Today was one of those days that reinforces and allows me to value all the days spent with my son. An unusually warm day for November begs for us to visit a local apple orchard before any thought of remaining outside for more than necessary becomes a notion of the insane. Driving up we were greeted by signs informing us that all the apples have been depleted, which pleased me. We’ve met the owners of this particular orchard and it’s comforting they had such a good season. Often things still had some movement closer to Thanksgiving. We parked as the solitary vehicle in the grassy lot, and walked to the grounds. Further signage informed us the store is now closed on Mondays. None of this mattered, of course, our purpose was to visit the animals that are available all year.
Usually when we spend time at this particular farm, it is packed with families seeking the overrated cider donuts that, I’m sorry, pale to any Dunkin’ Donuts variety…even jelly. Yet, because these are fancy shmancy donuts, they merit triple the price…all the better the store is closed…one less argument from the little man.
Today, however, it was only us, which surrounded me with an eerie sensation walking to the goats…my son’s favorite. I set him down, and he begins his eighteen-month-old toddler run that alludes to a catastrophic fall for anyone with fully developed bones. Alas, my son reaches the goat pen unscathed, trotting back and forth in search of one of their many housed in the enclosure. It took a moment before I realized they were all lounging up high at the top of the bridge structure, basking in the remaining comfortable days of the season. Fortunately, a couple spied my little man and meandered their way to the fence, probably hoping for food pellets. Delighted, Little man thrusts his hand at a short white tolerant goat, patting his nose. Mr. Man did not appreciate the goat returning the greeting with a tongue swipe on his delicate digits. My son retracted his hand, nursing it like a wounded soldier and looking at me with pleading eyes. Realizing I was unsympathetic to wet fingers, he moved on to the other goats congregating a little further along the perimeter. Some goats preferred to remain in the sun, but more began their migration in the direction of their only visitors. My son was thrilled.
Following the complete length of the fence, Little Man discovered the sheep, which did not hold the same interest for him. He did, however, want me to hold him, repeatedly requesting that I sing the partial lyrics to, “Baa, Baa Black Sheep.” This is what I can expect from spontaneity and seclusion…random nursery tunes that I don’t realize are incomplete in my memory until midway through. Fortunately my son doesn’t care; he just enjoys the effort.
It was in my arms that he noticed the chicken coop. The determined pointer made an appearance, so we moseyed our way to visit the two eye level enclosures holding a couple of roosters and a whole mess of hens who didn’t seem to approve of the masculine addition to the atmosphere. Mr. Man, however, was entranced and decided the rooster aggressively charging his coop-mates around in circles was his favorite…I figure he appreciates any living entity partial to chases…
The rooster had quite a bit to say, hovering in front of my son, likely throwing insults in chicken-tongue akin to what one would hear in individual cars marooned in traffic. My son was captivated with the clucks of the rooster, fervently signing, “more,” while whacking me in the face. At that point, the rooster turned an about face, displaying his hindquarters so there would be no mistake what he thought of my son’s joviality.
Finally, we visited the pigs who clearly appreciated the quiet. I had never seen them roaming about with the crowds present, choosing instead to sleep in their themed, Three Little Pigs houses. With only the two of us present, all three greeted us with excited snorts, but my son liked my snorts the best. I released him to the ground, and he subsequently jammed his finger through the fencing, picking the nose of one of the pigs who embraced such a gesture as one of intimate friendship…or the pig had something lodged up his snout and thought this was likely the soonest opportunity to experience relief…
We remained at the orchard in solitude for thirty minutes before my son exhibited his trademark, “farewell,” wave consuming five minutes of continuous spastic motion, only completely ceasing once we returned to the car. We headed to a nearby local café for lunch; one of the few commercial establishments in the town that is totally overpriced, but it is a local business owner who designed well appreciated effects to the physical plant for those of us accompanied by small humans. Mr. Man murdered a twelve ounce chocolate milk and stole some of the home fries off my plate. By the time we began our journey home, my son was covered with remnants of our adventure. I was left with quiet musings of each moment, hoping they will be immortalized for easy retrieval when my son no longer takes interest in the novelty of the world or my company.