My father and I went to the same grade school, a little place in our old farm neighborhood called Grand View, for the simple reason that the view of the snowy Sierra Nevada from there is grand. He walked to school from his birthplace on Road 66. I rode the bus from my childhood home on Avenue 408. I say birthplace because he was born in the house, whereas I was born at the hospital in town — the same hospital where three of our four children were born, where I had my appendix removed, where friends and neighbors died, and where Dad closed his eyes for the last time back in 1995. A few years ago, the hospital was torn down. I’ve seen pictures of the empty space. It was a strange feeling. My first thought was — and this would have amused my father — a good place for watermelons. Humor and sadness. What could be better than the sweet heart of a melon, broken open in the cool of the morning of what is sure to be a scorching San Joaquin Valley day? Anyway. Back in the Thirties — I don’t know exactly what year — there was a very late frost, so late that the vineyard growth was well advanced, with canes tumbling down in emerald profusion. Dad remembered walking to school and seeing the vines blackened and limp — this in a place where we planted our garden in March, to the tune of seventy, eighty, or ninety degrees. Now it’s May, and we’re 735 miles north in Oregon, with fingers crossed just setting out our gardens, using the same shovels and rakes and hoes we used on the old place. No, they don’t make them like they used to. But it’s going to be a good year. It already is. It always has been, and always will.