Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Cannon & Other Tales of the Fall

They had me at “pumpkin cannon.” As soon as I read the article, I knew I had to go. So, one fine crisp fall afternoon a few years ago I gave Mama Goof a break and took the kids up to Thurmont to fire a pumpkin cannon.

The farm had more than just artillery. There was a corn maze. There were snacks. GoofBoy was still at an age where spending money was a novelty in and of itself, so – just to be able to use some coin – he bought his little sister a lollypop.

To warm up for the main event, we practiced on the apple gun. Noise sensitive GoofGirl thought the pumpkin cannon was too loud, but she liked the apple gun, which had two barrels. She likes close-in fighting, and she really enjoyed the solid thunk of an apple against the side of the little pirate ship.

Then we got in line for the pumpkin cannon. Everyone in line razzed whoever was firing and GoofBoy and I joined in the fun. Some people didn’t even try to hit the pirate ship target; they just aimed the cannon high in the air to see how far they could launch a pumpkin. I wondered if it could hit aircraft (Camp David isn’t far away…)

When it was our turn, I had little doubt that I would prove – and my past experience gave me no reason doubt it – that I could not hit the broad side of a barn. I aimed half-heartedly, fired and turned away from the great blast. I prepared to face the line and accept my jeers. But instead, there was a collective “Oooh!”

I didn’t see it, but my pumpkin had hit the flag on the pirate ship. GoofBoy was impressed.

There’s more
The little Goofs said they wanted to climb the mountains. So, a few turns and surprise – we came to an entrance to Cunningham Falls State Park. We parked and a trail lay before us. There was a sign noting that we were in a hunting zone. But, miracle of miracles, there was an information number posted. A quick call and we learned there was no hunting on Sundays so off we went. We hiked up for a while, the leaves crunching beneath our feet. Then the little Goofs got bored. So we headed down. On the way down we encountered a stream. Have I mentioned before that for my kids streams are absolutely the most fun thing ever?

After a long time of searching for stream creatures and throwing rocks in the water we headed back to the parking lot. There was a structure by the parking lot. It was a set of cages for birds that had been injured and could no longer survive in the wild. There were owls, eagles, and hawks – huge and beautiful seen close up. After appreciating the birds for a bit and almost ready to head home a park ranger pulled up.

It was feeding time. The ranger tossed dead mice and rats into the birds’ cages and the birds gobbled them up. The little Goofs looked on fascinated.

We drove home. I was pretty proud of myself, having arranged a day of adventure that would live on in Goof family history. When I got home the kids looked at me and said, “Now what are we going to do?”

At dinner as we relayed our adventures to Mama Goof, I asked GoofGirl what her favorite part of the day was. She answered fast with a huge smile, “My brother bought me a lollypop!”

Months later, GoofGirl was discussing with me what she and her friends were going to do when they grew up. I hadn’t heard this discussed before (besides her saying she wanted to marry her brother – she was only four so this was sweet!) So I asked her about her plans.

“I want to take care of injured birds.”

“Really? Where did this come from?”

“Remember, at the park when we say the ranger feeding the birds?”

“Oh wow, you remember that day. I’m so glad.”

“Yeah, and I can feed them dead rats!”

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