I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Little Bean comes for a Visit

The Prospector and I packed up the dogs, on Christmas Day, took the truck (and the car) and drove down to the Bay Area, to my sister's house. I actually got my husband to leave the mountain and stay overnight with the stipulation that the dogs would come too.
My sister's house was beautiful and we had a wonderful day... a special family get together that was enjoyed by everyone.
 I stayed an extra day and then picked up my youngest grandson, Little Bean, for his first trip to Noni and Papa's house by himself.  He is six years old. He had talked about this trip excitedly. He was telling me all the things that we could do when we got to the farm.
But first we had to drive up into the mountains for two and a half hours. To a six year old  two hours is like ALL DAY.
Mommy said that he would probably fall asleep a few minutes after we started. RIGHT!
Instead of falling asleep, he decided to watch everything and ask questions. The main one was, "Are we there yet?" I'm sure you've heard that one before??
He said he couldn't sleep because the sun was in his eyes. We were driving east and the sun was, indeed, in our eyes.When we turned north to drive over the San Joaquin River, again, I thought he might take a nap. He got really quiet. When I looked back to see if he was asleep, he said, "Noni, why do you and Papa live so far away? How long before we get there?" I told him that we had another hour and a half to go.  I told him that we use to live in the town we had just passed through and that was where his dad grew up. His next question was, " Did you have kids when you lived in that town?" I realized that I was going to have to be very clear from now on... that a six year old only processes NOW and that it's very hard to understand a timeline of Daddy being a baby, then a child, then a Daddy. This is not an easy concept.
So I tried again.
"Well Bean, Daddy use to be your age and then he grew up. You will too." Before I could add any pertinent information to back up my statement, he said, "What are those tall white things over there?"
Thinking I had dodged a bullet (sorry!) with the human development issue, I responded quickly, "Oh, those are windmills. They make energy from the wind."
"But they don't go very fast.". He was really watching them and then he added, " How do they go faster?'
"They need more wind. The wind makes them go faster."
He looked at me and said, "Oh." and there was a moment of silence. Only a moment. Then he saw the sheep.
 "Look Noni. What is that?" A huge flock of sheep were lying out in a field enjoying the sun.
"Those are sheep." I said.
"Oh." he said. "Some are little."
"Yes, Bean, the little ones are called lambs."
"That's nice. I would like to touch them."
"Well Bean, the guardian dogs probably wouldn't let us touch the babies."
"What dogs?" He hadn't seen the big white Maremma's that were lying around with the sheep.They really blend in.
"The dogs that watch over all the sheep out there. They live with the sheep."
"The dogs LIVE with the sheep?"
"Yes!" I said, "They are trained to take care of the sheep."
"Even in the rain."
"Yep, even in the rain."
We came to the Rio Vista Bridge and turned east again.
Bean spotted a hawk on a telephone line.
"Look at that bird."
It was about then that I realized that my grandsons attention span was saving me from serious discussions on any one subject and that all answers could be in very general terms. It also made me realize how new his view of life was and how he still had such a sense of wonder about everything.  He was discovering life.
What happens when we grow up? Where does that wonder go?
We stopped at a Farmer's Market to use the bathroom and we saw a goat and some chickens.
Between the Farmer's Market and Highway 5, in the Central Valley, we saw Egrets, hawks, more sheep and some starlings doing their graceful dance together in the air. I saw all of this though the youthful eyes of my grandson. I had seen it all before. I drive this route all the time. This time was different.
We drove to a gas station  and filled up. Bean noticed that there were two red trucks and a red sports car in the gas station. He said that he wanted a red sports car like that one. I said that it was beautiful and someday he could probably buy one. He said "Yes, I will."
 Then he wanted to know how long it would be before we got to see Papa.
I said, "About an hour."
"Why does it take so long?" Bean was getting restless.
I said, "It just does."
"We-ll Noni," ( this "well" had two syllables and an accent on the "we".), he said, " I think that you live too far away. I am tired of driving."
I'm sorry Bean, but we are more that half way there now. We will be there before you know it."
LOOK, Noni, I see COWS!"
Bless the milk cow farms in East Lodi. They don't know how much time they consumed and how they made the last leg of a trip across the Central Valley of California a whole lot faster.
"I love cows, Noni."
"Do you Bean?"
"Yes." he smiled, "They are my favorites."
Bean doesn't think that they need extra hay. He thinks they should eat the grass that is in the field.
Bean doesn't like the smell. ( I admit. It was pretty bad.)
Bean says that cows are really big and they lay down in the "muddy-poopy"mess and that is why they smell so bad.
I joked about which ones were the "chocolate" ones that gave chocolate milk.
He wasn't sure about that, but... could he have marshmallow's in his chocolate milk when we got to the house... and did we have the little marshmallows for his MARSHMALLOW GUN that he brought with him.
I told him we did.
We finally got into town, picked up the mail and headed down our road and home to PAPA and the dogs. They were all waiting for us.
The Bean rested, ate dinner, played with the dogs, watched a cartoon movie, played outside and made me a special puzzle picture at his brother's favorite desk in the extra room.
He was settling in and getting use to being with Noni and Papa in what he called "the house with lots of old things in it and no other houses around it." He wasn't afraid. He seems content. 
Little Bean was here for a few days, suit case, Bug Vacuum, Marshmallow Gun and all.
Uh, oh! We are going to have to put shoes and socks up somewhere safe. You know how Carl likes to steal  shoes and socks..
Tomorrow we will climb the rock wall, build a playground, throw rocks ( Yes, you can do that here. We have acres of rock throwing space.) and go buy a pair of boots at Wall Mart. He needs an extra pair for the hike with Noni and Papa.
Sweet dreams little guy. See you in the morning.


  1. haha what a trip...gotta love the questions of the children...they never stop either...and it is sad we lose a bit of that...smiles..fun stuff...

  2. Sounds like it will be a wonderful visit. And he will keep you on your toes, too! Have fun, and Happy New Year.

  3. Oh, you are going to have so much fun! I remember when my son was a young one, my husband had a friend visiting us for a couple of days and when he left he took the hubby aside and in his kindest way possible wondered 'if our son EVER shuts up with the questions?' Unfortunately a few years later my son became a teenager and pretty much shut up for several years. Enjoy it while you can Noni and have a wonderfully Happy New Year.

  4. Young children always have lots of questions. Always asking why what how come. Have a wonderful time with little Bean. Wishing you a blessed day and a Happy New Year. Madeline

  5. My 19 year old grandson crept up behind me on Christmas Eve and whispered, "Is it time yet, Granny, is it time yet?" I'm glad you also are blessed with the opportunity to spend time with Little Bean to build a similar relationship. You captured perfectly a little boys impatience and constant questioning.

  6. Just reading this post wore me out! I can imagine how you must feel at the end of each day . . . . . exhilarated I’m sure, but I’m surprised that you can even get out of bed in the morning!!!

    Isn’t it something how the things we put aside long ago as mundane, or have come to take for granted, suddenly take on a whole new perspective when you get to see them through the eyes of a child? And, isn’t it marvelous?! A golden gift to once again experience a little bit of childhood innocence and wonder!!

    Happy New Year. Love ~ Dawn


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