My boys and I spent the day exploring the backwoods of my home town in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Something about the gnarled, moss-covered trees; clean, brisk air; and quiet engulfed with fluttering bird’s wings and the gurgling of river water hugging rocks of all sizes whisks me back to my childhood.
In an instant I was back in time, where the carefree days of my sisters and I included nothing better than skipping rocks across the calm of pooled water on the river bank while soaking up the mountain sun caressing our backs. On summer days we would strip off our second-hand clothes and see who dared flow down the strongest rapid. On cooler days, we’d find a large rock to share while we beaded earrings or necklaces and shared bites of sticky mango or soft avocado right from the tip of our mother’s Swiss Army knife.
I had not been to the river for several years. The last time my boys were much younger and I was too distracted by a million worries for their safety to sit back and watch them as an outsider. This time I watched as they threw rocks, jumped over puddles, chased each other and froze their fingers to lift layers of ice from the shallow pool on the bank.
We could have stayed for hours! It was so great to see my children interacting with nature, getting exercise and enjoying each other. However, we had two more stops to make before heading back to our Roseville city apartment… “Grandma’s Skatepark” and my Uncle Paul’s house nestled into the mountains near Hwy 49.
“Grandma’s Skatepark” located at Condon Park in Grass Valley is the physical evidence of the decade my mother spent lobbying for a place for the large population of “skaters” in our small, tourist town. Though construction began after she moved away from the area, this skatepark only exists because of her valiant efforts nearly twenty years ago! So, of course I had to take a picture of her grandson partaking. The good and bad of it was that the skatepark was packed to the rim with skaters both young and old, lined with spectators, littered with remnants of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and freezing due to the sun dropping quickly towards the afternoon horizon.
Next, we headed to my Uncle Paul’s house. I expected a short visit, full of conversation about how we were adjusting to our new life in California. What I didn’t expect was to see my rock star cousin, Wesley Avery or my nine-year-old’s wide eyes as he met the second cousin his memory only knew from YouTube videos! Within a few minutes, my boys were rocking out in Wesley’s studio, my patient cousin showing each boy how to drum a simple (yah right) beat on his drums.
But the adventure didn’t end there! My uncle also showed Jared his workshop where he restores and designs antique lighting. He showed Jared how to cut and shape a scrap of metal into a box and invited him to participate in occasional Saturday workshops on the condition that if he sells his creations, all the money will go into his college fund. My uncle couldn’t get over how cute my kids were, and I could sense he longed to spend more time with them. Always a kid at heart, my one and only uncle has always had a gentle and creative spirit. With both of his children in their early twenties, and grandchildren nowhere in the near future, I would consider it an honor to bless my uncle with some quality time with his great-nephews.
As long as our day was, I was filled with peace on the drive home. Seeing my children through my uncle’s eyes reminded me how precious these moments are and that before long, they may be on their way to signing that record deal or cutting the ribbon for their newest mechanical engineer children’s workshop. I look forward to many more Grass Valley adventures in the near future, and for the relationships forever forged between my boys, their second cousin and their great-uncle.