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Soothing The Soul

POSTED June 30, 2009 3:52 p.m.
How nice of California to heat up to triple digits just as soon as I returned from a vacation to lush, green, rainy and non-humid upstate New York. What a welcome back.
This most recent trip back east managed to make me homesick. I had forgotten how green New York is for much of the year, except when it turns brilliant colors for a month in fall and snowy white for a few months in winter.
Okay, maybe the snowy white lasts longer than I care to remember but hitting the Empire State in mid June was definitely the time to go. Summer’s traditional unbearable humidity hasn’t hit yet, so it was a treat. Sunny skies in the morning more often than not gave way to clouds in the afternoon with rain — and the occasional thunderstorm —†by late afternoon or evening, followed by another sunny morning the next day.
Of the 10 days we were there, it rained a little bit nearly every day, accumulating over a third of the rainfall we measured here in the Central Valley for our entire ‘rainfall season.’ In just 10 days. They are tired of rain in New York. For me, it was a joy.
This trip also had another factor that made it special; my daughter and I joined my sister and her youngest daughter —†who just graduated high school —†and we made our first visit back together in about nine years. That made it all the better; instead of just telling my daughter stories from my youth, my sister and I were able to share our memories and relive some of those fun times, drawing on each other’s recollections of events. We were even able to gather the whole family together for photos and touch base with many relatives. And the night we pulled out the old home movies … well, my daughter thought I was weird when I was 11. Maybe it was the cat-eye glasses or the way I always mugged for the camera, clamoring to be the center of attention. You’ll have to ask her.
One evening my sister and I walked (our daughters were aghast we didn’t take the car) from our parent’s house up on the hill to the downtown apartment that was graciously provided to us for our stay by the pastor and his wife from our parent’s church. It virtually became a walk down memory lane, as we took the ‘short cut’ and passed by the house where my sister had her 4-H meetings, the house on the other side of the street where a good friend of mine from school lived. Further on, we saw the long driveway leading up to the house our grandparents lived in for years, the site of many happy Christmas Eve gatherings (also featured prominently in those previously mentioned home movies). Then we passed by the street that everyone in town dubbed ‘Snob Hill’ because the houses were bigger than most and it seemed like all our school teachers were the only ones that could afford to live in them. Our dad and his business partner at the time built most of the houses, but neither of our families ever moved there.
The apartment itself was on Main Street, right across from the school where my sister, brother and I went to school —†as did our father before us — from kindergarten through high school graduation. That fact amazed our daughters as well, that we would be in the same school all those years. It now is an elementary school only, with both a junior high and high school in the next town over, following a merger of the two districts several years ago.
We also managed to fit in an excursion to New York City and were blessed that those were the only two days it didn’t rain on our trip. We took the train — just over a two-and-a-half hour ride —†and experienced Times Square (quite the place to be at night), the subway, a journey to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Ground Zero and the requisite shopping at overpriced NYC stores. It’s just a totally different world and you can sure tell who is a city dweller and who us tourists are. City folks don’t wait for that little pedestrian light at intersections; they just figure the cars better stop if they know what’s good for them. More than one taxi driver had to swerve to avoid contact but somehow, it all seemed to work out.
My sister and I joked as we took the train in to the city that, coming 3000-plus miles, it would be just our luck to be in a first floor room at the hotel for our one night there, a ground floor view in a skyscraper city. Well, we got there before the actual check in time but the clerk was nice enough to give us a room that had already been cleaned. It wasn’t on the first floor. It was on the second. And our view out the window was of the scaffolding that was up because they were having renovations done.
Not willing to settle, my sister headed back to the lobby with our tourist plea for a better location. She was graciously presented with a new key … tenth floor room, opposite side of the hotel from the construction and the view out our window … looking out, appropriately enough, at The New York Times building.
Now that’s a vacation.

Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at mjackson@escalontimes.com or by calling 847-3021.
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