We brought summer to a close on Labor Day weekend by attending a huge Celebration of Life party that a friend of ours threw to celebrate the end of his chemotherapy for stage 4 colon cancer. It was a grueling six-month ordeal, and he wanted to thank his very wide circle of supporters. The celebration was out on his parents' farm, tucked away in one of the pretty little valleys across the river about half an hour from here. The farm is actually the oldest in that valley, and is featured in First Farm in the Valley, the first of the popular series by Anne Pelowski. It was absolutely gorgeous: green sloping up and away all around us, with a small river (really more like a large creek) flowing through the valley. About 200 people attended this party, including a number of kids. Ben tried fishing in the pond, and all of the kids tried their hand at boating. Maria took out a small inflatable lifeboat and got stuck in the middle of the pond when she couldn't figure out how to row back. (She was completely calm about it.) Ben tried out the paddleboat, which Julia hopped a ride in as well. Being in control of their own watercraft was a new and exciting experience.
They had a number of kids games, too, including a three-legged race and a gunny sack race and a kiddie tractor pull. Ben won second place in the three-legged race, teamed up with a girl from Iowa. Pretty good, considering they were running against teens and adults, too. They received a trophy (an old golf trophy with a new plaque on it) and were told to draw straws for who got to keep it. Boy, they both really wanted that trophy. The girl's mother made her give it to Ben, who didn't object. But then I came in and suggested -- somewhat strongly -- that the grown-up thing to do would be to let the girl have it. It took him about twenty minutes, but he eventually gave it to her. But boy, did he struggle about that -- and later, he really regretted his decision, along the lines of, "I've never won anything before." That made me regret pushing the issue with him. But we printed out a picture of him with the trophy, and framed it, and now it occupies a proud place on his dresser.
Here are Ben and Julia in the tractor pull: