My town is in celebration mode this weekend.
The Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival is in full swing. It’s an annual rite of fall around here and people from all over the region are set to line the streets of our downtown for today’s Festival Parade.
The parade is a showcase for the Festival Queen and her Court. And, like most parades big and small, it includes everything from colorful floats filled with excited kids to convertibles driven by politicians trolling for votes. Huge red fire engines, their lights swirling, will make their way along the parade route and so will high school marching bands (our son is marching today with one of them).
The harvest festival is a big deal. Apples are a major part of our region’s agricultural tradition. In fact, if you take a short drive into the countryside, it won’t be long before you find yourself in the middle of an orchard.
Reminders of the influence of apples are everywhere here. And, they’ve certainly influenced our daughter. They are her favorite fruit. And, while they say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, it’s clear which tree our daughter fell from – and it’s not mine.
Early on the signs pointed to her mother’s tree and not just because they are both girls. After all, for the first couple of years following her birth, our daughter clearly preferred her mom.
For instance, when she was just a few months old we found ourselves in a showdown. My wife had handed her to me, saying she felt guilty about not spending enough time with our older son and that she was going to go read him a bedtime story.
I took charge with some trepidation. It was our first time alone together and our daughter wasn’t having any of it.
My wife was gone for at least a half-an-hour. And, during all that time, our daughter threw a red-faced tantrum. Tears streamed down her cheeks as I balanced her on my knees with my arms stretched as far as they would go.
We faced each other like that the entire time my wife was gone – she screaming at the top of her lungs and me begging her to calm down.
She didn’t stop until her mom came back downstairs to collect her. And then, to confirm that she was momma’s girl, she peeked over my wife’s shoulder and gave me a quick, bratty grin.
She wasn’t yet talking but her meaning was clear. She was telling me she won.
Our daughter has warmed up to me since then. And, just the other day, she came home with two boxes of chocolates I had ordered from her as part of a school fundraiser.
“I know just where to hide them, Dad,” she told me knowing I didn’t want her mother to find out about my stash of sweets.
It was our secret. And, for a while at least, she let me think that she just might be a chip off the old block after all.
But then, after a few days, I made the mistake of asking if she had told anyone.
“Sure,” she said. “Mom knows.”
That apple may never stray too far from her mother’s tree, but I’m making progress.
At least, it’s no longer throwing a fit when it rolls toward mine.