in East Texas is usually
ushered in by a yearly "cold snap," meaning we have a few days in
late September or early October when the daytime temperature drops
below 90 and we don't have to handle our seatbelt buckles with fireplace
tongs. Shortly thereafter, though, the fall season is hauled before
the Senate Judiciary Committee and subjected to an F.B.I. investigation
that delays its swearing in for at least another month. As a result,
a "crisp fall day" often takes on a completely different meaning
in this part of the country, but at least it reminds us of bacon.
It's during this resurgence of summer that East Texans often attend
one of the many area fall festivals, perhaps in an attempt to lull
ourselves into the delusion that we shouldn't all still be up to
our necks in a swimming pool somewhere. I recently attended one
of these events in the nearby city of Hallsville,
Texas, to watch my eldest and most expensive daughter march
in the festival parade with her high school drill and dance team.
As with most activities that occur outdoors, I immediately felt
out of place-since I consider myself a consummate indoorsman. My
feelings of unease were heightened by the fact that this particular
festival had a decidedly country and western theme (and I'm about
as country and western as Donald Trump in a pair of woolly chaps).
Despite the heat and close proximity to crowds of people who regularly
butcher their own dinner, I was determined to see my girl do her
thing-and embarrass her in some way if possible.
Our first task was finding somewhere to park, and because the entire
community had come out for the parade, this basically meant driving
to the end of our street and walking the rest of the way. Since
my youngest daughter has an aversion to any physical activity that
involves more than operating a touch screen, she reacted to the
prospect of walking as if we were asking her to hike the entire
Appalachian Trail barefoot over a pathway of scattered Lego bricks
while carrying me piggyback.
We first strolled to the drop-off point to deposit our eldest daughter,
who was irked because she hadn't had time to apply her makeup concealer
that morning. (Surprisingly, her mood didn't improve when I offered
to loan her some of mine.)
Then, after trekking through a tick-laden pasture and at least 12
parking lots packed with massive pickup trucks full of hunting gear,
we finally found a spot to stand for the parade. I was so excited
about seeing my daughter march that I barely noticed the tributary
of sweat that was now streaming down my back and draining into my
Like most small town parades, this one featured numerous flatbed
trailers piled with unruly children throwing candy, sports cars
with lovely pageant contestants emerging from sunroofs and throwing
candy, first responders driving emergency vehicles and throwing
candy, and horses throwing . . .well, never mind. The candy really
made it special for the younger parade watchers, and I only knocked
over a few of them when I was going after the Snickers.
When the drill team finally made their way down the thoroughfare,
I grabbed my camera to try for the perfect shot of my daughter,
who was pretending to smile while I shouted her name in my best
annoying-dad bellow. Fortunately for her, she was on the opposite
side of the street, and my wife stopped me before I could dash out
for a close-up and probably be crushed under the unreasonably large
tires of a modified Super Duty F-350 Platinum. (I had to look that
Despite the heat and the fact that I had given up about four hours
of Saturday morning sleep-in time, we really enjoyed the fall festival.
Events like these truly bring communities together and harken back
to a simpler time-before Snapchat, green smoothies and "Dancing
with the Stars." It's also a great way to celebrate the beginning
of autumn. And, who knows? In a month, or so, the weather might
even stay cool enough to break out your woolly chaps.