I wake up to part three of my journey: Stacy, Josh, Nathan, and Jenny's house in the country and time with them. I walk downstairs and Jenny stands at the stove telling Finn, her son, who stands on a stool, to stir carefully. I will notice over the next several days that Jenny is an excellent teacher with her son and her son an excellent student. He likes to do things that typically five year old children don't do; that typically they let their parents do and their parents prefer because it's easier and quicker. Jenny, however, as a stay at home mom takes the opportunity to teach Finn skills, attentiveness, and a work ethic that will benefit him for the rest of his life.
We eat breakfast together. I play with Finn. He has tiger and lion masks which he wears and then crawls on the floor attempting to scratch me with his claws. We head upstairs as Jenny gets ready for the day and play a game of ping pong. He wins and tells me I'm not very good. “Have you ever played this game before?” he asks incredulously, stunned by apparently how terrible I am. I tell him yes and he suggests perhsps we do something else. "Like what?' I ask. "I will perform a magic show for you," he says. So we head downstairs where he puts on a magician's cape and pulls out a box of magician's tricks. He performs several tricks and each time he's finished he tells me to ask him how he did that and when I do he says, "A magician never tells."
I had initially thought of going to the coast with Natasha, but the plan doesn't work conveniently for her and now that I'm here, I realize I would rather spend time with Jenny and Finn in whatever way they would like to spend the day. Jenny suggests a park in Eugene so Finn can play and we can talk. I say yes and soon we're packing a picnic and spending a perfect Friday afternoon at the park: clear blue sky, low if any in my opinion humidity, green goodness everywhere. I love summer. Always my favorite season.
After the park, we stop at the grocery store. We start with an ice cream cone for each us which we eat at a cozy living room area with a fireplace which isn't on but is a great touch for a grocery store. Finn insists on pushing the grocery cart and placing all of the items in the cart. All Jenny does is tell him which item. He's a bit slow pushing the cart and placing the items in the cart, but she's incredibly patient and gentle with him. It's really beautiful parenting. I wish I would see more parenting like this when I'm at grocery and department stores. It's usually the opposite: crying child throwing a temper tantrum and parents impatient and curt with their children rushing through the store, taking their children along for the whole process who are often bored because they aren't doing anything. Solution as Jenny aptly showed? Let your child take charge. Yes, it's a bit slower, but it becomes a learning activity for them that develops their ability to do a sustained task that normally adults would do.
We head back home. There's delayed traffic due to a field fire and strange coincidence, Joshua is driving behind us. He sends us a text to let us know. What are the chances that with all the people in Eugene in all their cars that he would end up behind us? Yes, the plan was that we'd all get home around five, but it's still an incredible coincidence and I love it when coincidence or synchronicity happens in my life.
Stacy, Josh, and I drive to the King's Estate Winery about twenty minutes from where they live. It's a beautiful winding road through hills lush with golden fields and green trees. The winery itself is at the top of one of those hills and from every direction you look there are expansive hills of grape vines in straight rows. The view is beautiful. It's the first time I've been to a winery and so I'm looking forward to it. We do a flight of six wines at a bar area. We are quickly laughing. It feels like old times; a wonderful reminder of why I love these two people and why I'm grateful they are in my life. After our flight we sit outside for a bottle of rose—it's the year of the rose-- and a charcuterie, a word new to me. Basically, a fancy French word for platter of cheese, veggies, and meat.. More laughter ensues. The evening is perfect for spending it outside eating and drinking with two good friends who I had the pleasure to marry, and I'm happy that they are happy together, and that the three of us are happy together right now after all these years.
As we drive down the gravel road to the front of their house, we see that the gate is down and Ezra and Finn are standing at the gate, wearing camouflage and carrying plastic toy machine guns and they demand to see our identification. It's right out of movie set in some paramilitary future. There's also a password involved, which fortunately, Josh knows, and soon, the gate is lifted and we enter into the compound, I mean the house.
We all say good night and see you in the morning, which for me, living alone, is a really nice way to end the day, saying that to people you love and looking forward to them in the morning. I open the window again to the silence of the country. A few crickets, a few frogs, a lot of silence.