Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pt. 1: My Old Home, Pt. 2: Cape May

It's a surprisingly brisk Tuesday morning here, feels a bit like fall. Which is totally fine with me. NYC always seems to have long, terrible winters, interminable summers, short, cool springs and, it must be said, nice falls. But my favorite season, by far, is spring. (Should seasons get capitalized? Help me out Internet!) And, unfortunately, I think we get the shaft when it comes to spring over here.

But it's my absolute favorite season. I remember being a little boy, growing up near here, in Closter, N.J. We lived in a split level home, on some land that we more or less allowed to grow as it would. But there was a nice strip of land next to our driveway, and in that strip my mom planted some annual flowers. I loved these flowers. Every spring, right around the end of March I would see the little crocuses spring up, and it always warmed my heart. They were so defiant, because it was still cold. These would die off pretty quick, and eventually tulips would take their place, which I also loved, but not quite as much as the crocuses. What can I say, it gave me such a warm feeling to know that as terrible as winter may have seemed even it could not last forever, and warmer, sunnier days were to come.

We had a nice old oak tree in our front yard, with flowers ringing it as well.

My mom sold the house in 2006, it was time for her to move out of a fairly large home into something smaller and more manageable. The roof needed to be fixed, the downstairs had started to leak every time it really rained, and there was just so much work to be done, too much for a woman who was by then in her mid-70s.

So, she sold it, probably for not quite as much, maybe, as she could have, but for far more than the same house would have fetched in 2000, the last time she considered selling it. We could say Mom was smart, and she is smart, but I don't think she timed the markets, or knew that we were in a housing bubble. She just needed to move on. So she did okay on the sale, and the property was bought by a young couple who immediately leveled the old house and built yet another McMansion.

I haven't gone by to see it yet, all these years later, because I think it would make me sad. What would make me saddest is that we had a lot of old pine trees on our land that I believe have all been cut down and uprooted. It's their land they can do with it what they wish, but I loved those trees.

I loved the at least semi-wild feeling the trees gave our land. I would see squirrels run up and down their trunks. It all made our suburban home look like something a bit more rustic.

A little bit before the home was sold we slept over and it seemed like nature was putting on a bit of a show for us, a sort of last hurrah. I saw a hawk had nested in a telephone pole across the street, and had chicks. A large, and I do mean large, woodpecker was in our front yard pecking at a tree stump. A family of three deer walked into our back yard and just hung out there. I got some photos of them, but I don't think they really came out all that well.

Why am I reminiscing about my old home like this? I don't know, I really don't. It's funny sometimes to just follow where your train of thought takes you.


Stella is starting to really talk up a storm, it's kind of scary. She's really starting to remember everything we say and then repeat it. And now she's starting to form sentences. She's also starting to remember songs and repeat them to herself. Entire songs, not just the choruses. I think this kid could be wicked smart, as they say in "Good Will Hunting" but I don't want to really think about that too much.

As per my last post I have begun my extremely limited attempts to teach her Spanish. I have put what toys she has that have bilingual settings on the Spanish mode and then tried to see what happens. What mainly happens is that she looks at me and wonders what the hell happened to the English setting. We shall see how this takes, if it starts to take at all.

But this period is amazingly cool. I talk a lot, which some of you may know. The fact is, I don't talk to Stella like she's two. I never did any real baby talk with her at all. I just couldn't be bothered. I just talked to her like normal, though I did simplify the concepts so she could understand them. My theory, we shall see if it means anything, is that she would start to understand language more if I just treated her like a normal, intelligent person when we speak. I think more and more parents are getting hip to this, because baby talk just seems to silly and pointless after a while.

I mean, yes, I will also speak to her deliberately in ways that are pointless and silly. But that's just for kicks.

Still, I am excited for her speaking skills to advance. Every day our relationship grows a little closer, a little tighter, more unique. Sometimes I imagine what it will be like when she's 10, or 20 or 30 and we're walking and talking. I don't want to rush this time, but I am jazzed to know that we will soon be in full communication.

But the truth is every day just gets better and better with her. And I really feel blessed to have this kid in my life.


This past weekend we were in Cape May, NJ with many of Randi's best friends from college. I loved Caped May. It has the largest collection of Victorian homes in the U.S. and was America's first resort. Randi was so happy to be with her good friends, and we got to stay in a lovely old beach home. And Stella was such a good girl. Yes, she did get cranky at times, but she's starting to become so aware.

For example, the home had a big central stairwell in it. When Randi and I saw it we both kind of rolled our eyes, because we knew that given her druthers Stella would do little more all weekend then climb up the stairs, and then we would have to carry her down. (She is much better going up than down.)

This didn't happen though. Instead when she started to climb without our supervision we both told her firmly "no," and made sure she understood that we meant business. She took this well, and instead would sit down on the bottom step and play with her toys. After a while I stopped feeling like I had to watch her every five seconds to see if she was going to violate our orders. She didn't. I was very proud of her and her ability to listen and understand.

I was also proud of her because there was a six month old baby there, Jack, and she was so sweet to him. After a couple of days she started to walk around going "baby Jack, baby Jack" and she would be gentle with him. She was never jealous of all the attention he received, and would even play with him. She is a gentle, sweet, unique child.


Man, the beach at Cape May is fantastic. It was mostly empty with clean, beautiful sand. The ocean was cold, of course, but on the second day I allowed myself to get really used to it, and even boogie-boarded a bit, which was an absolute blast. I also saw Randi do some boogie-boarding, and was psyched to see her having so much fun. I couldn't have been more happy for her, that she got to spend such quality time with her friends.

We saw dolphins swimming out in the ocean several times, slapping their tales, rounding up fish. It was an amazing thing to witness firsthand. I still haven't seen a whale in the wild, that's next.

Stella at first didn't know quite what to make of the beach, but soon came to absolutely love it. In fact she threw a fit when we had to leave to get dinner on the first day.

By the second day on the beach she had a bucket and shovel and was all about playing. We even got to sit in wet sand near the waterline and make sand castles, while she scooped the wet sand into her bucket. A bucket filled with water. Then she would spill the water and I would have to fill the bucket with new water from the ocean. She'd give me look like, "do it, buddy."

The breeze was warm, the sun was not too hot, I could have stayed there all day, and we did.

It was hard to leave Cape May, that's for certain. I could have stayed there another week, easily. I didn't check my email once, didn't watch any TV. But we sang songs with the kids, me on guitar, and had nice dinners and I even got to take a nap on a big old front porch. Like I said, it was hard to go, but I am happy for the memories we have.


Cynthia said...

Dave, what beautiful accounts of your recollections and new experiences. Thank you for sharing them. The words and ideas flow so smoothly, very much like the surf as it rolls onto the beach when the sea is calm.

David Serchuk said...

Hi Cynthia,
Thank you so much for your compliment. Reading something like that is a very cheering thing. I have to apologize about taking a few days to comment back, but please know such kind words make a big mark here.