Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is by Pam Feagle. Following a recent trip to California, Pam offered up these reflections. Feel free to share in the comments some of the charming places you’ve visited.
We have recently returned from a delightful trip to our oldest son’s home in Davis, California. He asked us if we would consider coming and taking care of their boys, 10 and 7, while he and his wife took a three-day get away to Monterey. She had been asked to speak at a writers’ conference there on Friday, and they hoped to take some time after that for themselves.
My husband and I were quick to decide on this one. The boys are getting older, not to mention us, and our son had said this would be good for them and us. And he was right!!
When we arrived, our daughter-in-law had typed up three single spaced pages of instructions, schedules and general information. A girl after my own heart! The evening we arrived, our youngest grandson ensconced himself under his bed and declared he wasn’t coming out until the grandparents were gone! Using my CeCe (the name the oldest one had given me nine years ago) powers, I crawled under there with him, best I could, and worked my charm. Before it was over he was high-fiving me over a promised trip to the sporting goods store. Of course, this same seven year old refused to get all the way into the car one evening as we left to go out to eat. I almost drove off with him hanging out the back door! He DID NOT LIKE Chipotle, and would NOT eat there! I told him if he chose not to eat there, after the rest of us finished our meal, we would stop by a restaurant of his choosing, and he could bring something home to eat that he liked. Of course, when we walked into Chipotle, he immediately announced that he wanted the kids enchilada with chips and a juice box. Problem solved!
We had fun at ball games, school carnivals, and other planned activities, but the best part of being in Davis is Davis itself. Every morning you wake up to cackling chickens in the neighbors’ yards. No roosters allowed, but this city likes its hens. The neighborhood school that my grandsons attend even has a coop full of chickens! Coming back from taking one of the boys to his piano lesson, I had to wait for a wild turkey to cross the road. That is a very common sight in Davis. I’ve seen them come up to the back door, up on the roof, stop traffic while they cross the road, and generally make pests of themselves. But if you only visit once in a while, the sight of a wild turkey in front of you is startling. Guess the powers that be can’t forbid turkeys like they can roosters!
The most unique thing about Davis citizens is their passion for bicycles. In fact, Davis holds a platinum ranking as a Bicycle Friendly Community from the League of American Bicyclists. The Adventure Cycling Organization has said Davis “is widely known as the bicycle capital of the world”. Everyone rides a bike, and they ride them everywhere. They ride bicycles to school, to the store, to work. Most days my son rides his bicycle over thirty miles, round trip, to his office in Sacramento, thus getting in his exercise for the day, staying fit, saving money, and getting himself into a good mindset for work. The building where he works provides bike racks, of course, but also a locker room and showers so he can carry his clothes, get a shower, and get dressed for work. Parents pull a buggy on the back of their bikes for the littlest ones. I’ve seen adults on bikes with a child’s bike attached in some fashion to the rear. By the time a child is four or five years old, the training wheels are off, and they’re riding right along with everyone else. This last trip I saw a very elderly man on a three-wheeled bicycle. He was quite dashing, actually. Now this is the hard part to believe – EVERY single street in the entire city has a bike lane. And to make it even more amazing, there are separate traffic lights for the bicycles. It makes for a very difficult town to maneuver a car in.
And the pedestrian is another scary thing. They DO NOT LOOK to see if you are going to stop or not! They have the right of way, by God, and you better let them have it. Some streets in the downtown area are four way stops, and some of them are two way. Add that to the bicycles, and it’s just plain hairy!! Of course the car we were driving was an electric car. One would expect no less in Davis!
Speaking of energy saving devices, our son’s house has solar panels on the roof. Of course, this is not rare – solar panels are ubiquitous in Davis, California. And every house has a garden, many in the FRONT yard!
But I’ve saved the best part of being in Davis for last. The wonderful neighborhood our son and his family live in, and especially the residents on their street. Every house has children, and they’re all in the street all the time – riding bikes, playing baseball and football, riding scooters or skateboards. And all you have to do at the end of the day is go out and sit on the front porch with your wine, and suddenly there are four to six other adults joining you. They bring their chairs, or sit on the steps, or just make themselves at home.
Thank you, son, for letting us experience this amazing time with our grandsons and with your wonderful city. We love all of you, and we love Davis, California.
Pam Feagle is Southern and proud of it. She was born in Los Angeles, California, to displaced Southern parents. By the age of five, she was rightfully relocated to the deep South, where she has remained.