This morning we did not sleep in. We packed the kids into the car and gave them "snack breakfast" as we puttered through the early morning to pick up Uncle Trent and head off towards one of my all-time-favorite family traditions: Art in the Park.
I've thought about why AITP is just about my favorite time ever. (including most major holidays) I think it is a myriad of reasons that makes this first weekend in October so magical. It is a mini-vacation, a 30 minute drive to a tiny, insanely quaint and adorable little town, there are quilts spread on grassy knolls, dogs wearing tiny cowboy hats, quintessential childhood memory toys like wooden rubber band guns, strolling while checking out some amazing fine art all displayed among huge trees with gnarled roots rambling around the turf, it is just perfection! Shopping is always fun, but shopping at AITP is just a different experience. There are real artisans here, not just "distributors" for major companies. Every year I buy the kids a set of tie dyed outfits done by a family in California, their family business since the 1970's. (pictures to come) There is a quirky lady who crafts fully-articulated silver bears- I love her booth. I always buy the girls princess crowns with tule, sparkles, and glittery ribbons. Little Man got a foam sword- his new most-prized possession.
The food at AITP is also amazing. Roasted cinnamon almonds, handmade carmel corn, just to name a few. The smell is intoxicating as it blankets the air above all the booths full of new and interesting things to look at. The girls are older, and can walk mostly unassisted. They were so manageable this year! Every once and a while they would request we go closer to politely look at such marvels as the intricately woven twine dragons. Then they would follow us like my own baby ducklings, keeping pace and staying close so I didn't worry. Little Man was even on his best behavior, while still on a "leash," he was at the height of happiness with a sword in one hand and a bag of grapes in the other, pausing every few booths to open his mouth so I could pop a carmel corn for him to nosh on.
Perhaps the best thing about Art in the Park? It signals the coming of Real Fall. While it is already October, we are finally beginning to see highs in the 100's taper off. The mornings are semi-crisp at 71. In one week we may be able to wear something other than shorts. This is when the good stuff really begins.
Today we had a great time. So great in fact, I forgot to take a minute from all the lovely fun to snap a picture. As the crowds started to swarm in, (we get there about an hour before the official "opening" of the fair) we weave our way back to the car and head out to our new favorite food stop in this adorable little town. The burgers were juicy and the milkshakes were divine. Most of all the conversation was delightful. During the drive home I realized just how perfect the day was. From the rear view mirror I could see some tired, but gleeful faces as we neared home and nap time.
I will always love this weekend. The weekend of Art in the Park. I will come here every year as long as my legs will carry me. I will bring my family here; Just like my mother and grandmother did. It will continue to be the highlight of my year.