I’m sure you would agree that Fresno has such nice summer & fall evenings. Well, most of the time at least. Linda and I have created a tradition during these times of the year of taking family walks in the evenings around. We’ve done this for the past 10 years or so. We have a quick 1-mile walk that takes us down the road West until we dead-end into the end of the 3rd hole at Riverside Golf Course. We always comment how much cooler it is right there. A consistent small breeze runs across the fairway, over the green and then spills onto the road where it finds us. It seems like the temperature will drop 10 degrees in that one spot.


What’s nice is the kids (not little anymore) really enjoy this family time and often, it’s them saying each evening, “Let’s go for our walk.” So we saddle up our little dog Cody and we hit the road. It’s always a great way to connect, talk about the day or discuss challenges faced and what may be the best course of action.


One additional item that always accompanies our walks is our insatiable competitiveness. We seem to find ways almost every time we take a walk (or do anything for that matter) to make a game and compete with each other. Often times, it’s kicking a small rock down the street to see who can kick it the straightest and the furthest. Luke is very serious about this game.


Although anytime we’re able to spend time together as a family is cherished, last week we had a walk that was truly memorable. I intently try to be present in the moment, not just to pay attention to my family but also to notice these special moments as they’re occurring. It’s in these moments where memories are made. With Luke heading off to college in September, Linda and I will officially be “empty nesters,” so we are very aware that life will be changing in the very near future and I think these times are particularly special to us.


Mid last week seemed to be extra special. We headed out for our walk, relaxed and talking casually with each other. When we dead-ended into the golf course, we meandered along the 3rd hole and found abandoned golf balls. We’re thankful to the guys that shanked their shots off to the right as it provided a lot of enjoyment for us. We quickly formed a little game to see who could collect the most balls. With this, our little Easter Egg hunt was underway. I believe I won that first contest with finding a whooping 5 balls, Linda 3 and Luke 1. Feeling good that I won the the first round for the evening, we back tracked along the 3rd hole back towards home.


When we got to the green of the 3rd hole, a new game was quickly devised. We divvied up the golf balls so we each had 3 and then picked spots around the green where we would toss the balls onto the green and see who could make it into the hole first. I failed pretty miserably with this game. Luke on the other hand, took 2 rounds and Linda took the last round.


With darkness quickly approaching, we abandoned the 3rd hole and took off for home. However, there were still competitions to be had so, instead of a rock, we each selected a golf ball and took turns kicking our ball down the sidewalk. This was really a series of competitions as each kick down the side walk was its own competition. The person that kicked it the furthest and straightest would win. If you rolled off the sidewalk into the flower bed or street, you lost. Plain and simple. I don’t really remember who won those little games as there were many, but we had so much fun. We were laughing, trash talking each other, and laughing some more.


When we finally made it home in the waning light of twilight, we had one more competition to undertake. It was Luke’s idea this time. We each grabbed our pitching wedge out of our golf bags in the garage and had a little “flop shot” competition on the front lawn and see who could land in the middle of the unfortunate large brown spot our lawn has developed. Luke again won that one. I remember a time when he could never beat me, but that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. I’m okay with it though as I’m still thousands of wins up on him. He has his work cut out for him.


This was a magical evening and one that I will never forget. I’m a blessed man to have such a playful and wonderfully loving family.



Todd Mitchell