Every fall rain or shine – shine is better – the trek to a town 30 minutes to the south (is anything in Connecticut really south?) is made by he and his boys and this one-day round trip has been made ten years running and now seems like a reflex rather than a plan. For the kids it’s a way to celebrate the apple harvest by downing fritters then riding the tilt-a-whirl followed by a valiant attempt to retain the fritters. For him it’s a pilgrimage to the town of his youth while trying to recapture a fleeting glimpse of 1974 and if he looked down Main Street and squinted towards the town green he could almost make it out.
Surrounded by the sounds of marching bands and shrieks and giggles with yellow balloons against a cobalt sky and the red brick town in the front and the orange hills in the back he stood in a New England version of an autumnal eye-of -the storm. Suddenly convinced that he was silent and alone while all of October rotated around him in a cool swirl of air and the warm smells of caramel apples and kettle corn he closed his eyes and took a breath and then another.
The boys had grown up with a tradition, but for their father this was a religion, and somewhere between face painting and shaving and red wagons and car keys the two had figured their dad out – today perhaps it was the look on his face or his slower-than-normal gait or that they had been ready to leave for a while and he had not.
As the day began to fade and the car headed north, with headlights joining twilight, they said dad can you drive us by your old house?
copyright 2012 Steven Harz