One of the blessings of living where we do is that my parents live exactly one hour away at Hom-a-gen, the farm that has been in our family for, well forever. Hom-a-gen was one of the reasons we moved to Durham in the first place. When Russ was looking at business schools twenty years ago being close to the farm was a real draw, especially for Russ and now for Shay-Shay. See having acre upon acre to run free is paradise for a dog that lives on a leash in her home neighborhood.
Carter is studying for exams but Russ finally felt like he had gotten ahead of his work so he and I made a quick trip to the farm after church. My parents were free to join us for lunch at my father’s favorite Mexican restaurant in Danville, El Vallarta. My father is such a regular there that even though the place was full of people waiting to be seated he just walked right in and went to his special corner in the back and magically his regular table was sitting empty as if it were permanently reserved for him.
The wait staff greets him as the big tipper he is and brings the beer my father is known to order. No one asked why we did not have menus as all the people who were seated by the hostess did. No one questioned us seating our self or skipping the line. My father is clearly a charter member of the el Vallarta club.
After lunch we went back to the farm to run, walk and throw the tennis balls to Shay, which was the real purpose for going there. Shay loves to run after a tennis ball as fast as she can. She is also fairly good at catching it in mid air, but bringing back to you is not her thing. She usually will pick it up and carry it to her self-determined home base. This means Russ or I have to walk to were she drops the ball. We usually play with at least two balls at a time with her so that at one time one of us is retrieving and one is throwing. You would think that the labradoodle should be the retriever, but that is not the case.
After the throwing and catching session Russ and I walked down to the big lower pond led by Shay. She knows every inch of the place and only stops to look back to make sure we are following her every once in a while. I swear she is smiling as she walks. If she had a cartoon bubble above her head showing what she is thinking it would be one simple sentence over and over again, “I love the farm. I love the farm. I love the farm.”
After circling the pond, surveying the schools of new baby fish and enjoying the perfect sunshine we walk up the hill to go sit with my Dad outside the office barn. With Shay trotting ahead on the dirt farm road I look over at Russ and I think I see the cartoon bubble above his head, “I love the farm. I love the farm. I love the farm.”
A man and his dog in pure nirvana.