We took a break on Saturday – almost the first seriously cool autumn day – after the Daughter Unit finished prepping at her real estate broker’s office for a property showing on Sunday afternoon. She was home by afternoon, and that was when I told her that the Catholic parish beyond the green belt behind our house was having their fall festival. All morning, I had listened to the sounds of a live band or music on the public address system, and I could look out the kitchen window and see the pavilions set up in the parking lot, and the crowds of people moving from booth to booth. St. H—‘s has staged their yearly event regularly, and we have checked it out frequently: many of our close neighbors attend services there regularly. To our amusement when we heard about this – as well as the amusement of that friend who reported it to us, the parish priest there once preached a sermon on the topic of adapting to new circumstances and specifically mentioned our rooster, Larry Bird, whose crowing the priest could hear across the green belt. Country people, the priest said – who had brought their ways with them to the suburb and yet adapted … he got a whole sermon out of it, and our friends realized that it was Larry that he heard, and she knew very well that the Daughter Unit and I are confirmed suburbanites with a taste for fresh eggs and a back yard just barely large enough to indulge a few live chickens.
Anyway, we decided to put Wee Jamie in the stroller and walk by the shortest way; up to the top of the neighborhood and through the small extension, which was being built when we moved in, twenty-five years ago. We paused to admire the classic 1950s sedan owned by one of the residents there; an Air Force veteran like myself. He had purchased and driven that sedan from Colorado a few years ago, and then lovingly restored it to better-than-original condition. That afternoon, it was parked on the street for all to appreciate. Them we pushed the stroller along a rough path beaten across a corner of the green belt to St. H—‘s. People like to let their dogs off the leash in the green belt meadow. Sometimes we see people riding ATVs around the green belt, and now and again there is a game of football or baseball going on there.
We walked around to the front of the parish hall. There were some small vendors inside the main room, mostly selling handmade stuff and religious memorabilia. A side room had the items for a silent auction – nothing that either of us were interested in bidding for. Outside, on a small scrap of tended lawn there was an autumn-themed nook of haybales, pillows, fall foliage and cushions for the purpose of picture-taking. In the parking lot to the east of the main church and parish hall, they had set up the usual sorts of game and food booths, with the center given over to tables and chairs set up under a series of small pavilions. The food booths – tacos, hamburgers, hot dogs, paletas (ice cream and popsicles) were the usual kind of festival food, managed by volunteers from the parish. They were were doing a booming business, as it was a little after noon. There was a good crowd of adults, teenagers and small children, some of them in Halloween costumes. It seemed as if the most popular game booth was the ducking booth – Duck the Deacon, although the kids were most interested in the fishing booth. We walked around for a bit, said ‘hi’ to a couple of neighbors that we knew, and then walked back through the green belt and the neighborhood.
Being a Saturday and a pleasant day, we saw people outside. We stopped to talk to one, who was setting up Halloween lawn decorations, somewhat assisted by his toddler-aged daughter. Poor child – she is a magnet for every possible cold, fever and rash that small children can attract. We admired the very elaborate Halloween decorations that two other neighbors have put in their yards, waved to a third, driving past in his pickup truck. Yet another neighbor family were hosting a gathering at their house, which had spilled out of the party space in their garage and into chairs in the driveway, for the street by their house was lined with vehicles on both sides.
It was all very pleasant, prosaic, even – but oddly satisfactory, almost like our road trip to Kingsland in June. A nice fall day, neighbors out doing ordinary tasks in their yards, the blue sky overhead, a cool breeze rustling the leaves about to turn all colors, and the music from St. H—‘s faint in the background. The quiet, unspectacular pleasures of a suburban life – all the more precious for what one reads and sees on line, of violent protests, urban crime, and governmental malfeasance. There are still nice things in life – everything isn’t awful.