Saturday, May 14, 2005

Cheap Dates 

A fairly successful dry run for good parenting under unemployment today. Morning housecleaning and tantrums take their emotional toll, but they don't hit the pocketbook. Better, though, was an afternoon jam-packed with local freebies offered by pretty much every community, if you know where to look.

First, a very special storytelling event at the Northfield library, the usual stories, snack, and project heavily overshadowed by a parking lot full of municipal vehicles open to the kiddie public. Willow and I had a blast climbing in and around the fire truck, but the ambulance was by far her favorite.

Next stop, the Creamie, where we satisfied her sugarlust with a sampler cone piled high with sunny yellow sprinkles.

From there we headed out to Gill and the Songline Emu Farm, a local spot we've been intending to go for months. The woman running the place was nice enough to suggest a free self-guided quickie-tour rather than the official $3 thirty minute run, both to save her voice and to not overwhelm the little one with too much technical information. Got to see and stroke two day-old chicks the size of peewee footballs, run with the month-olds up and down the fence, and marvel at the throatcalling elders ready for harvest; collected plenty of double feathers; learned that emu eggs are forest green and hard and brittle as December ice.

The emu farm was right next to the town boat dock, so Willow and I wandered the rocky beachside, watched boat trailers pull in and out in the warm late-Spring sun, and ended up throwing rocks into the widest lakelike stretch of the Connecticut River while Darcie sat in the car with a sleeping Cassia.

Back home, the boys at the dorm next door played Dead tunes surprisingly well into the night as the light faded. Willow and I listened out her window until she felt sleepy and I felt nostalgic for summer festivaling. Getting her to sleep was a breeze.

Total cost, not counting gas: 50 cents for the sampler cone, another buck for Darcie's kiddie cone, and $2.60 for a shared chocolate malt. Not bad for a day with so many new experiences, I felt like a kid again myself.

Oh, yeah, and I guess someone bought the sausages we cooked up for breakfast. Pity the free lunch (and dinner) goes the moment we leave boarding school life behind.

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