Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When the Rain is Just Right

There is an old British saying, first uttered in 1894; "Right as rain". No one is exactly sure why, but the expression has come to mean everything is fine or in its proper order. It was very apt yesterday.

When I awoke Sunday morning it was anything but a sun day. There was a steady, cold rain falling, the only thing above a passing drizzle this month and the only wetness on the weather map this whole week.

It has been dry and we need the rain, but for me it seemed just one more thing gone wrong this year. Today was the last day of the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival and we had planned to go.

The we being the Little Woman and our two daughters. The Boy wasn't coming since he had an all-nighter ahead counting wine bottles at a sister store in another state. (He is often farmed out for inventories within the chain for which he works.)

The website said it was held rain or shine. We decided to chance it, just as I chanced it my Eldest Daughter could guide us there through the woods over winding back roads. She was the only veteran of this affair among us and said she knew the way and indeed she did.

You don't want to look for parking downtown even on a nothing special day. There are a number of charming little towns here in the Southeast end of Chester County where it is not so charming looking for a parking spot.

For a big ol' event like the Mushroom Festival you wouldn't have a chance.

We came into this town to the restaurant pictured left one night a couple years ago. A great place to eat, very unusual, called the Half Moon. We liked it a lot, but for a bit feared we would not make our reservation as we drove down one-way alleyways and parked-solid side streets looking to deposit our car somewhere.

More about the Half Moon later.

The town knows this and they provided. There were designated parking areas on the fringes of the festival and then shuttle buses to the action.

There was soon no doubt the festival was on as we arrived at our parking destination, the high school. There was a contingent of young people to collect our $5.00 fee to go up the drive to the lot.

I think a fair price considering they had to pay for buses all day long. (Maybe they didn't pay the driver taking us in enough, she was a bit uncommunicative, kind of snarly actually.)

But maybe weaving a school bus through narrow streets parked solid on both sides tends to sap your sparkly disposition.

I was glad I didn't have to maneuver my car along this route, so unfriendly or not, I am grateful for her chauffeuring.

As the Little Woman and my daughters amble up the rows of booths, I am reminded again it was right as rain.

It had continued raining during our drive to the high school, but the drops had stopped dropping upon our arrival. The sky remained darkly gray and the street was glistening under foot, but this proved beneficial. The temperature remained constant all day, just at the perfect spot for walking about in light jackets or sweatshirts without feeling too chill or too warm. It also kept the crowd down, at least in the early hours.

Oh, there's that TV news van!

But do you notice something a bit off?

Yeah, that's right, it's a balloon.

Frankly, it is the perfect symbolism of the TV news media these days.

Nothing but a big bag of hot air.

Anyway, moving on...

"Down at the end of Lonely Street..."

Not really. First of all, despite the dampness there was a crowd so it wasn't lonely and the avenue is State Street, not Lonely Street.

There are some interesting buildings along the way, however.

These sat down on the East end.

Right now they are just houses, but as the day wore on the occupants of them came out on to the porches to watch the parade of people invading their turf.

The people living in these homes are most likely workers in the many mushroom farms that dot this area. After all, this is the Mushroom Capital of the World, producing over a million pounds annually.

My mother was once a worker in a mushroom plant.

I like mushroom soup.

That's why this picture is here.

I passed this tent several times and each time I looked at and saw soup. I kept thinking, I should stop and get a cup of mushroom soup, I bet it will be delicious.

Yeah, as delicious as the treat my mom gave me once when I was a child and uttered a forbidden word.

Look at that sign closely. It doesn't say soup, it says soap. The Wildwood Soapworks,  handcrafted all natural bath & body products.

Maybe I better stick with the architecture. My Number Two Daughter liked this building, that's her and her older sister admiring it. (My younger daughter is the taller of the two.)

This may raise the question of what my Number One Daughter has upon her head.

There are many, many things to buy at the festival, especially crafts and objects of art.

My Eldest Daughter chose to purchase a knit monster hat.

Hey, she likes it. It's kinda cute. It'll keep your ears warm.

Besides if you really want to see What Not to Wear...

I told the Little Woman, "I want an outfit like that."

You are probably saying, "What was he thinking?"

(I was thinking, "I hope he doesn't turn around and punch me in the nose for taking his photo.")

I'm also thinking he knew exactly he was dressing to be noticed. You don't have those tattoos up and down your arms and legs if you don't want to be noticed.

He got noticed. The two girls behind him are giggling. The guy standing in the booth is going, "Wilco tango foxtrot was that?"

So you might ask, "What can one do at a mushroom festival?"

One thing you can do is eat. You gotta little something for everybody here. You got your ribeye steak, you got your Gyros, you got your corn dog, you got your Polish sausage, you even got your falafels.

A number of years ago my Number Two Daughter answered the phone with, "Muhammad's Falafel House."
The caller was a telemarketer. He wanted her to buy something. "No, no," she says in her best middle eastern accent, "you don't understand. Me sell, you buy. What kind falafel you buy?"

And this brings us back to the Half Moon. The Half Moon has a very interesting menu.

Now the Half Moon had a booth along the street selling goodies, too.

You weren't going to find cheese fries and funnel cake at this stand, however.

The Half Moon, where you can see some people entering in the background, has no truck with these typical American staples.

They go for a more exotic blend.

It case you can't quite read the sampling on the booth's menu, I will read it for you:

Crab Stuffed Portabella Melt

Wild Boar Exotic Mushroom Chili

Smoky Mushroom Bisque

Bison Hot Bog (extra with the Wild Boar Mushroom Chili)

If you are saying a bit heavy on the mushrooms, well duh! It is the Mushroom Festival.

Not everything in the restaurant has mushrooms with it. When we ate there that time, my wife had an Ostrich Filet, no mushrooms. You can have some good Buffalo Sliders or Gator Gumbo, too. They have roof top dining, by the way.

There are things besides eating.  There is a carnival with rides back near where we parked the car and there is free entertainment along the route all day long.

Speaking of down at the end of Lonely Street, there is a singer performing down on that stage. I wandered down and thought he was quite good actually, but there were only a half-dozen in the audience. (A damp, soggy day does not encourage sitting on folding chairs for an outdoor concert.)

My daughters and I came by a bit later and there was nobody in the seats. There was a woman at the top of the street with a camera to her eye.

Now my Eldest daughter is a soft talker.

I mentioned how few had been in the seats when I stopped by to listen.

She said, quietly, "I don't see anyone in the seats now. There is a woman video taping it. She must be his mother."

"That's true," said the woman video taping.

We moved along.

The Little Woman has a bad knee. She thinks she injured it out hiking with Daughter Number Two. Daughter Number Two is an ex-sergeant who served a couple deployments in the War on Terror, including Iraq and she goes on hikes at double-time. The Little Woman is reaching a point in age where the hills aren't kind.

At one point we had to leave her behind on a bench, poor pathetic looking thing.

Actually, she enjoyed sitting there while we rambled. She likes to watch people with all their differences and foibles.

Where she chose to sit turned out to be a restaurant I have long wondered where it was. It is called the Kennett Inn and I have seen it on Open Table many times and looked at its website. I had no idea just where in Kennett Square it was located, but given the parking here, had hoped it was on the fringes with its own spacious parking lot.

Not the case, for here it sits center town on State Street.

The staff was taking a break and were very friendly to my wife squatting on their doorstep. We really must try this place.

Up this side street was Wild Bill's Saloon.

My father was know as Wild Bill and he probably visited a number of saloons in his youth, but this had nothing to do with my dad, or real saloons for that matter, but I thought I'd throw it in. After all, I mentioned my mother earlier, so let's give my father some billing too.

My Eldest Daughter said it sold root beer and you got a silver cup to keep.

I asked if the root beer was any good.

She said her boyfriend had it and said it was. With that boyfriend we had a regular United Nations going. My daughter is 1/8 Welsh, Irish, German and Native American. Her boyfriend was African and Japanese (no, he wasn't Tiger Woods, my daughter wasn't one of the notches on that creep's putter).

Okay, so we strolled down this side street to Wild Bill's Old Fashioned Soda Pop Saloon.

I asked my daughter's if they wanted a drink. The Younger didn't, the Eldest did, so I ordered two.

Okay, friends, Wild bill doesn't GIVE you the silver cup with your root beer.

Those sodas cost $10 each.

He tried to talk me into two $15 cups.

No, thanks, $20 bucks for two is enough.

And the cup isn't silver, it's stainless steel.

It is a nice looking cup though. The root beer really was very good. You were handed the cup with ice in it and poured your own drink selection from a tap on a barrel. Old fashioned soda at a new fashioned price.

The crowd was getting more crowder as the day wore on. (The Little Woman was back on her feet, you can see her on the very extreme left examining something in a booth.)

I was wondering what to do with my ten dollar cup, now devoid of root beer. I hate walking around carrying something. I decided to put it on my belt. I unbuckled with the same trepidation as when the security told me to remove my belt at the courthouse last week. I hoped my pants didn't fall down. That would have been very embarrassing right there in front of my daughters.

I succeeded. My pants stayed put and the cup was secured to my side. It stuck out though. I feared some kid would run by, bang her head upon it and be knocked unconscious.

"Perhaps people will drop money in it," I said. "Alms, alms for the hip."

Alas, I collected nothing but a penny my wise-guy Younger Daughter dropped in it.

I did keep banging it on railings.

The Little Woman said, "I can't take you anywhere."

We had been there a while. It was time to catch the shuttle bus back to the car. This driver was a happy type, she did friendly patter all the way back, not like the morning sulker. When I sat on the bus, my legs shot lightening up my body, a reminder of my age, but still, I came to the Mushroom Festival and I was a fungi (fun guy).

On my wristband in says, "Celebrating 25 years '10".

You know a sign you have gotten old?

When you look at something saying they are in their 25th year and you think, "Oh, is that all they've been around?"

So the day had ended and instead of it being rain on our parade, it was all as right as rain and we had a great time among a lot of great people.

I came home with my souvenir cup, my wristband, and this funny little ink tattoo Wild Bill scribbled on my hand.

I'm still not clear on why.

1 comment:

Ron Tipton said...

Nice tour Larry. I felt like I was there. The rain didn't stop you. By the way, a guest just farted in the lobby. I kid you not. They're laughing about it now. I'll get the air spray out. I don't want to be suffocated. Can you belive this?