The coming of fall has a few key flavors and scents. Unfortunately it’s not all pumpkin spice and cinnamon, in fact for our family most of this time of year is the smell of nothing and the taste of snot. For two weeks straight at the beginning of the month, our noses were blocked, our fevers ran high and the aggravating struggle to keep a toddler occupied and happy while dealing with a stomach bug, Croup and a fever was ongoing.
For 48 hours one weekend however, we had a bit of a reprieve from the little devils inside. We were able to get out for a bit, and it was rewarding to say the least.
We live in a small town in Pennsylvania, the one where my Wife grew up. I grew up in a couple of towns nearby and my teen years were in a place quite similar, although in a different state. We both grew up generally the same in a way, just a few miles apart. Because of this we both enjoy not only the small town life, but the refreshing feeling of being out on a farm or in the middle of the woods.
The Fall brings classics with it, Apple picking, hay rides, corn mazes, Halloween et al. Now with our little one 3 years old, we get to enjoy these things again as we once did. One of the perks of being a parent, you get to re-live these little things that make life sweet. Our sweet little girl has been asking us for a pumpkin, and that day we were going to make good on our promise to go pick one.
So we bundled up a bit, packed into the car, and headed North to one of the local farms that hosts “U Pick Em” every year. We made it to their store just outside of town, picked up directions to the pick em site, and wound our way through some down-home classic country roads till we scraped our car into the “parking lot”.
It wasn’t crazy cold, just generally cold. Cold enough to need a sweatshirt and a hat, but warm enough to keep comfy. A few car-ports were set up alongside some small barn looking buildings where they had pre-picked fruits, baked goods, and their homemade hard cider on tap. Quarter of a football field was cleared out adjacent to the small barns. Some hay bales were stacked for kids to climb on, a few lawn games and benches were put out, and an older fellow with a guitar played on a tiny little stage at the top of the hill.
We picked two pumpkins and paid for them, along with a bag of pumpkin cookies made from scratch. It was a great, comfy day in the life of a small-town family, and that was just the start.
Every year the town hosts a Halloween parade. It’s such an event that people from all the surrounding towns come out for it. Either because they live out on farms where they live too far apart to have a parade, or from the busier more economy driven towns where they just don’t do it anymore.
This year the content of the parade was no different. Boy Scout Troops, Marching Bands, the Mayor perched on the back of an old convertable, fire trucks etc. Even the Rotary club hobbled their way down the street. But one thing was different: this was the first year Emma sat out for candy.
As with any small town parade, as the floats, bands and trucks pass there are people walking along side tossing out candy to the kids. We’ve been to this parade every year since she was born, but for the past two years she’s been bundled in our arms having not yet learned the safety involved in being near a road and certainly not big enough to weather the cold for too long. This year though she’s a bit older, wiser, and has a dependable winter coat that doesn’t render her immobile.
She sat along the side of the street in my Wife’s lap and had an absolute blast. She’d get up to collect candy thrown in her general vicinity, put it in her bucket, sit back down in my Wife’s lap, count her candy, then place her hands over her ears. I don’t blame her for doing so, it was quite cold. It is however a sign of when she is frightened. The bands and the trucks and the whole crowd on both our and the the other side of the street made the night feel as if we were standing in the middle of a stadium while a game was being played. And if anything spooks a little one, it’s consistently loud situations.
But the warmth of her fuzzy jacket, the love of her family, and the excitement of it all on this annual holiday in our little slice of the world kept a smile on her face.
And that’s what really counts.