ri and timmy

Riley, Dom and cousin Timmy, the birthday boy.

It’s swinging into foliage season here in Vermont and it’s kind of cool to see it with brand new eyes. I’ve never lived here full-time during foliage that I have a memory of. I try really hard not to be those obnoxious “leaf peepers” who slow roll through town and generally piss off the locals. But it’s so pretty, y’all…sometimes it’s hard not to be really obnoxious with the gawking.

It was Columbus Day weekend around here (probably around where you are too, I reckon, hahah!) and we finally got out of the house and on the road.

On Saturday, we headed to my aunt Dee’s place for a fall festival that also celebrated her daughter and grandson’s October birthdays.  My kids pretty much love any occasion I let them out in public, so they were thrilled at the chance to see their cousins and aunts. I always worry taking my horde of maniacs anywhere new for the first time because I feel like I need to do a security sweep of the place before I can let them through the front door—not for their safety but for you and all of your valuables.

There was no real reason to worry, though. My kids were actually well behaved and had a blast. We ate chilli until our sides hurt. Patrick ate his weight in clam chowder and we ate donuts off strings (mostly so the non-participants could laugh at us) and I even attempted a blueberry pie eating contest. (Here’s a hint: don’t try laughing and snarfing pie at the same time).

Mostly, though, I sort of sit back in times like these and marvel at how we ended up here. Family gatherings were pretty rare for me growing up because I was in Texas (and Alaska, and Virginia) and they were all…well…here. So I’m still getting used to the fact that I get to see all these characters ALL THE TIME!!!!

We had a blast and I had to threaten the lives of the kids’ electronics to get them to leave peacefully and without a scene!

nanny and brandy

My cousin, my other cousin’s new baby and my awesome grandmother rockin 92 years and going strong…

party game andrew

Andrew and Dominic, playing the donut game.

Riley donut

Riley working on her donut aim…

makenna pout

Makenna making it clear she’s not ready to leave the party yet.

Ready for the ghost story?

Earlier this afternoon (Columbus Day itself), I grabbed a couple pumpkins, called my mom for directions and ran home to grab the family. We were going to pay a visit to Pop and aunt Cheryl’s grave. I wasn’t in Vermont for their funerals and I’ve never really said goodbye. Mom’s directions were spot on and soon, I was standing there wondering how one really says goodbye to loved ones already long gone? Mostly I just said that I was sorry for taking so long and hoped they were sitting up there enjoying the foliage as much as I was.

Ugh…I’m not much of an orator and I felt extra silly because Patrick, the great big, supportive lug, was standing right there with me. I’m hoping Pop and Cheryl got more of the feeling behind the sentiments and didn’t concentrate too hard on the words.

larsen stone

The kids picked out special pebbles and left them on top of the gravestone and then, once we shook Makenna down for the quarters she pilfered from the stone, we were set. I tried to explain the tradition behind the coins (traditionally, coins were meant to pay the fare of the departed as they crossed the river Styx), but mostly I just had to dig the stolen quarters out of Makenna’s pants and try not to lose my cool in the graveyard. I think Makenna impressed a couple spirits there with her pluck, actually.

I’ll explain…

On the other side of the cemetery, I finished up taking a few photos. Here’s one…

stone angel

And as we were walking back, ALL of us watched in shock as Makenna walked ahead of us and found herself in the center of two leaves that came UP FROM THE  GROUND and swirled two perfect circles around her before returning to the ground…and the HUNDREDS of other leaves. That didn’t move on their own. That didn’t even shake or jump…because there wasn’t any WIND.

I looked at Patrick. I looked at Dominic. They’d both seen the same thing and had the same expression on their faces that I did. We sort of marveled at it and wondered if it was someone saying hello from the other side and then we sorta run-walked to the truck in case the friendly spirit had anymore tricks up their sleeves. Me heart couldn’t handle any more excitement…

We stopped in Saxtons River and played leaf peeper for a few shots before calling it a day.

saxtons river 2

I try not to make too much out of things like this…but on a day like today, when the weather and the scenery are perfect…you can’t help but think you might not be the only ones around enjoying the season.

…happy happy happy…