This past weekend, my family and I continued our California adventure with multiple, distinct experiences.
From where we are located, we could drive less than twenty miles in any direction and take in more than ten different farmer’s markets. Now that spring seems to be here to stay, and the strawberries, raspberries, cherries and various and sundry veggies are maturing, a person can find themselves in a sensory Shangri la upon entering their market of choice.
The best part? Going with the whole family and letting everyone pick something out. This past weekend, we came home with pluots, berries, cherries, fat red tomatoes (picked at the peak of ripeness), various lettuces, lentil and pumpkin-filled Indian flat bread, and crispy green beans. What better way to inspire a dinner party with new friends, than perusing the market for fresh food?
On Memorial Day, we headed for Santa Cruz and spent the first half of the day “hiking” (ok, walking along a paved path in the Big Basin Redwood Forest on one of the few trails open to canine companions)
and the afternoon at a dog-friendly beach where kids and puppy equally wore themselves out. Maisy, our new labradoodle puppy, found no less than fifteen other dogs to romp around with in the sand, and our three kiddos enjoyed dodging waves for hours on end. By the end of our beach stay, we’d observed a dolphin gliding by offshore, California Sealions lounging on a nearby rock, and a mother and pup sea otter duo floating supine while dining on whatever delectables they found in the surrounding kelp forest.
Dining at a swanky pizza joint in Santa Cruz’s downtown district, we enjoyed people watching from our patio table–at which point Santa Cruz’s reputation for eclectic eccentricity became understandable.
Post-dinner ice cream scoops consumed, we headed home amidst the holiday weekend traffic: kids sandy and sun-kissed, dog heavy on the floor of the car, immobile with satisfied fatigue. Crawling along the pass between Santa Cruz and San Jose, listening to the soundtrack from Woman on Top, I remembered once again why we are so lucky to be having this California adventure: it is absolutely the antithesis of life in Montana in so many ways and yet, in many more, it is hardly different: I am still a stay-at-home mom with big hopes and dreams. I ache for adventures outside the home come week’s end, and am thankful for a familiar home setting to return to come Sunday evening. I aim to open our children’s eyes to new and different experiences whenever possible, and also strain to teach them gratitude for the everyday small graces that make up their common world.
I still miss Montana something fierce for all the familiarity it came to represent for me, but I’m awfully glad to be here, too.