Friday, October 16, 2009

Story Time

The Kid loves story time. Every night before bed, we read a story or two.

We recently picked up "Going on a Bear Hunt", which at first glance seems like an odd title for a two year old. I mean, how many two year olds are out hunting bears?

One of the fun things we like to do is let The Kid finish each phrase or sentence in the book. For some reason, she really took to this one. It has a repeating chorus which was fairly easy to remember.

I mean seriously. How cute is that?

Am I the luckiest guy in the world or what?

Every day is a beautiful day.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Going Home and Coming Home

We took The Kid on her first airplane ride last weekend up to the old family farm in Rhode Island. The Farmhouse itself was built in the 1820's, and has been in my father's family for a few generations. When I was born, my great-grandmother was living there, along with some of her siblings and their children. My grandparents moved there in the mid 80's.

My father spent a chunk of his childhood living there, and it was, in his adulthood, the home of his grandparents as it is now for me. Alas, it appears that the last generation of my clan is living there now. It is improbable that either my father or his brother will move into the house. What will become of the property after that is anyone's guess.

The Kid loved the plane ride, as the next 2 pictures will attest. She was an absolute delight and thought that zipping through the air was the neatest thing ever.

The majority of my father's family lives within an hour or so drive from the Farm, to include aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and assorted other relatives whose relational definition is best left to genealogists. What the heck am I to my great-uncle's children's children? What is their relation to The Kid? Why do I care? In any case, a good deal of them came over one or both days. I think there were 16 for dinner on Saturday.

The youngest in attendance was 4 months (my cousin's newborn) and the oldest was 89, my grandfather. He'll be 90 in January. Speaking of my grandfather, he's been farming (you can't call what he does gardening) since Noah was a midshipman. He plants a plethora of veggies every year. Peas, corn, carrots, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, squash, and everything else. He's had to cut back in recent years due to advancing age. He only had about 1/2 acre this year. Yeah. I have a 2 foot by 3 foot "garden" in my back yard that's too much for me sometimes. We should all be as lucky as him.

The Kid enjoyed corn-on-the-cob for the first time, grown by the same person who grew the first ear of corn I ever ate.

There were a lot of moments like that this weekend. My great uncle and I swapped stories about pubs we visited in the UK. I was there as a reservist. He was there during the war. B-24 Liberators. Silver Star and the DFC. That's a lot to live up to. And a debt we all owe.

We arrived on a picture-perfect New England autumn afternoon. If you close your eyes and imagine your most idyllic scene, that's probably pretty close. I took a short walk down the road from the Farm to the old mill pond and this is what I found:

Pictures just can't do justice to the scene.

We went to a local apple orchard's pumpkin festival for hot cider, pies, donuts, and a hay ride.

Sunday morning was cold. First frost I'd seen this season.

That's one of my grandfather's gardens. There is another one the same size behind the house. Impressive, no? When I got back inside after taking the picture, I was glad to see the woodstove going.

We flew home on Sunday. It was bittersweet to leave, but to stay would have been to tempt the fates for delivering us such a perfect weekend. My grandmother got to see 6 of her 9 great-grandchildren at once. That doesn't happen very often.

It's hard to find the right words to describe what the whole weekend was like. All around us were scenes that were so idealized that had I not been there in person, I wouldn't have believed it. Like driving on the kind of leaf-covered back road that you only see in car commercials. Colonial houses that don't look a bit out of place, mostly because they date to the actual colonial era. A den of Cub Scouts learning how cider gets made. Leaves that were changing color almost by the hour. My wife and daughter walking through a pumpkin patch looking for the perfect one. The only restriction being that it was small enough for The Kid to carry. She didn't want it to be one that we picked out. It was hers. She ended up giving it to her great-grandmother, who loved it.

Anyway, I'll post some more of the pics (sans commentary) later.