Friends on Father’s Day

Thought i’d write this while the lingering taste of  fresh ginger salad, organic sweet potato fries, and baked beans settles in the recesses of my mouth and stomach.

What a completely satisfying and stress free Father’s Day, compliments of Claudine and Bryant. And including her Grandpa Wright, the infamous Uncle Arch, and the new neighbors Steve and Patty, on that idyllic short path known as Old Stone Road. All the men in attendance were fathers, of course, but beyond that they are all great story tellers. Perhaps part of good parenting is being a good “story-teller” or “life-teller”, as it certainly belies a lot about the teller’s personality.

And to give you a clue to the stories, let’s just say that as I drove home alone along The Old Road and over the darkened Newhall Pass that night, i had the eerie feeling that a rattler had somehow snuck into my car and curled in the back seat. I thought I would be quit careful in how i took the bumps in the road, just in case i’d wake a sleeping snake.

Yup, up in them canyons, snakes are part of summer life. Whoops, watch those bare feet in the grass! Grandpa stayed at Claudine’s earlier this year, re-cooperating from a fall, only to be startled by a gopher snake inches from his head, climbing the post behind his head. That was only one of several snake greetings this year, of which all were far too many for the lucky recipient. It was recounted that both households at the mountain’s perimeter, are in the habit of seeing each other troop up the hill – garbage pail in hand – to take one of nature’s creatures back into it’s habitat (we are talking -yards from the houses). In the case of possums, this is not always successful, as they will sometimes race back to the food source (your house) and beat you back. Yes you- standing there holding your empty garbage pail, looking dumbfounded.

But that is really just the tip of the food chain that was surrounding us, as a warm California Day fell into night. Along with the stories of snake close encounters, eagles toting snakes, early morning coyote passes, a deer sighting, volumes of rabbits, possums, raccoons – and discussions of what is tame-able and what- not, a wonderful dinner got consumed. The well watered flowers and lawn, were alive with sightings and song from hummingbirds, yellow and black orioles, finches, and mockingbirds (didn’t see the blue bird)- all getting their dinner as we enjoyed ours.

Other than creatures, the conversation would also wind around the “speed need” -racing either motorcycles, NASCAR, or boats. and there will never be a shortage of stories there. You’re talking about a group of seasoned “speeders” here! I believe the concensus was that Uncle Arch holds the record for speeding tickets – and that’s just the times they could catch him. And Steve has graduated from motorcycles to NASCAR, so there was also illuminating discussion on Juniors’ recent win by fuel rationing in “caution” zone. Some kind of crazy method, whereby when you are running short of fuel in the caution zone, but you can’t stop to refuel, so you cut the engine and glide (without control) alternately with gunning the engine. ???

Did i mention that in the course of all this conversation- night silently slide in. A fire was set in the outdoor fireplace, the conversation continued over  home-made ice cream with fresh fruit. There was something rustling in the brush- Bryant got out his portable flood light, and we were all able to determine it was a rather large rat, trying to get at the birds food. Bryant, set out some traps- because as we all know rats attrack snakes. Ahhhhh, life in the canyons.

And now, its a day later. i’m still relishing in the “glow”, the peace, the sense of well-being that those few hours with those people (close to me) infused. I’m thinking how fortunate i am to be asked to join in on these occassions-me, no stories of my own really, just work. How precious time is, to have even a couple of hours to share. How energizing and uplifting a good conversation with great people is.