Monday, September 6, 2010

Bet You’d Live Here If You Could and Be One of Us*

(* with apologies to the Go-Gos!)

When the kids asked me what we do for Labor Day in Arahmpett, I was kind of embarrassed to say “nothing.”

When I was growing up, we had some kind of town picnic/barbecue thing, where Uncle H and his pals would drive all their grills over to the parking lot at the elementary school and everyone would bring hot dogs and potato salad and jello molds – all that kind of stuff. The big thing, I remember, was that the town would pay the guy who drove the Good Humor truck in advance for his haul and he’d set up there, too, and all the kids – the grown ups too – would come running for free Chocolate Eclairs and Strawberry Shortcakes. You know, I can still taste those? They had this great cakey stuff stuck to the outside, and in the center of the vanilla ice cream was a kind of crunchy mother-lode of flavor. You had to take a really good bite to get all three layers in your mouth at the same time. I was more a licker than a biter – I had front teeth that were sensitive to cold things – but I always made an exception for Good Humor bars.

And there I go again, starting out on one thing and rambling along a side road! Back to where I started – even after my school years, it’s been a long time since Arahmpett’s done any town holidays. First it was apathy, then too many old people; now it’s the economy plus apathy and old people….Zach was especially disappointed. I think they had this idea they were moving to some kind of Heartland. I suggested maybe we try and get a committee together, see what had to be done about zoning or permits or whatever, and try to get something going for next summer. Well, Jenn must have said something to Peter, and I know I did to Leonie, so next thing you know, they decided that if the kids wanted to try and pull some kind of ad hoc thing together now, since the vineyard would be closed to the public anyway, they could use the picnic area outside the tasting room. The next morning, those kids were all over everywhere, sticking flyers under windshields.

Meanwhile, of course, the weather forecasts are dire beyond imagination about this hurricane Earl that’s due to blast the Island by Friday night and kill the entire holiday weekend. Does this stop the kids? No way, bless their crazy hearts! They just kept knocking on doors. I heard the pitch a few times, so I can tell you it was like they were running for office, the way they’d talk about how excited they are to be here and what a great town it is. The enthusiasm was too cute, but I was worried they’d be really hurt when it didn’t turn out. On the other hand, I figured Earl would cancel it anyway and we’d all be hunkering down on our own with candles, peanut butter sandwiches and bathtubs full of emergency water.

They were right and I was wrong – on everything. And am I ever glad! Earl passed us by. The weather this weekend has been so gorgeous it would make you want to come here on vacation (just kidding!). I made my way to Green Mountain noonish to help Peter and Leonie, and the kids were already there, plus a few of the hippies from the trailer park. Around 2, people started streaming in. We had folks setting up grills, all kinds of food set out on the picnic tables. Someone brought a portable volleyball net, and a game got going. A couple of the trailer park guys brought guitars, and we did some singing. George got a little too excited and started a chant to make me sing “Hard to Be a Girl”, which was embarrassing but then fun, because I got everyone to join in on the chorus. All the time, Jenn, who is some powerhouse, was working the crowd with the baby (smart girl!), meeting and greeting and getting people to put down their names for a town “event planning” committee. It was a great day. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many Arahmpetteers in one place – and all smiling even! And enough people hung around to help clean up, so Green Mountain doesn’t look like a trainwreck.

We might have a real town here again!

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