This weekend Mario and I drove down to Rhode Island to visit my cousin and his family. We only live about 1 hour apart yet we always have the most challenging time finding a weekend we BOTH are free. Between travel schedules and other commitments we had to get this visit on the calendar 3 months in advance.
We arrived mid-day to the boisterous welcome of two very excited children. My 2 little cousins aged 6 and 3 have enough energy that if only harnessed I believe could power a small city. I am sure they are generally as exuberant when anyone comes to visit but I’d like to pretend that they were particularly excited to see us. Not that we visit often but it is nice to think of ourselves as the two cool cousins from Boston. So with Disney music filling the house the youngest wanted to show off his jujitsu skills by repeatedly pelting me with these rubber sparring sticks. I really don’t know what they were but sparring sticks sounds somewhat technical! After about 15 to 20 minutes of horsing around, pretend fighting, chasing, and other typical kid behavior we took a breath and settled in.
It was an absolutely gorgeous late summer day. The sun was warm, the air was crisp and the day beckoned us to be outside. When my cousins’s parents arrived the entire family headed over to Federal Hill in Providence for lunch. Living 1 hour north of Providence for so many years I am surprised I’ve never heard of this area. It is a charming Italian neighborhood not that different from the North End in Boston. Dozens of Italian restaurants dotted the street with little shops mixed in here and there. We picked a trattoria in the main square next to the fountain. After some super creamy burrata and prosciutto, a Caesar salad and a veal, pork and beef bolognese all washed down with 2 glasses of Cab, all was right in the world.
Our afternoon back at the ranch was spent out back enjoying the afternoon sunshine. My cousin is really into martial arts so he did his best to teach us how to throw knives. He constructed a large wooden plank at which large knives can be flung with lethal force. My first 10 throws yielded knives in the grass, bouncing off the plank and hitting the garage until finally I got one to stick. I was brought back to my childhood when my brother Brian and I took Kung-Fu together at a local studio. We didn’t throw knives but I did win 2nd place in one of the kicking contests!
The kids showed us their flips and somersaults and dance moves while the adults sipped wine as adults tend to do. They pulled out their scooter and bicycles and other toys each of them proudly demonstrating their skills to us. The older of the two children pulled out her toy shopping cart along with her scooter. While rolling along on her scooter she was simultaneously pulling her toy shopping cart along by putting one foot in the cart while one foot was on the scooter. She began singing, “Life is better with one foot in your shopping cart”. And I couldn’t agree more!