A Sunday in October and we are made for the farm, for apple cider donuts that melt in our mouths and give us sticky fingers that call to the bees. For the barn where we pet goats and sheep and pot-bellied pigs, where my daughter stands still, fingers laced through the bars of the cage to quietly watch the newborn cats. Where, finally, we escape the heavy crowds for the calm of the corn maze.
The air in the maze is green, the ground a muddy clay. Above our heads, the stalks of corn whisper about autumn and blue skies and the wingspan of crows.
In the middle of our journey we climb a bridge to the sky. Stand at the top and watch the corn roll around us in waves, an endless green sea. We climb back down and continue on our way, stopping at every mud puddle so my daughter can splash, stake her claim.
At last we find a wooden likeness of the Space Needle, but the main attraction is the puddle of mud before it. My daughter is in it in an instant, jumping and rolling, a dirt-streaked mess. But we let her stay and play some more, because we want her to grow up knowing what it is to feel mud squeezed between her fingers, the warm, thick feel of it squelching down into her boots.
Other families stop and watch her, tell us that we are awesome, that we are brave. But like so much else in life, it is not really about us at all. We simply show up and watch this sweet girl. Let her be brave in a way that asks us gently to match her excitement with patience of our own.
After, we lay her on the long grass of the meadow to clean her, but her hair is coated and can’t be helped. On the way home we stop for steaming bowls of pho. Wash her hands in the restaurant bathroom, leave a trail of dust wherever we go.
Photo credit: Ian Grant Photography