After our race on Monday, Philip and I took the kids to downtown Lennox, S.D., to watch their small-town parade. I’ve heard good things about it, but before I had kids, going to watch a parade just wouldn’t have really been on my radar.
It was pretty warm out, so we found a shady spot on Main Street for our camp chairs and the double jogger. Philip ducked into the grocery store to get a snack — muffins — and look for some coffee — none to be found. We settled in and waited for the parade.
Jack was a little antsy at the beginning, and got a swat from me for running into the street. Stinker! Once the parade started, though, he was totally in awe and was content to stand in front of me and wave at everyone and just watch.
Honestly, I got totally choked up when the veterans walked by, and just was really feeling emotional. I just love our little family. I loved being in a small-town for a Fourth of July celebration. I loved the look of wonder on Jack’s face as the Lennox Municipal Band went by. I loved how Genevieve was sitting on Philip’s lap, screeching and doing her “Ah ba ba ba!” thing she does. I love that the pre-teen girl next to us kept giving Jack some of the candy that people threw off floats — she saved the soft pieces for him, and in turn, we gave her all the bubble gum. It was one of those moments when you realize you are totally present in your life. That you are just basking in the joy, and knowing it, and treasuring every minute. It’s so easy to go through the motions every day, always thinking about what you need to do next. So it felt so, so good to just do “right now.”
I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and my husband grew up in the Twin Cities. We are not rural people. I don’t know my farm equipment. I don’t know the difference between a pasture and a field. Is there a difference? I can recognize a cow and a horse, but you know, that’s as good as it gets. I swear I only know my farm vehicles from a Priddy book that Jack has.
A few months ago, Philip came home from the bookstore with this book for Jack:
The book, by Loren Long, is about an old tractor that comforts a baby cow. But the farmer decides he needs a new tractor, so he throws old Otis out and the big rumbly new tractor takes over. Otis is sad. The baby cow is sad. Then the cow gets stuck and Otis rescues it. I mean, it’s cute. I guess. If you support a pervy old tractor preying on a baby cow. It’s a little May-December farm love, but whatever. Jack loves it. And I love the photos.
So, at the beginning of the parade, an old tractor went by (don’t ask me any more questions about it — that’s all I know, it was old).
And Jack got soooo quiet. His face was so still for a moment, and then he screeched and yelled, “That’s OTIS! Otis is in the parade! That’s OTIS!”
And friends, I had to choke back the tears. Imagine believing one of your favorite storybook characters was truly right there in front of you, marching in a parade just to see you. You could almost touch it!
My dad once cried when he saw a group of young girls in their Easter dresses. I so get it now. It’s the hope in the face of a child. That belief. The pure, pure joy of it.
I kept meaning to take my camera out and shoot photos of the parade, shoot photos of Jack enjoying it, all that. In the end, I just sat in the chair, with Jack standing between my knees, my face pressed against his, and took in the delights of the parade, step by marching step. The lawnmowers. The big pile of drain tile on a flatbed truck. The horses. More tractors. The Shriners in their little cars. Packets of jelly beans. My son’s hot little cheek pressed against mine, squealing and yelling about a Fourth of July parade, that I’m sure he thinks was staged just for him.
Here are a few photos Philip took with my phone.