Today I pulled out my fluffy (too warm for the summer) bathrobe. It’s already raining here in Portland, which is a bad thing, given that it’s not even October yet. It’s definitely Fall.
I always know it’s Autumn when the grapes on the vines that cover my car port are ripe…it smells like a huge jar of Welch’s grape jelly was just opened up. I look forward to that smell all year. They’re wine grapes and not good to eat, but every year my neighbor asks if she and her husband can pick them. I know that these folks are teetotaling church goers with a vengeance, but I don’t ask what they do with all those wine grapes. I get a kick out of thinking about this sweet little grandma and grandpa making ‘grape juice’ and getting snockered (“Mother…let’s let it sit for a while…it brings out the flavor”). I’m just glad they want them. If not picked, the grapes start to ferment on the vine, and then I get drunk birds flying into my windows (it’s happened before). Drunk neighbors beat drunk crows any time!
Smelling those grapes reminds me of the scuppernong grapes that grew on vines we had in our backyard growing up. They tasted nasty, which only confirmed my belief that it’s just wrong to eat anything that grows in your yard. (I later reluctantly amended that to allow things that you planted yourself…those are ok.)
My sister Lynnie just loved to play outside in the yard, and to her those damn scuppernongs were a blessing. She used them to make ‘wine’ (that not even she dared drink)…similar to the ‘ink’ (aka ‘stain creating juice’) she made from wisteria blossoms. That child loved to create concoctions out of anything she could find, usually resulting in most of the science project getting all over her. I, on the other hand, was in the house reading or drawing or doing homework…there was dirt outside and I wasn’t having any of it. Lynnie got plenty dirty enough for both of us!
Another thing that Fall reminds me of is the State Fair. It’s not a big deal to me here in Oregon, but every October back in South Carolina we got really excited about the fair. When we were lucky we got to go on the Friday that all school kids had off early for ‘Fair Day’. We always hoped that it wouldn’t still be hot, so we could wear sweaters…a way to acknowledge that Fall had really arrived.
The fair in S.C. has one thing that makes it unique…a rocket. The fairgrounds has a 1960’s era Jupiter ballistic missile designed by Wernher van Braun sitting right inside the main entrance. It’s a landmark, and any little kid who wanders away from their family gets paged with a loud message over the speakers, “Tammy (or whoever), meet your mother at the rocket”. I lived in fear of being paged like that (you mean everyone at the fair would know I was stupid enough to get lost?), so I stayed close to my Mama. Also, she had me pretty well convinced that the Booger Man really was out there, and I figured the fair was as good a place as any to meet him.
The other thing you could always count on at the fair was my throwing up. It was inevitable. I got sick to my stomach easily as a kid…I had a ‘delicate’ constitution. Fill a kid like that up with elephant ears and corn dogs, add in a little cotton candy or a caramel apple for good measure…then shake ’em up on the Scrambler or even those spinning tea cup things…well, in my case it was a baddddd mix. My most memorable ride involved actually losing my cookies while still ON the ride…all over Mama and Lynnie. I just remember us screaming at the guy to, “Pleeeeeeease stop this thing!” (And yes, this is my second throw-up post…how humiliating!)
So here I sit in what husband #1 used to call a ‘birth control bathrobe’ (cause no one wants you looking like this), huddled up, thinking about looking for a pair of socks for my cold feet. I’m also pondering two things–1. why on EARTH did I look forward to the fair as a kid, given that it rarely ended well?–and 2. I wonder where I could get an elephant ear in this town?