Don't tell the rest of my family, but I think my favorite part of today (Thanksgiving) was hiking at South Mountain with my uncle.
It's not that the rest of the day was bad--on the contrary, it was a lovely day of catching up with relatives. And with minimal drama, even. In fact, on the Lack-of-Drama scale, it might be one of my favorite family Thanksgivings ever.
It's just that the hike was particularly nice. To begin with it was sunny and cold, which is hard to come by sometimes, particularly in Phoenix. Deep blue, cloudless sky, and somewhere in the 40s or 50s. This is how the desert should be experienced; absolutely gorgeous.
On top of that, time with my uncle is hard to come by--he lives in WI, so pretty much the only time we see him is when we are all in Phoenix at the same time. Which happens somewhere around every few years or so, and is always busy what with other family members and stuff. So to have a couple hours to just hang out with one another was a precious rarity. And we were exercising. As far as I'm concerned it doesn't get much better than hanging out & talking while exercising.
And we were at South Mountain, which was a frequent haunt for me back in my high school cross country running days. Aaaaahhhh...so many good memories. My uncle told me about hiking at South Mountain when he, my mom, & their brother were growing up, & how everything south of Baseline Road was farms, some of which were flower fields owned by Asians who ended up staying in the area after WWII and the internment camps and such, and how his parents (my grandparents) would always buy fresh flowers from the fields and give them to various relatives in the area. I told him it was cool to hear his memories because, while my mom would probably remember buying flowers fresh from the field, she had never told us about it before, so it was neat to get a more complete picture of their childhood, and how Phoenix was then compared to when I was growing up.
Before we left he let the dogs out of my parents' house by mistake, but all was well and they returned a short time later. I think it was more traumatic for my uncle than anyone else--he was worried that he'd completely ruined Thanksgiving 2010 by letting Max & Zoe out, never to return. I told him not to worry, as they always come back. He didn't believe me though, until they did. In the process we found out that my parents' neighborhood has many friendly people in it, ready to mobilize at a moment's notice to find people's lost pet(s). I've noticed a pattern as I've gained experience visiting retirement communities in recent years. My running theory is that the friendly old-people tend to be morning-types. I hear stories about older folks getting grumpy and impatient at the grocery store and such, but I have yet to meet a curmudgeon while out & about on a morning jaunt. There's something about fresh air & endorphins, I think. I mean, who could be mad after enjoying some fresh air and sunshine at the end of November in Phoenix? Not I.
Anyway...the dogs came home and my uncle and I hiked, and then we enjoyed a big ol' family dinner, with the regular Thanksgiving staples, plus a few unique additions by various family members.
Corn pudding and spring rolls, that's all I'm sayin'...