guitar before we left in the morning, as well as having done some quick lessons. In retrospect, I guess it wasn't that considerate of me to expect them to concentrate on school with such an exciting day ahead of them, but then again, we're just finishing up second and fourth grade math, and I'm anxious to move on.

When the practicing is over, Pat and Maya and I take the dogs for a walk while the menfolk clean up the golf balls. They get a lot of golf balls on the property, and apparently the golfers are not supposed to leave the boundaries of the course to retrieve them. My dad could generate a second income for himself selling those things. He gives them away by the handful and still has a big box overflowing in the garage. Ziad has found one with some grapes on it, one with a compass, one with an anchor. All in all there are sixteen he's really fond of, so it's a blow that I only let him take home four, but the last thing this child needs is another collection to squeeze into his overstuffed bedroom. He swears he has a box already in there that has room for the five (Grandpa gave him one) he's bringing home.

Pat has some errands, so the rest of our visit is just sitting and talking with Grandpa. I'm knitting a sweater, my mindless project for when I don't want to have to concentrate on what I'm doing, Ziad is building a pyramid out of golf balls, Maya is petting the dogs. We hate to leave, but Maya wants to read in the car so we need to get going before it gets dark. Besides, Ziad still has more guitar practice to finish.

Sometimes we like to stop at Baker Beach when we're on our way south, but not today. I just need to get back. So we make the drive with no stops. Ziad and Maya are practicing some of the songs they sing in chorus, and if it wasn't for the arguing about who is going to sing what, it would be quite pleasant.

Driving home takes about two hours, for a combined four and a half hours round trip. Why is driving so tiring? Really. You're just sitting there. There's no physical movement to tire you out. Regardless of the reason, I'm exhausted, but it was a wonderful day. I wish we could do it again tomorrow.



Blogger Vivian said...

Sounds like a great sceanic drive. Is it possible for you to stay with them over night? Then you can split the driving in two days and it might be easier on the back and legs.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I wish. There are logistical and scheduling difficulties, but we really would love to have more time with them.

9:47 PM  

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