Yesterday Sonja and I took Titus and Zooey to the zoo for the morning, before returning home for lunch with our neighbors. In the kitchen, loading plates, Baron casually asked Titus what he saw at the zoo that morning, to which Titus, equally casual, responded with “a ‘noceros.” I was beaming from ear to ear. My less-than-two-year-old son just said, well, just said “‘noceros,” but he meant “rhinoceros,” and who needs that first syllable anyway? Watching your offspring learn and grow, observing this growth, this is one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. This is the stuff I was living for long before I realized it.
I’ve been having my students “Hunt The Good Stuff” (HTGS) lately in all of my general English courses, a tip of the hat to the field of Positive Psychology and in general a good thing to do. In so doing, we think about and list good things that have happened to us in the past 24 hours. Student who I know have pretty sh*tty home lives are challenged to find things that, in spite of that, make them happy. They always can. Students who have great lives with every imaginable blessing are challenged to consider greater and more meaningful approaches to gratitude. Today, I, admittedly having a pretty blessed existence, cited Titus telling our neighbors about the ‘noceros as the “good stuff” — the best stuff, that has happened to me in the past few days. Many of my students found it amusing. As a dad, however simple it may have been, it was equally profound and beautiful.
I know I mention this a lot, but Titus, my son, was not named after Philip and Eric Titus, who founded the Napa Valley winery of the same name that I’m in love with. Nevertheless, sharing a bottle of Titus wines in the Gudgel household has taken on special meaning since our son was born. Tonight was the only night this week that I’m not scheduled to work (very) late, so I insisted to Sonja that we share a nice bottle of wine. The 2013 Zinfandel, which we picked up at the winery in March of 2016, my scrawling on the back label informs me, is drinking really nicely right now. Big, hot, and jammy, I could nose the varietal without much trouble. The body remains hot, but finds balance and becomes smooth with a quick decant, boasting oak-imparted notes of vanilla and caramel commingling behind more vibrant and assertive flavors of raspberry preserve, blackberry brandy, and currants. At 15.5%, it is an example of what Napa Valley Zinfandel is at present, and that is something that I very much enjoy.
Tomorrow, as I Hunt The Good Stuff, I will surely remember this bottle of wine, and the conversation that my wife and I shared on the couch tonight as we drank it. I’ll remember my son and reading The Sneetches to him before bed, my daughter’s precious smile, the way she stared at me before bed with her immense blue eyes, and the chance I have to teach people things that matter tomorrow, to make them think, work, listen, and feel. My job is a blessing. My life is the good stuff. And for all of that I am grateful.