Plan B

Sunday was one of those days, those middle days of the long weekend when you realize you have no plan and that you desperately need one. When you wake up at 3 p.m. from your 20-minute nap (also desperately needed) because the baby has woken up from his, scoop him out of his crib and carry him to the basement, where your spouse is watching your nearly-four-year-old son bounce off the walls in his underpants, and start racking your brain for something to do in the four hours until bedtime.

What we came up with was the farm. One of the several hobby/working farms in the area that offers up fall pumpkin festivals — hay rides, petting zoos, haunted pumpkin patches, ponies, candy apples, hot dogs, and so forth. We piled into the car (after changing Isaac, sticking sweatpants on Rowan’s resistant little stick legs, throwing snacks and diapers and camera and hats into a bag and a stroller into the trunk) and headed out.

This particular farm is about a 25-minute drive from our house, past the airport, past the pulp and paper mill, into the last of the fall colours and the hopes of seeing wildlife. Isaac kicked his legs happily in his car seat while Rowan kept up a steady chatter about petting bunnies and hay mazes. Then the two of them started their yelling game, where they shrieked back and forth to each other, with increasing hilarity, until Rowan abruptly fell asleep. We kept Isaac content by putting in a CD at low volume and passing the occasional grape back toward him; he also found a stash of stale Goldfish crackers that no one ever bothered to clean out of his car seat, and munched on those for a while. And Rachel and I chatted all the rest of the way to the farm, through the gates, and up to the 15-year-old girls who told us they were closing in 45 minutes — although we were welcome to pay our $21 and go ahead. Perfect. We turned around, Rowan still sleeping, Isaac staring contentedly out his window, and chatted and enjoyed the fall colours all the way home. Rowan opened his eyes as we pulled into the driveway. “Where are we?” he asked. “Where’s the farm?”

It was, as the writer Anne Lamott writes, “like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony.” We needed to get out. And we didn’t need to be any place else but where we were.