Do you know that scene in Top Gun when Tom Cruise is flying an F-16 and a MIG is gaining on him fast? Tom pulls on the brakes and the Soviet menace flies by (and then gets a missile up his tail pipe). That strategy works well with travel too. Don’t like the weather or the neighbors or the noise? Just stay put and it will pass. Take today for example. We went to the Fall Fest at the Nature Center (near the corner of Pulaski and Peterson). Last year we went with Henna’s Girl Scout troop and we were two dozen in a sea of thousands. That is how it is every fall and somewhere we have photos of infant Henna being carried through a mass of scarecrow building families. The scarecrow building contest by the way, is just one of many fun activities. You can also listen to the incredibly talented story-teller Mark Kater spin his magic, cut tree rings under the supervision of our friend Ted, and talk football with neighbor Bob (landscape architect at the Nature Center). Actually you cannot do the last item. He is much, much too busy on that special day to say more than hello. That is, of course, until today. Today was different from any other fall festival ever attended by us at the Nature Center. Today was the day it rained for all but one hour of the festival. We actually have never built a scarecrow either (too crowded!). Today we did under our umbrellas and a tent that was a bit too small. Today was the day we parked at the main lot that is just a few yards from the main building (usually we park about half a mile away). The lines were short at the hot dog stand (the one manned each year by a nearby parochial school’s men’s club) and there were no trinkets or produce to buy at the outdoor market because there was no outdoor market. If last year the number attending was in the thousands this year it was in the dozens.
But there were plenty of friends to see such as Ted, whom I have known since being first introduced to him by Corey in that short period of time when we were just good friends. After we got married (and just before a road trip) he taught us how to change a tire. He is also an outdoor enthusiast who loves to teach what he knows and has the kindest heart possible. It was good talking to him by the fire. Later we also talked to Bob’s wife Jessica and their daughter Annabelle about school and other neighborhood gossip. As for Bob it was fun asking him how the Packers are doing. There was an Irish folk band there too (One of The Girls) who played soulful music perfect for a rainy day. Mark also told his stories and although we have heard him tell most of them before, we listened as intently as ever. And I got to the hot dog stand tent just before they closed up shop. For the first time I made conversation with the men manning the dogs and we joked about the crummy weather. A panel of judges (actually maybe just Bob) determined our scarecrow to be the zaniest which earned us a wooden cookie medal. Henna was incredibly excited by this and did not seem to get that there were only about ten entries and seven awards given. The rain by that time had cleared and we had the trails all to ourselves. We had stood still and the world had reshuffled the deck to our advantage.