Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Small town fun

So, it's almost Halloween. Lily is going to be a gypsy. Tomorrow is the annual Halloween work party, which is loads of fun. The leaves are mostly gone from the trees now and are now all over my yard, but they were lovely while they lasted and I still see some nice ones, occasionally. I turned a corner the other day and drove through a row of bright yellow trees. Gorgeous. How do you write about this stuff? I need a poet. Calling a poet!

The sky is incredible these days, just huge and expansive. I never realized how enormous it is, and that's here, in a valley with lots of trees. I've never been to Big Sky country and I can only imagine why they call it that. Our clouds are huge, not wimpy little puffy things on deep blue fields of blue, as in the summer, but dark and full. Harry Potter clouds -- ever notice how it's always gray and cold in the fall, and they are always playing Quidditch in it? That's what it's been like these past couple of days, rainy and gray, and today we even had snow flurries, although I didn't see them. A colleague at work did, and so did Lily, who was hiking for a school geology field trip. She'd gone out of the house this morning with just a sweatshirt and no winter jacket, despite my reminding her. I didn't realize it 'til we got to the bus, and our wonderful driver agreed to meet us at the state police barracks near our house, which is on the way for him, while I raced home to get her snow jacket. When I got her this afternoon after school she looked freezing. She'd been outside almost all day, visiting three different places, and she looked raw and worn.

Small town living includes not just more awareness about the weather and the environment in general, but also things like corn mazes, including Mike's Maze in Sutherland, which has a cool theme to it every year. This time it's The Odysessy, and you go from clue to clue, reading descriptions of different parts of the story. There's a spud gun, that shoots potatoes across the field, 2 bucks for three spuds. There's a pretty good grill for burgers and fries, and a few other things for kids of all ages. Really well done and I'm sorry I missed Louis Armstrong last year, which apparently had musical clues.

On another recent weekend we went to the open house at the Northampton Fire Department, and climbed inside an ambulance and a ladder truck and a hose truck, whatever it's called. We met a lot of safety folks and saw a ton of very excited small children. We watched while the firemen demonstrated how to extinguish a fire in your oven or on your burner. And we watched them suit up when they got a call and take off. Apparently they were responding to a call about smoke in a house. On Monday I casually asked someone I work with how her weekend was, and she said, "fine, except I turned on the furnace for the first time in my new apartment and the room filled with smoke." Small town, huh?

Then we went over to the agricultural open house at Smith Vocational High School. We patted the cows and horses and Lily would not leave the rabbit cages. She went on a hay ride and the whole time she talked about what she would study if she went there (there's quite a range of areas). The first time she said it I had to bite my tongue and not inflict her with my class issues. My kid's not going to a vocational high school! I thought. She's going on to an academic school. I'm not proud of my reaction -- hey, she can be anything she wants to be, right? -- but there it is. I've met great people here who are farmers and health technicians and hair stylists and auto body workers, and if Lily can find happiness at Smith Voc, god bless her, I'll support that.

I mean, I'm the one who has always told her that she doesn't have to go to college, which is probably my reaction to feeling like I had to go, when I really wasn't ready. (I lasted one semester at Johns Hopkins before I packed it in and took off to work on crew at Farm and Wilderness for six months.) And I mean it too, she doesn't, although that doesn't mean she can sit around the house eating Oreos all day. She'll have to get a job and pay rent. Dropping out of college was the best thing I did at the time. When I finally went back I knew what my alternatives were, and that motivated me. So now with Lily I have to honor and respect her choices, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

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