Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Running on grass

The Del Mar Racetrack "where the turf meets the surf"
This weekend, I was in Del Mar where the younger child was horse-showing. I love Del Mar, have loved it for many years, since I was a hippy beach girl in cut-offs, listening to the Dead. It's a blissful place -- a tiny village full of little restaurants and shops, a lagoon, a dog beach, a race track, California-style bungalows, people walking down the street hand-in-hand with cups of coffee, dogs everywhere, and -- at this time of year -- crazy Tequila Sunrise-style sunsets.

While the east coast is in distress with Hurricane Sandy -- while Piers Morgan is interviewing the speaker of the New York City Council and Anderson Cooper is having heartfelt conversations with crane experts to discuss the one dangling precariously high over Manhattan, while my friends still don't have power, and Minky's trip to Bard for IDP has been cancelled due to the mess with the airlines, while people are trying to save their burned houses and washed away beaches and every reporter is standing thigh high in seawater, I feel slightly bad writing about lawn. But lawn is what I am going to write about.

The Del Mar racetrack was deserted this weekend. The show was at one end but the entire track, the one with the expensive European footing, and the grass one, was empty. And so, on Sunday afternoon, I crawled through a hedge and under a fence and ventured inside. While the dogs ran around happily, I rejoiced in feeling the grass under my feet and I was reminded quite clearly of my childhood, of big, springy lawns and cartwheels, and roly-poly races down hills and chasing dogs and dogs chasing you, and the smell of it, the heady, herby smell of the grass, and the way your legs felt walking on it. So walking on the racetrack in San Diego County in October, I was reminded of England in the summer, on those impossibly long sunny days which went on forever (and are the only ones you remember despite the fact that most days were grey and rainy). I remember bocce on the lawn. And my father with a glass of claret and the tricks he taught the dogs.  And for a moment, in all of it, I realized, how delicious it is to feel free.  The grass stretched for a mile. A whole mile of short, springy, green grass, no brown patches, no holes, no weeds, just turf.

Morning view from dog beach across the racetrack

Marky, Minky & Thistle, at the racetrack at night
In my next house -- in my next life -- there will be a lawn. Lots and lots of grass to roll on, and play on, to run on, and do cartwheels on. Try it.

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