One of Team Observer's Halloween rituals of recent years has been to make a run out to Schaefers and Collins' pumpkin patch in Mayflower. It is the most perfect place in the world for this time of year, a postcard-worthy farm situated on a broad expanse of Arkansas River bottomland. Along with the big corn maze and the homemade corn dogs and lemonade and petting zoo, one of the things we go for every year is the hayride. There are two versions, regular and hi-test: one a serene trip via tractor-towed trailer through the nighttime fields, with a bogeyman popping out every once in a while, the other a full-on haunted hayride experience, with lots of big-time scares. We've long since grown too old to find the idea of paying for being scared out of our gourd appealing, so The Observer and family are always content to take the more sedate experience.
It was hard to imagine a better night for it: moonlit, cool and lovely. As the lights of the farm fell away into the darkness, The Observer and family and 15 or so strangers found ourselves atop hay bales, gliding along under a moon that looked as big as a hula hoop — so bright and silver-white that it seemed we could reach out and touch it. The moon was wreathed in a pale halo that spoke of the rain and wind that would come in the next few days and settle the summer dust, hopefully for good. The wagon swayed. Up front, the tractor put-put-putted us across the wide land that stretched out to the edge of where the moonlight could describe it.
The moon was too bright for the bogeymen whose job it was to scare us. The young boys on board the wagon kept out a weather eye whenever we came to a patch of trees that might hide a monster, and when they'd see the frighteners there in the moonlight they'd shout out: "There he is!" long before the made-up horrors ever got a chance to do their work, leaving the thrills to come from the thought of the pregnant half-darkness, so full of ghosts. We hugged up against spouse, and she hugged up against Junior, and we rolled on through the dark, The Observer dreading the moment when the perfect ride would end.
Meanwhile, back in the city: Driving along through Capitol View on her way home from work Monday, Spouse reported seeing a black brassiere hanging in a tree near the intersection of Maple and Plateau Streets. Looks like The Observer wasn't the only one the full moon was working its magic on this weekend.
In years past, The Observer has heartily participated in Little Rock's dirtiest event, the Mud Run. But this year it came at the end of a long week and we decided to let the whipper-snappers give it a go as we watched from the banks of the mud pit.
For the uninitiated, the Mud Run is a 5K race, but it's not your typical three-miler. For one, participants usually dress up. You're more likely to see a woman jogging in a wedding dress than running shorts. But the real draw? The trail winds through Two Rivers Park and culminates in a 100-yard-long mud pit. A hose sprays runners as they slog through thick, cold mud to reach the finish line. Awards are given for dirtiest, best-dressed and others. Every year, the costume ante is upped. There was Mario, Luigi and Wario; Pacman and Blinky; the Blues Brothers; a whole host of zombies; a father-daughter team dressed up as a Double Rainbow (Double rainbow! Wow!); Superman, Batman and Robin; Popeye and Olive Oyl; the list goes on and on.
This year's Mud Marshal award went to a three-person team made up (in costume) of a pregnant woman, a doctor equipped with a baseball glove and a baby. As the three entered the mud pit, the pregnant woman draped a towel across her waist. The doctor readied herself, smacking the inside of the baseball glove with her fist, waiting. Finally, the baby emerged, rolling out from under the towel, through the mud and into this brave new, dirty world.
We've heard of waterbirths, but this reached a whole new level. It just makes us wonder what's going to have to happen next year to top it.