Wells Branch, the neighborhood we live in, does a lot of community events. They have potlucks and concerts and fishing derbies. We haven’t done any of those. We talked about them, but just never really went. They do a couple of very nice things celebrating Christmas. Namely that they put Santa in the Wells Branch Homestead (circa 1885) and placed what must have been many hundreds of luminaries around the trails in Katherine Fleischer park. The events lasted two days and also included a community potluck and live Christmas music.
For Wesley and Jillian both this was their first trip to see Santa. Wesley and I have been talking about Santa on some recent runs. He has been getting really interested in stories and has been asking me to tell him has many as I can remember. During the runs I default to the easiest ones I can think of. This time of year they are a little Santa and Rudolph heavy. I wasn’t sure how he would do. He is a little timid around strangers and can really get upset at things you wouldn’t expect. Jillian of course would be a total crap shoot. She’d either be in a good mood or not and there wasn’t any predicting or changing it. After waiting a reasonable amount of time (I’m glad we got there early) we had our moment with the big man. I would say he was a very high quality santa. The small room with low ceilings and dominating fireplace was the perfect setting. If it weren’t 75 degrees outside and 90 inside the cabin it might have felt like the north pole. Wesley was timid, but smiled in the pictures and was patient enough. Jillian was just Jillian and so all went well. We took a bunch of photos with our camera, bought one Polaroid for $2 (surprisingly reasonable) and headed outside.
We walked down the trail again and headed to a block I run past all the time. Lately they have gone all out in terms of Christmas lights. Wesley was enthralled. He clearly believes that lights are meant to be observed up close and also that they look best when under a little tension as when tugged on by a small child. We had a few struggles but the promise of more lights up ahead always kept him moving.
The luminaries were really neat. A little slumped and crumpled from some overnight rain they still were rather magical. They were spaced every twenty to thirty feet down the trails and sidewalks throughout the park. It was much neater than I had imagined. I took the opportunity to take a few long exposure shots that I think really give a feel for the mood while we were there. We spent a little time at the playground near the pool. We took some more pictures and headed for home.
And then it happened. We saw the train. We had to ride that train. Okay it wasn’t a train in the real sense. It was pulled by a Kubota tractor, the cars all had rubber wheels and were made from used barrels. But to Wesley it was the greatest thing ever. We got up to the “station” about the time the train was loading. All the cars were full and the conductor actually said “all aboard” and blew a whistle. We waited as patiently as a two-year old can for a train and got our turn on the next go around. Wesley and I rode together both because I was afraid he might get scared and because I thought he might just jump out. We wound around the park and did some nifty S-curves. Then he did a couple of big loops where the engine (see now even I’m calling it an engine and not a tractor) almost touched the last car. The conductor waived and talked to the kids in the last car and then we headed back to the station. What fun. The train filled up and took off. Wesley wanted to go again and again and again and … well, you get the idea. He had a hard time leaving, but I think it was worth it. Today as we ran through the park he pointed out all the places the train had gone. Ah…the memories.