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14 October 2013 @ 09:08 pm
Scarecrows and Leaves  
Last weekend was the Scarecrow Festival out in St. Charles, and after not having gone since before we moved to Japan, softlykarou and I decided to trek out to the suburbs and make a visit. I have to admit, it was pretty neat to see the way that our own subcultures have penetrated into the popular consciousness:





And this is just fantastic:



But overall I wasn't that impressed. They've had some really impressive scarecrows in past years, but other than the ones softlykarou took pictures of, most of the ones this year were pretty conventional. There were also three or four from Despicable Me, but that would probably have impressed me more if I had actually seen the movie. Even the mechanical scarecrows, typically the best of the bunch, were disappointing. Several of them didn't even work, or at least didn't do anything that I could see. The only one I remember that actually moved was the high school rowing team one that moved the oars back and forth. I'm not sure if the other mechanical scarecrows were broken or what, but... The whole thing just didn't seem as good as it had been when I went a few years ago. Back in my day! etc. etc.

Okay, my parents went on Sunday and agreed with this assessment, so it's not just me getting old.

But, counteracting that counteraction of increasing age, after looking at the scarecrows, softlykarou and I ducked into a nearby antique shop and poked around a bit. There was the standard collection of kitsch and crap--well, at least I think it's standard, since antique shopping isn't really a typical pastime of mine--but there were some pretty awesome gems, too. A Q-Bert arcade cabinet that might actually have been tempting except we have nowhere to put it. A bunch of WWII propaganda posters that sadly were not for sale, though with a note that they would be up for sale at a later date. I would have loved to get those if they were available. We did manage to find a pair of brass candlesticks to use for lighting Shabbat candles, and they look a lot better than the cheap glass dishes we were using before, and there were some dishes that would have been if we had any need for dishes, but we don't.

To backtrack a bit, on Friday we surprised my parents with our schedule and showed up that night. Without enough time to prepare dinner, they took us out to Open Range American Grill, which is all decorated a lot like the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park, though with lighter wood and the views (read:pictures) are of the Grand Tetons. I mention this because it spurred a discussion against about how I want to take softlykarou on a trip to all the places that I visited on the various trips that my family took to Oregon when I was a child (maybe the subject for another entry?). My parents actually mentioned that next year would be a good time to go, except that softlykarou and I were planning to take a trip to Germany and France to celebrate her graduating from grad school. It's theoretically possible that we could do both--my benefits are incredibly good--but that is a lot of summer vacationing, and maybe doing it in a following year is better. My sister is in California now, and she could meet us somewhere, or in Oregon when we arrive. It'd be great. Yeah, I think I will write that post.

On Saturday afternoon, we walked down to the Fox River and along the riverwalk looking at the leaves, and...well, it was incredibly disappointing. In Japan, softlykarou and I would go to Miyajima in the fall and look at the momiji trees as the leaves changed, and eat momiji manjū, and go view the leaves. Here's a momiji tree in the fall:



That kind of bright crimson obviously does occur in America, but it's usually only a few leaves from a few plants, not a large amount. There were some promising trees on the walk down to the river, but once we got down there, everything was still green. I guess the warm temperatures have meant that the leaves haven't turned yet. Maybe I should look on the lakefront trail in a week or so--it's supposed to get down to 10 C or so starting on Friday.
 
 
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