Kansas is lovely, but thankfully we’re not always there

Two sayings contradict each other:

Absence makes the heart grow fonder,


Out of sight, out of mind.

Two sayings contradict each other: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and “Out of sight, out of mind.”

After a week spent in Kansas, I can say that while Gilroy was sometimes out of mind, my fondness for it did indeed grow. Our family went to a small town near Topeka to visit grandparents.

I confess that initially, Kansas did look much better. It’s immaculate there. The airport sits on a green rolling meadow with water fountains. Every business we passed boasted a long, grassy yard with carefully-pruned bushes. I even asked, “Is there a bad part of town?” because there didn’t seem to be one. The Topeka High School looks like a Gothic cathedral, replete with a grand brick tower: looks like you have to be really smart to go there, but it’s just a beautiful public school. It was the first high school in the U.S. to cost more than $1 million, my husband said.

Arriving at the in-laws, their landholdings are so vast it takes three hours to mow. I thought about how even in some of the more exclusive neighborhoods in Gilroy, like Eagle Ridge, the yard is still smaller than the house’s footprint. Why is it that in northern California, where we have some of the best weather in the country, people seemingly prefer to stay inside? Why are the houses so grand but the lawns so puny?

Lest you think my in-laws’ home was an anomaly, I never saw a home there without a significant lawn.

Back to describing the glories of that stretch of sod. It gently sloped down to a pasture, then to a pond. We could see a friendly horse on the other side of the pond, a neighbor’s, clearly enjoying his good luck at being stationed there. My daughter fished for her first time ever, and though we caught nothing we enjoyed the quiet motion of casting as darkness fell.

And then … as we climbed the rise to reach the house, the ground exploded in strobe lights. Fireflies! I have never seen my daughter so excited. These glowing insects indulgently allowed themselves to be caught, pulsing their lamps within gently-cupped hands. It seemed like a fireworks display had been turned upside down, choosing the ground instead of the sky. It was truly magical.

My dictate to Gilroy: import some fireflies.

But what made me think fondly of Gilroy? Well, whenever we wanted to do anything, we had to drive. Going to the gym for a quick workout? Not gonna happen, since it’s a 40-minute round-trip. Forget a vital ingredient for your dinner? Scrap it and cook something else.

I also started longing for some hills to look at, like the lovely foothills on the west side of Gilroy. Kansas’s horizon is a little unrelenting. I was also unnerved at how many public buildings have a Storm Shelter sign. The tornado threat is still “red.”

We flew home, and Gilroy looked great. I glanced through the Dispatch and see what had been going on while we were gone.

Nice work, poster contest winner! It’s a lovely design. I did register perplexity that only 11 posters were entered. Is it possible we need to publicize it better?

Psyched that the Farmer’s Market is a reality. I will be there opening day to happily purchase local produce. Talk of the market has been ongoing for a long time: it’s great to see it come to (no pun intended) fruition.

Finally, when I told my mother-in-law I didn’t know what to write for this column, she said I should write about my mothers’ group, Las Madres. And so I will. I am nothing if not obedient.

This group is for mothers of children aged zero to five. Despite its Spanish name, it’s for everyone. Becoming a parent sometimes requires outside help: this network of women shares information, supports each other and creates playdates so that your child can meet others born the same year.

There are two opportunities for people to learn about Las Madres and meet members. One takes place tomorrow, when we host our twice-annual yard sale, with items for maternity, babies and older kids. Come to 1099 Welburn (near Santa Teresa) between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The other opportunity is our New Member Brunch on Sunday, June 5.

For information on the brunch or on the group in general, visit www.lasmadresofgilroy.org. There are several Las Madres groups, so be sure to use that url.

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