Saturday, September 9, 2006

Happy Fall Weekend

I used to love the first day of school. It was the signal to start over, stock up on new supplies, and buy one or two new outfits. Most importantly, it was the start of fall – the best season! In my New England childhood, that meant jumping in piles of rust-toned leaves (and watching out for the occasional slug), eating Crockpot meals like beef stew and pot roast, and the annual farewell to my pollen-induced allergies. Hooray!

Well, my mid-Atlantic leaves are still green, and my allergies haven't quite gone away yet, but this weekend, despite the 70-degree weather and the sound of lawnmowers in the background, is when fall starts for me, and here’s why:

Today: The first University of Delaware football game
Thanks to the generosity of JG’s parents, we have season tickets to go see the University of Delaware football team, and today is the season opener against West Chester University. The game will probably be a blowout because WCU isn’t even in the same division as we are, but it’s a traditional rivalry, and it’s nice to start out the season with a win. I didn’t enjoy football at all before I met JG; as far as I was concerned, the football field was primarily for marching band practice, as I’ve implied before. When I had to give up the band in college due to schedule conflicts, JG and I took advantage of the free student section of the football games – awful seats behind the goal post – and he taught me how to watch the game. At first, I just watched the scoreboard and listened to the announcer, and honestly, from that viewpoint, you can’t tell whether the guys go 5 yards or 50. Soon, though, I began to notice that the same guy usually ran or threw, and I kept hearing the same names over the loudspeaker for completed passes or blitzes. In the weeks before UD won the Division 1-AA National Championship in 2003, JG and I were at every playoff game, even when we had to chip snow and ice off our bleacher seats, and I was as good a football fan as any. Tonight, I’m looking forward to seats on the home side (such luxury!), and I’ll be able to see my friends in the band as well as tell how far plays run. Plus, we’re bringing a sort of tailgate dinner, and there’s always a chance that we’ll run into the mascot in the parking lot!

Tomorrow: The 21st Annual Mushroom Festival
The farms in our little town in Pennsylvania produce half of the world’s mushrooms (I should note here that I love the little fungi and JG has grown to tolerate them), and there is a festival each year to celebrate our major export. It’s always the weekend after Labor Day, and it is a quintessential small town activity, except that it’s infused with mushrooms. There’s an antique car parade, a rock climbing wall for kids, animals up for adoption from the SPCA, and stalls upon stalls of free giveaways and samples from local businesses. The town closes off its main street around the square, and signs in the periphery read, “Mushroom Festival 9/9-9/10. Suggest another route.” Last year at this time, the offer that JG and I made on our house had just been accepted, so we decided to go to the festival to get a taste of what our new town would be like. We paid five bucks for parking and ambled around, checking out the old cars, watching street performers, and buying a snack of the best fried mushrooms caps we’ve ever had. We stumbled upon a used bookstore that was having its grand opening that day, and we came away with handfuls of dollar novels and random other reading material. The Mushroom Festival is special to JG and me, and I can’t wait to walk up and catch the cooking demonstrations from area chefs tomorrow afternoon. This time, I’ll bring my camera and hopefully get shots of all of the random mushroom-shaped paraphernalia that showed up last year, everything from lawn sculptures to bird houses to candle holders. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for those fried mushrooms, too.

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