So there I was the other day, sitting in the sun, coffee cup in hand, watching the ostriches, rhinos, elephants, wildebeests, lions and giraffes do what they do on an African plain.
No, I was not in Africa. Rather, I was at Kopje Lodge in the African Adventure section of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. It was late in the afternoon and sunshine was running away from us. So I pulled a chair over to the fence and sat there until the shade caught me. That was my family’s cue to head home.
The Kopje Lodge has become one of my favorite places to hang out in Fresno. Years ago, as a younger man, I would have listed night clubs, tennis courts and local theater stages.
Today, I’m an old man just seeking a spot in the March sun.
But that trip to the big city got me to thinking: What are my favorite hangouts in Selma, where I feel most comfortable? Where, in simple terms, are my happy places?
I have several. You may have more. These are places where I often go to have peace, feel better or get over one of life’s disappointments.
Here are my Top 5 places to hang out in Selma (other than my home and yard):
1) Fresno County library. Books, newspapers, magazines, CDs and DVDs. It’s quiet in there, and the staff is friendly and helpful. Often I stop in just to browse the shelves. Sometimes I leave empty-handed because I already have a few unread books at home. This is my Church of Words.
2) Shafer Park. My frequent Grandpa spot. Joaquin likes the playgrounds and riding his bicycle on the paved path or coasting down the hills. Me, I just soak in the sun (or look for shade, depending on the season) and check my email. I’ve been known to catch a short nap now and then. Shhh, don’t tell Grandma.
3) Brentlinger Park Pickleball courts. In my younger days I was part of a group that played tennis at Brentlinger every Thursday morning. Then we’d head down the block to Dr. Walt Lorenz’s house for lunch. After that, home to nap — or, for me, to work. Now in my post-tennis life, I join a gang of Pickleball warriors on Tuesday and Friday mornings. We are all friends there, whacking the holey ball, solving the world’s problems and planning our next party.
4) The pews at Selma First United Methodist. Our churches should be sanctuaries of peace and brotherhood, worshipping with our faith families. It’s where we are loved, supported and accepted for who we are — sinners in need of redemption, forgiveness and a heavy dose of grace.
5) Foster’s Freeze. I became addicted to Foster’s when I worked for The Enterprise in 2011-12. Now I still sneak in frequently to get my milk shake fix. And it also is a special Grandpa-Grandson treat after an afternoon at the playground (see Shafer Park, above). I order the chocolate-dipped cone, but Joaquin is a traditionalist: “Vanilla cone, Grandpa, nothing on it.”
Yes, you and I need our special places. It might be among a crowd of strangers, or communing with friends and family, or alone in quiet contemplation on a mountaintop or beach. Mostly, it is a place where we are comfortable, at peace with the world and at peace in our spirit.
Where is your happy place? I’d like to hear from you. Join me over a chocolate-dipped cone and let’s talk about our sanctuaries. Then I’ll go home and nap.