Grape Orchards and Apple Vines

Today, in the 13th summer of my youngest granddaughter, she and I got into my car, put the top down, fastened our seat belts and sped away for a just-us time together. Sporting matching pink flower print hats with sparkly bling added for effect and curly pink ribbon ponytails, we waved picture-taking family adieu, heater on to mitigate a cool, misty morning. Even before we were out of sight the chatter began.

“I went bungee jumping yesterday, Grams! It was scary but soooo much fun . . .”

Watching her out of the corner of my eye as I drove through town towards the freeway, I smiled at her exuberance. She is thirteen-going-on-ten, not twenty. Good. There are too many thir-twenty-year-olds in this world –girls anxious to be instant adults, to experience life in advance rather than to allow their petals to open unhurriedly.

Only on the freeway briefly, we turned onto a winding road that would take us through farmlands, orchards and vineyards to the forest and finally to our destination –a funky, artsy, out-of-the-way little town rich in history and short on swagger.

Founded in 1876, it was a stop on the North Pacific Coast Railroad connecting Cazadero to the Sausalito ferry, and at one point was a center of the county’s “neo-hippie” movement. As we parked our car and began our meander through shops filled with uniquely crafted pottery, jewelry, clothing –much of which is locally made– we hugged often, laughed easily, enjoying our special moment in time together.

Oilclothed tables set outside on a worn-out porch was our choice of venue for lunch with forks and spoons that looked to be some great grandma’s kitchenware. The sun broke as we sipped mint chip milkshakes (organic milk, fresh churned ice-cream) and downed yummy sandwiches and homemade french-fries and asked the waitress to take our picture.

After visiting a Golden Retriever in the back of a pickup parked nearby and popping into a couple more shops on the other side of the street, we headed back to our car for the ride home. Full up with food, fun and affirmations, our laughter caught on the wind as my granddaughter mixed it up as we passed “grape orchards” and “apple vineyards” and clusters of “pink ladies” with naked stems.

Taking “wheeee” curves out of the forest we leveled out and caught sight of butterflies winging across cut field grass. Before long the backdrop of hills behind my son’s house came into view and my car momentarily sped along the freeway than slowed as we made our way back to familiar streets and home. Neither one of us wanted it to be over.

Actually, I thought–Sweetie, it’s only beginning . . .

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