my dad had some time off from work, and so he and my mom were driving out west, stopping along the way to visit my mom's family, then swinging around to see us kids. being that i'm the one with the largest residence and a recently empty room, i was also the headquarters for their visit. having them come out was not unusual; they seem to be out here once or twice a year. what was unusual was that they were out here together. in the past, my dad will be out on a ski trip (visiting his progeny is simply an afterthought), and my mom will be out visiting family. so having them here together was, more or less, a new one. as i was bedding down on the downstairs couch, i had a peaceful feeling that took me a moment to place: it was the same feeling i get when i'm back home in minnesota for the first night of Christmas vacation. it was good to have my parents here.
what i enjoyed most about their visit was taking the time to learn from my parents. while i'm starting to play tennis (jack? jaime?), my understanding of the rules is mostly the vestiges from the two-week unit in high school gym class, and my technique is stems from, if anything, wii tennis. but my dad used to play (i think he actually has a trophy or two somewhere), and i asked him to bring out his tennis racquet. on the courts by westridge elementary, he helped me polish up on the rules, pointed me in the right direction with my technique, and even gave me a few pointers on strategy, where to stand, how to anticipate, and the like.
and then, of course, we went to f.y.e., where dad happily found weird al's uhf on sale and promptly bought it.
like i mentioned, the backyard garden looked, well, unpleasant, excepting one pleasant surprise: the snapdragons, flowers that did only moderately well last year under my care and were supposedly one-shot annuals, had grown back in greater fortitude that before. one afternoon early in the visit, we were thinking of what to do with our time when i threw out the option of going back and weeding the garden. i planned for it to be little more than a way to occupy a few hours until becky and brady and the blessed grandchild arrived. yet plucking weeds gave way to thoughts of getting a few flowers and the need for a shovel. a trip to lowe's brought the idea of "why stop at little flowers" and "why not a climbing rose bush"? and "why not some asian poppies?" (my mom has them and they look awesome) a few days later, we were at a serious flower shop, loading our pallet with not only exotic poppies, but dahlias, tomato plants, jalepenos, and purple bell pepper plants (i didn't even know they existed). and then off to another expensive nursery, where hand trowels are sold for $25, to get the best darn rose bush we could find.
my dad got into it to, offering to go to the store to repair my recently broken garden hose and, after some collaboration with my mom, coming back with enough gadgets and gizmos to set up a watering system for my tiny backyard. i didn't need the stuff; in fact, part of the reason i planted flowers back there last year was that i wanted something to work on (although by september i was pretty tired of watering everything every night and decided that their season would end prematurely), but my parents were having more fun with this than i was that i decided to let them enjoy it all.
while it's always nice to have life return to its familiar order, i was sad to see them go, feeling a bit like my grandma waving goodbye as they left that morning.
update: gardening is not my natural forte; everything out back is looking sad. the snapdragons fared much better before i touched them, i see no signs of fruit or flowers on the vegetables, and my beloved rose bush bears a disturbing resemblance to the apostate olive tree of jacob 5. i am hoping that it's just the daily rain showers we've been having, flooding my plants and blocking out the sun, trusting that, when the desert's rainy season passes, my secret garden with one day flourish.