First, it all started a week before. Busy schedule and mandatory overtime have eaten into what time we had, but we reserved the weekends for as much fun and catch up work as possible. After Mass on Sunday, we visited my old stomping grounds outside of Mt. Gilead, Ohio. A Lutheran camp is there, as it was when I was in school. It was the location of our sixth grade annual camp, from Wednesday to Friday, usually the first week of November.
Each year they have a Maple Syrup festival and in the fall, an Apple Butter Festival. I forgot about the place for the longest time. In my ministry days, however, I was part of the local Ministerial Association. And in the first week of November, usually the first Wednesday, we would gather in the morning to noontime and discuss Advent preparations. We would also have a break, and that's when I left and strolled by myself around the leaves and remnants of the foliage. The trees were always yellow. There was a section of old pines, and an ancient beech tree that was there when I was a kid, fenced in to keep people from getting to close. Alas, the ages finally took their toll. The pine trees are now where locals who keep the camp have a trailer, and the ancient beech that endured year after year of curious kids, including an old photo shoot of my own boys, succumbed to time. We also found out my old school has long since stopped bringing kids here for camp. Still, it was a good time, if not a bit somber.
Because of the feelings from seeing the old tree down, and the lack of funds for good old Apple Butter specials (though we did splurge on some fresh apple dumplings), we got in the car and rode up to Mt. Gilead proper, to take in a first leg in our annual Cemetery Ghost Run. More of a formality now, when the boys were little, it was a time to scare and frighten, tell ghost stories, look at creepy old mausoleums, and if a strange, unexplained noise suddenly burst forth, all the better! We do it now for our youngest. Though this time, there were some pretty eerie occurrences.
Finally we went to old State Lakes, the local state park. Not much more than a reservoir, it has some nice hiking trails, and a few memories. I used to run the trails in cross country. Years later, we used to bring the boys here back in the day when I would take them to my old homecoming games and parades. Now they are bigger, their school has replaced mine, as it should be. But we went back through the trail to an old creek where my second boy famously lost a shoe when he was little, and where this time we saw a pile of clothes that looked a lot like state issue. Beating a hasty retreat, we made it back to the van, then home in time for some Halloween fun with the Peanuts Gang, after stopping by to see the house my Dad built.
|Our youngest being awesomely photogenic at the Apple Butter festival|
|Trying their hands at a homemade slingshot - they almost got the target|
|Another shameless shot of our youngest, not quite sure what to do on a bouncy toy|
|Symbolic of the recent years of our lives, a vibrant tree around which the boys posed all those years ago|
|The Ghost Walk 2013 begins!|
|This begs for a caption|
|The boys at Gilead State Park, displaying their unique personalities|
|Running in their own ways|
|This was a week earlier, at a place we usually wind up the Ghost Walks, but couldn't resist the picture|
More to come in A full rich week, Part II!!