Year in Yosemite: Buddy System
If you were to wander through our Yosemite home, here's what you would find: In the kitchen, there's a fishing pole leaning up against a wall. There's a bow and arrows in the hall closet. Under my husband's desk is my daughter's Red Ryder BB gun and homemade Indian hunting sticks, while on the porch there are hiking boots, snowshoes, skiing paraphernalia and sleds. This is all as foreign to me as the lights of Paris would be to a caveman.
That's because I grew up in the most cosmopolitan of atmospheres. When I was my daughter's age, I hung out with friends at places like bowling alleys (I’m giving away my age here) and shopping centers. When my parents were doing the planning, activities expanded to include museums, symphony halls and theaters. As I grew older, life revolved around good food, movies, the theater and concerts. Nature, as in national parks and wild places, did not rate even a blip on my radar screen.
Needless to say, the fishing pole, hunting stick, bow and ski equipment do not belong to me. No, they reflect the interests of my husband and our daughter, especially since moving to Yosemite. Unlike city kids, our daughter doesn’t have a cell phone, has never played with an Xbox, hasn’t a clue what a Wii is. For Christmas she asked for cardboard boxes, rolls of duct tape and a Swiss Army knife. Last night she spent half an hour on the phone with her father (who’s away on business) comparing birdcalls. She was tickled to bits when he mistook the cry of a black-capped chickadee for a red-winged blackbird.
This makes me very happy. Of the many gifts that Yosemite has bestowed on my family, the greatest among them has been time. When we lived in Los Angeles, we hardly saw my husband. He would leave for work at 9 am and return almost 12 hours later. On weekends, he was so exhausted from his commute and the hours spent at the office, that doing family things was taxing. But not here.
Here in Yosemite, he and our daughter have built a relationship based on mutual interests—fishing, target shooting, hiking and exploring—and a love of each other's company. With no restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys and stores to divert attention, the emphasis is on personal interaction. The slow pace and often isolated existence have made my husband and daughter best buddies. She and I are close, but they are a mutual admiration society. Will it continue when we move back to Southern California this summer? I hope so. If not, as Rick assured Ilsa in the movie Casablanca, we’ll always have Yosemite.
-- Jamie Simons/top image: Jon Jay; bottom image: Bruce Chevillat.
In May 2009, while hiking in Yosemite National Park, long-time Los Angeles resident Jamie Simons turned to her husband and said, "I want to live here." Jamie and her family have since lived in the park. Check out all of her blog articles by clicking here.