Last year around this time we went to the Hesston Steam Museum, as we do every year, to ride the steam trains and enjoy the fall weather (there was none) the apple cider (there was none) and Joe Jackson's Fruit Stand (there was none).
The weather was in the 80s. Not bad in and of itself but not appropriate for a "crisp, fall day".
The cider shed was closed. It was closed the year before, too. There are other places to get cider but unfortunately the only cider you can get around here has been pasteurized AND costs about $5 a half gallon.
The cider shed presses the cider on the spot, charges $2.50 a gallon (maybe it's $3) and the cider is guaranteed to get "hard" in a couple days. Anybody who knows their cider knows that that's the whole point.
Joe Jackson's moved sometime in the past couple years. On the old site they are building a condo development called "The Cornerstone". Joe Jackson's was the farm market in New Buffalo, MI, that carried produce from local farmers. Apples, melons, squash, onions, potatoes, just about anything you could want. Louise was good for at least an hour, comparing the relative merits of carnival squash against delicata, ambercup against acorn, and did she need three bags of apples or four?
That's all in the past. The new Joe Jackson's is just not the same. It's farther up the road, well away from traffic and the parking lot has lost its chaotic dodge-em-cars charm.
We go to Hesston every year at this time. Several years ago we celebrated our 25th anniversary there with train rides, stops at the apple barn and the sausage shop, and dinner at Hannah's in New Buffalo. It was a great party.
Last year, only Bill's folks made the trip to join us. What the party lacked in numbers it made up for in grim humor. We rode the "ghost train" and took delight in making sure the wussy kids in our car were genuinely scared by the lame witches, ghosts, goblins and silly "scary" story told by the conductor as we chugged along.
But the creepy guy with the chain saw - - - THAT scared the kids, even the ones that were too big and too cool to be scared by ghost stories. I guess there's something about crackly autumn leaves and the smell of burning coal, the chug, smoke and hiss of a vintage steam locomotive, that really sets the mood for an insane lumberjack to emerge from an abandoned sawmill, chain saw growling, as he rushes at the passing train. I think some of the littler kids had to change their costumes before trick-or-treat.
We did not make it to Hesston this year. Beth asked me about it. Our friends were not able to go and Bill and I did not have the heart to go alone. As more of the "attractions" disappear, the disappointment increases. Maybe we'll have to find a new autumn destination - or maybe a year off will put new allure into the outing. We'll let you know next year whether we resume the annual tradition. Maybe you can join us.
Quotable Quotes; in the category Well That's The Way I Remember It!
"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life." P.D. James