Skip to content

Hunt the squirrel

October 18, 2010

I turned the article in late Friday night, but spent the weekend suffering from deadline hangover, that feeling that you are still supposed to be working. But it was a gorgeous weekend and I promised myself I’d put the computer away for a couple of days.

Fortunately, the weather has been stellar and there’s been a lot of things to do that have gotten me out of the house. Yesterday, AJ’s football team played an amazing game against the best team in the league. They dominated the game in the first half, which ended with no score by either team. But they lost heart when they made a mistake that let the other team score, and promptly made another one that let them score again. And then the game was pretty much over. They all looked discouraged as they sat listening to the coach talk to them after the game. But honestly, I’ve never seen them play better. Sometimes you just lose. Their best play of the game was apparently one called by AJ. The other teams defense was really good and they couldn’t break through. AJ suggested a solution that the coach hadn’t considered. The coach decided to use it and it got them a first down. AJ was proud and so was I. AJ’s a good athlete, but he’s not tough like his friend N, who is the kind of guy who would keep playing with a broken nose, if you’d let him, completely oblivious to the blood gushing down his face. The lack of toughness means he’s not the best on his team, but he’s still pretty good. But he is better than anybody at understanding football strategy. I think that’s what he likes about the game. It’s like chess, except you don’t have to sit still and be quiet.

I came home and took a nap — I’m about to hit the two week mark of post-flu-shot illness, which is wearing me down, and the last crush to get the article done meant I lost some serious sleep this week. There is nothing better than a quiet nap on a sunny afternoon.

After I woke myself up, AJ and I jumped in the car and headed to The World’s Largest Corn Maze to meet up with our local Cub Scout pack and about 90 gazillion other people. It’s at a real working family farm, currently run by generations 4, 5 and 6 of the Richardson family, but it’s clear their primary business is tourism. There was a lot going on. The first thing AJ and I did was climb the observation tower to get a look at the maze from above. But despite the height of the tower, we really couldn’t see very much of the shape of the maze. The maze was actually a bunch of smaller mazes connected into one big field making a picture. The themes change from year to year. This year, it was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts. You can see an aerial photo of it at the link above. When you enter, they hand you a map. There are checkpoints throughout the mazes with different shaped hole punches at each one. If you collect all of them (a rare feat, as the maze is ENORMOUS), there is some kind of prize. Many of the mini-mazes were themed, and that’s what kept AJ having fun. One had us pressing our fingers into different colored makeup at the checkpoints. At the end, you found the pattern you made on your fingers on a big chart and it told your “finger fortune.” AJ’s was “You are very competitive.” “That’s true,” he nodded. Mine was “You know how to close a deal.” Maybe because I got my article finished on time? There was also a quiz maze, where a series of quiz questions gave you clues to how to find the checkpoints. There were different sets of questions to suit different ages and tastes. Of course, when we saw the questions labeled “AJ’s quz,” we stopped looking at our options. AJ’s favorite question: “How many people a year die from flatulence?” [answer: 2]. AJ has spent the rest of the weekend trying to figure out how one would expire from excess farting. Now there’s a research project for a 9-year-old boy, if I ever heard one.

After the corn maze, we ran into AJ’s friend O, his little brother Q and their mom, my friend L. After a quick bathroom stop, we headed to watch the pig races. AJ took a video:

That’s AJ and his friend chortling.

After the pig races, we watched teenagers in t-shirts and welding helmets make kettle corn in enormous vats. We bought a bag and ate half. And headed to our pack’s campsite for a bonfire and s’mores while the kids ran around with flashlights. We drove home in the darkest dark through farm fields lit only by the crescent moon and millions of stars.

Sunday we were all tired and took our time getting going in the morning. We had originally planned to go downtown for the annual Pilsen Art Walk, but Mr. Spy was stressing about work and no one felt much like being in the car for that long on such a beautiful day. Instead, I took AJ and The Boy Across the Street to the historical reenactment camp we have gone to for the last several years. We’ve been to a few other such things, but this is my favorite, because the hike through a forest and across a prairie preserve is gorgeous. The weather was spectacular and there were many, many more people there than last year. But the space is so open, that it wasn’t unpleasant. We visited crafts tents, drank homemade root beer, tried pioneer games, walked on stilts, pretended to sleep on a bed made of straw, looked in a teepee, talked to British soldiers about rifles. We also watched a battle reenactment — the clear winner of the day for he kids — and contradancing, which was my favorite. Here is some video of the last two events. The reenactment camp spans events from the late 1600s to 1850, but the battle is late 18th century. A British regiment was trying to take a bridge. It was really entertaining to see. We watched one American soldier get “shot” off a small wall. He limped down to the pond, removed an enormous bandanna from his pocket and began soaking it in pond water and sponging his “wounds.” Eventually, a British soldier sneaked down and shot him, whereupon he fell into the pond and floated in the water until the reenactment was finished. Meanwhile, the British solder stole his cloak and hat, which had been left at the water’s edge, and disguised himself. But as is the way of such reenactments, the Americans won in the end. When the British marched back across the bridge, everyone cheered.

The contradance is one called “Hunt the Squirrel,” a tune still played today in Irish seisiuns. The emcee announced before they began that we should look for something a little out of the ordinary in the dance that would tell us why it was called “Hunt the Squirrel.” The boys were expecting an actual squirrel hunt, I think. But instead, they got men and women chasing each other around the dance floor. I was interested in the band, which is a period instrument wind band, complete with a serpent — not an instrument you see every day.

Today started with an email from my editor that begins “I think you did a fantastic job revising this…” There is a little more work to do, but very little. Today’s project involves chasing down higher quality versions and permissions for my photos and signing my contract with the press. The hope is that the book will be published next year in time for the fall conference season. I am chapter 2.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    October 18, 2010 9:41 am

    Congrats, Chapter Two. Glad you had a good weekend outside.

  2. October 18, 2010 10:01 am

    Wow. You hardly ever hear that kind of thing from an editor! And it sure sounds like you’re active, for a convalescing person.

  3. October 18, 2010 11:12 am

    Yeah chapter two! And agritainment/agritourism is still fun, if a bit dopey. Anything to help the farmers actually have the money to farm!

  4. Cranky permalink
    October 18, 2010 11:26 am


    [it’s nice to have a context for this phrase that doesn’t involve trying to get a stubborn baby to eat a little more rice cereal and apple sauce.]

  5. October 18, 2010 11:43 am

    Just wait until the context is trying to get said baby to poop on the potty. Much fun lies ahead… I have been extremely lucky to work with this editor, who I first met when we were on the same panel at a conference a number of years ago (the first time I’d given a paper in public after my prodigal return). He’s been a mentor and cheerleader as well as an editor. He’s been very supportive of my work — he can get me excited about it when I’m burning out — and is still an exceptionally meticulous editor. I bet he’s a fantastic thesis advisor. I’m not sure why he’s taken me under his wing, but I’m very grateful. When it comes time to get outside references, he’ll be first on my list to call.

  6. eleanorio permalink
    October 18, 2010 2:56 pm

    An amazing maize maze!

  7. readersguide permalink
    October 18, 2010 8:00 pm

    Hooray hooray hooray!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: