Last Sand Castle

My older daughter, Alia, began Kindergarten today! (She now insists that we call her "Ali," actually.) So Ali went to Kindergarten.

That was exciting and everything. We walked to school. We took lots of pictures. I shed a tear, being touched. And then went and drank a lot of coffee (no decaf around, for some reason) with all the other crying parents on the school blacktop. I left the school quite wired, and a bit puffy eyed.

It's been a big day. Ali loved her class and teacher and new friends. But I think I may remember yesterday, somehow, more.

Yesterday was a special day. Ali and I sent my husband and newly-three toddler home and stayed behind in Santa Cruz. We cleaned up our "beach cottage" and went for lunch at Gayle's Bakery in Capitola. Gayle's is quite famous in these parts, for baking and such, and Capitola Village is a little beach-side hamlet straight out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. We walked into the Village along the Soquel River, along the quaint vacation rentals, and run-down beach shacks with their grassy patios and decomposing patio furniture along the water.

We got to the beach and built a sand castle amidst the "seaweed fleas" (Ali's name) that were buzzing around at water's edge. Without the right tools, the castle was very, very round and very organic looking. Free range, let's say. The flies loved it, and moved in right away.

I had told Alia that the day was a Celebrating Day. And she had said, "But there's no cake or balloons or anything about celebrating!"

And I said, "You know, celebrating can just be doing something a little different, like having a special lunch together, or cooking something special, or going out to look at the moon. Or spending special time together."

We both got a little sun burned at the beach, 'cause we had no beach stuff or sunscreen. And as the day grew warmer in the afternoon, I knew we were supposed to hit the highway soon ... to get Ali home and into bed and "ready" for her big day at school.

But I let go of time, for the time, being, and we walked all through the Village, and Ali bought a Minnie Mouse clock at a second hand store, to "wake her up" for school (no alarm, though). And we meandered, and wondered, and held hands, and then, finally, reluctantly, got in the car, and drove home.

I don't always see the charm in Capitola Village. It sometimes just looks like a tourist trap to me. But it's interesting what happens when we put our Celebration glasses on.

And first-day-of-school is something special, for sure. But so is every moment with our children, with each other, that we declare to be special.

I know school means a schedule now, and some milestones to achieve.

And, somehow, the free ranging thinking and feeling of summer, seems more important to me on this day. The Me and My Girl moments, that nourish us both ... in ways that are impossible to measure.