Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For the love of nature

I have a dear friend named Francesca. She is just as lovely as a name like "Francesca" implies. (That has nothing to do with this post, just think of it as an added bonus nugget of information to store away in your knowledge bank. )Last summer, Francesca's daughter wanted to go to Rancho San Antonio. I can think of few things more enjoyable than spending the afternoon with Francesca and her family, so I said "hey, we'll come, too!" Just the name "Rancho San Antonio" sounds like fun, right? It sounds like a rodeo and burritos and a petting zoo of cute little baby donkeys, and a gift shop where you can buy a sombrero and a lasso. It is none of those things. Rancho San Antonio is basically a nature park with a lot of hiking trails. Lots of hills. Beautiful scenery. That's it. On one trail, you hike for about a mile and then there is a small (very small) farm with farm animals that you can look at. I have no idea where the name came from, since this park is just south of San Francisco, nowhere near Texas. Now, I absolutely love the fact that I live in one of the most luscious, beautiful places in the world. I love that nature is everywhere around me. I just don't want to get too deeply involved personally in that glorious nature, in general. I do live in a city, after all. (Refer to my post, "I like running") But for the love of my friend, I put all of my inhibitions on hold for the day. Well. Let's just say it was a hot day. This would have been okay, except for the whining of one of my children, who will remain nameless since she has been known to read this blog and leave comments. (Did I say "she?" it could have been a "he." it's really a 50/50 chance.) This still would have been okay, but as we were starting in on our walk, a man walked by and said "keep the kids close to you, there are mountain lions out today." That would normally be enough to have me sprinting back to my car, but no, we toughed it out and did all of the things we set out to do that day. Which were: walk to the farm. Have a picnic in the little barn with picnic tables. (Oh, and there are flies in the barn. And maybe an occasional wasp, just to kick your nature experience up a notch. There is also a lot of hay, and with hay come hay fever and itchy, teary eyes. (we have the pictures to proove it.) ) Walk the mile back to the car. Manage to avoid the rumored moutain lions...that is until we were loading back up into the car and... there were moutain lions lounging in the shade of the trees near the parking lot. I was so glad to be OUT OF THERE! I told Francesca, "I was so glad to spend time with you guys, I just...don't think I want to go to Rancho San Antonio next time you go." I think she laughed. She is a better sport about those things than I am.
However....the best part of nature around here? The Pacific Ocean. That's right, folks. We live only a 20 or 30 minute drive from the largest body of water in the world. We can drive to the beach any day we want. I know there are beaches all over the country, at lakes and things, but I'm sorry, it's not the same thing. Going to the beach is just about the best thing to do in the summertime, and my favorite place to take the kids. They are never more free and alive than when we are at the beach. Sand, waves, water? Check. That is the part of nature that I LOVE to get involved in. We go to church in Santa Cruz (a coastal town) and then stay all day at the beach. We just stay there for HOURS...and at the end of the day, everyone is sandy, rosy cheeked, hungry, tired, but in a good, fullfilled way. Then you bathe the kids and put them to bed and they sleep like rocks. And I do lots and lots of laundry. And then I restock the beach bag and clean out the cooler for the next time we go. Does summertime get any better than that?
I want to point out here that we also went to the beach a couple times last summer with Francesca and her family. Those days more than made up for the Rancho thing.


Francesca said...

hmmmmm. when you asked if you could mention me I had no idea I would be forever associated with a hot, sweaty, fly-filled, almost die from random mountain lion attack day. ah well. any publicity is good publicity, right? :)

Derek said...

Francesca, darling, if you read it again, you will see that everything I said about you is super nice. The point was to make fun of myself after I basically threw myself into your activity and highlight my own personal anti-love of nature. You, however, seemed to have a perfectly fine time, and you handled yourself with much grace and dignity, as always. People reading this, Francesca is fabulous in many, many ways. :-) Love, Michelle

sara said...

LOL!! I love Francesca's comment!! Ah, it's true love!
..and I LOVe the name Francesca!

vic-a-la said...

let us know what beach is your spot and we can picnic with you at some point!

Val said...

Ahhh, the Beach. Reading this blog again makes me want to pack up and go right now. The waves, the sand, the sun...I love it all.