Friday, October 22, 2010

The Musk Melon Queen

Perched upon a presumed wood and paper mache slice of melon, the queen look poised and regal. She drove all the way from Milan, Ohio to join her sister queens for the Fall Festival of Leaves parade in Bainbridge. That is 168 miles! I asked another royal personage (Queen of the Feast of the Flowering Moon) which was more exhausting to maintain for the length of the parade - the wave or the smile. She said they were both about as tiring, while the Coal Queen said the wave was definately the worst.

Henry loved the parade. This was the first one of his life, and it lived up to his expectations. He paid no attention to the smokers sitting on his right and left but held his orange "Corcoran for State Representative" bag eagerly the entire time. Political hopefuls rode on trucks, cars, 4-wheel drive vehicles while their  t-shirted volunteers tossed candy to the kids, I liked the poster this volunteer held. So hopeful and incredulous.

But there were more than policiticans and queens. Tractors and horses and marching bands roared, clopped, or tooted past. My favorites were the bands. Having played at festivals in the Chillicothe Cavalier Marching band I remember with fondness these small town parades. These bands were not as polished as ours was yet they were extemely enthusiastic.

But Henry like the tractors better. They looked to me like the toys that I and he had.

All and all it was a wonderful festival. We ate too much decadent food (deep fried dough, cotton candy, corn dogs, italian sausage, and the like) and happily groaned over it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Go Back to the Car, Dad!"

Over the last weeks I have been training Henry to walk to his class without my assistance. Or so I thought.

Before classes started, Debbie and I went with Henry to orientation. We all walked around his classroom and saw his table with his name on his spot. He like the room, as did we. On the first day of school Henry and I walked together through the double set of outside doors, through the entrance area, took a right turn into the long hallway which led to his classroom, and together journeyed to his classroom door, walked through and into his room. Henry held my hand tightly all the way. He insisted that I go into the classroom with him.

The second day  he was a little clingy. He held my leg as we entered the class. I had to peel him off of me. The day after that was better. We walked holding hands all the way down the hall to the door to his class, and I stopped just before we entered.  (You can see the door-frame in the picture. It is in the middle on the right.) He went in by himself without a problem. The next day we walked beside each other without holding hands. Each day after that I would stop farther from his class.

About a week ago he and I parted at the all important turn into the long hallway. I'd stay at that corner and watch him stride off with happy deliberation. Only once in 7 days did he turn to look back. I felt joy observing him at peace in his new world

Today he took a big step in his maturation and independence. Just as we passed through the double set of outside doors, Henry turned to me and said, "Go back to the car, Dad!" I replied, "O.K. Henry." He marched off confident in his ability to negotiate and navigate the world of school all by himself.

I laughed to myself. Here I thought I was teaching him to go by himself to school, and in the end he taught me to let go. What a great morning!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Living near the Mennonites

Henry and I were in Bainbridge (the town a mile from the farm) yesterday to get something at the hardware store. We waited in line behind a family that was dressed like it was Germany in the 1800's. The three females were dressed identically in homemade purple dresses, black bonnets, and black shoes. Two were girls (8 and 12 I guessed) and the other was their grandmother. The only difference in their apparel was that the girls had on black Sketchers basketball shoes, while their elder word tie-up leather shoes. The girls' father was quite gregarious joking with the store owner. He wore black button-up pants, blue button up shirt, and a straw hat. They drove into town in a black buggy parked a few blocks from the store. 

Life in Lancaster County Pennsylvania has become too congested for many Mennonites. Some there must feel like Daniel Boone who said that when you can see the smoke from your neighbor's cabin, it is time to move. About 15 years ago a few brave families left the familiar and sought emptier lands out west. West in this case was southern Ohio. They liked what they found. After they were established, other families came to join them. Today there is a large Mennonite community in the hills and valley south west of us. If you are motivated to take a long run -- say 7 miles or so -- you can get deliscious fresh pretzels served by polite young women speaking English with a distinctive German accent.

We have gotten to know one Mennonite family fairly well. They have the formentioned bakery and horse shoeing business. Both thrive. Dad was very good to the family when any of the kids had dental problems. He checked on one of their baby's when his  mother was concerned about his teeth. One Sunday dad took one of their older boys into his office to fix his teeth when two were knocked out. Dad loved knowing someone who gave him a window into that community. For if you are "English" (as they call non-Mennonites) it is rather tough have opportunities to make friends with them. They took the carriage 5 miles into town to pay their respects at dad's calling hours.

Saturday we took a drive out to their part of the county to buy cinnamon bread at their bakery and to see if we could see the old-fashioned harvesting. We saw men working a team of horses to cut and bale hay.

The horses are so beautiful. I felt a little self-conscious taking photos. For these are not people in "Ye Olde Dayes" theme park, but regular people living out their lives. We'd try to stop the car non-obtrusively and quickly take a picture or two. Or at least try to be non-obtrusive. The next picture was of a fabulous team driving right towards us. Aren't they magnificent!
We drove up to a little town called Cynthiana. Before the whites took over it was a Shawnee town. What follows is the picture of a gassy horse, or a horse in need of gas. And you thought they were powered by oats!

It was a great day.