I thought I was enjoying my life in retirement until earlier today when I talked to my son who lives in Las Vegas. I mean, I have my gardening, and my forest, a great wife, a good dog (about which Mark Twain said each man deserves one of in his life), some aging friends, and the internet. But my son was describing to me how he went to what is probably the most beautiful swimming pool in the world this week, how he goes to after-parties that are even after the usual after-parties, and that he is so busy chumming with celebs that he barely has time to sleep. For example, last night he walked into a Japanese restaurant, saw one of his bosses across the room, and went up to the guy to say hello. Only then did he realize that the man was having dinner with Paris Hilton, who he is dating. (Of course, the two of them are not having such a good week now, given their arrest due to that "stuff" Paris had in her purse.) In contrast, this morning I met with some students who were graduating from Cornell. We met at the annual breakfast under a tent on the lawn in front of a decaying 100-year old building, where I ate half a bagel slathered with cream cheese. Something is wrong with this picture.
Until today, I thought that hearing a Tufted Titmouse singing in my woods was pretty exciting. I thought that anticipating the first bloom of a day lily behind the house was stupendous. I thought that going to Punk's Place in Candor, NY on a Saturday night to get a reuben sandwich was rewarding. I thought that eating a radish I grew in my garden was miraculous. But when I think about my party-going, snowboarding, cave-exploring, topless-pool spectating, Texas Hold-em playing sons living under the clear Western sky I'm not so sure. What the heck was I doing when I was young? I was married with children, in debt, in the Army or in school trying to educate myself for the good life that was to come. And what do I have now? A pithy radish and bird poop all over the place.
So just now, this very minute, I made a commitment to myself. DrTom will do something at least once a week that can stand up against the social reports of his kids. For example, this fall we can attend the Candor Senior High School football games. That marching band of theirs is supposed to put on a pretty entertaining half-time show. Instead of just listening for birds on my place, I will start turning rocks over for salamanders. There must be a whole world I am missing by always looking up. I'm not going to just grow radishes in my vegetable garden; I'm going to try some pak choi. And that Kama Sutra book that has been sitting in the drawer next to our bed needs to be dusted off. We use it to press flowers between the pages. But there are actually some interesting pictures in there. Management and I need to study those.
So kids, just wait until you call us next time. Ryan, I won't just be killing tent caterpillars on my fruit trees by squishing them between my fingers like I was when you called today. I'll be doing stuff. Lots of neat stuff. Stuff so neat that you'll want to spend every vacation here at home instead of hiking the high peaks of Colorado or dancing at fancy clubs with those girls who star in Cirque du Soleil or going to comedy clubs with Jarvis Green (the Broncos' new defensive linesman) or going to Cancun for tequila tastings. You might even start bringing people like Paris Hilton, or Alex Rodriguez, or Leonardo diCaprio with you because they have all heard that Danby is now the place to be seen, not Vegas. And Danbyites are discreet about what celebs do here. Cause you know what everyone is saying these days: "What happens in Danby, stays in Danby."