The fall season begins on September 23rd this year – technically, that is. I depend more on what Mother Nature has to say about it. She seems to know more than the meteorologists, though, granted, she does have more experience. So, when I see leaves and seeds twirling from the Ash trees and the leaves of two particular Maple trees in the neighborhood begin to change color, as far as I’m concerned, fall has arrived – no doubt about it.
Perhaps it’s not time for the The Autumnal Equinox as the Old Farmer’s Almanac explains, “‘The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night.” The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the hours of day and night are equal as the Sun crosses the celestial equator.'”
I’d rather take my cue from the trees. They tell me it’s time to get everything possible done that needs to be done outdoors or put it off until next spring. I’ve missed quite a few fall activities in the past while my nose was stuck to the grindstone, so considering I had most of my week’s work caught up, I decided to close the office door behind me for the weekend and do like the trees. They don’t care what the calendar says – they just do whatever feels right to them.
I didn’t really feel like doing any particular thing, and it’s a little too early for taking pics of full fall colors, but I definitely felt the need to get away from anything embroidery-related. (Don’t get me wrong. I love my work, but some days I simply need a “thread break”.) My husband, Kevin, was working, so it would have to be a solo event – no problem, there are many things to cross off the list before it snows I can do alone. Considering I haven’t had my old – ahem, vintage – ’87 Grand Am out of the garage for some time, perhaps a visit to the car wash was in order. I really should remove the dusty cat paw tracks left on the windshield – an embarrassing validation of being the neighborhood’s “eccentric cat lady who lives next to the woods”.
First, I checked email (something that must be done daily for design deliveries or custom quotes) and caught a local online news brief – “Jesse James Days in Northfield, MN”. Ah yes, the annual event that pretty much closes down the historic part of Northfield for a few days of celebration, complete with a craft fair and carnival. On September 7, 1876 the James-Younger Gang were defeated when trying to rob the bank – an accomplishment that would put Northfield on the historical-outlaw-legend map.
Now, I’ve lived 14 miles from there for over 40 years and had yet to attend the fun. Oh, I’ve seen it from the highway when I’ve passed by on my way to the neighboring Walmart – with clenched teeth and a dash of bah-humbug, because I can’t easily get to my favorite shops in historic Northfield. No, I didn’t want to go there today and besides, it just didn’t seem like the thing to do without Kevin – it’s a family sort of thing, right?
I kept pondering that question while watering the now-lanky petunias draped over the sides of their pots – another sign of summer’s end. I heard the reply whispered in my head, “Chicken!” – a snarky accusation of being too afraid to drive through the traffic and push through a maddening crowd alone. “Am not!” I murmmered like a whiney, little girl. Understand, people scatter out of the way of Kevin’s truck, where they tend to just walk over the hood of my pee-wee car. And without 6′ 2″ Kevin to scout the way through the people, I might not find the best place to view the reenactment of the bank raid – my main objective. Why go, if I don’t see the show? Just then the Chicadees began squawking, tired of waiting for me to leave the deck so they could get at the bird feeders, and I swear, their crabby “chic-chic-chic” started to sound like “chic-ken-chic-ken chic-ken”. So, who can argue with a little bird?
I parked in a lot at the edge of the historic area, assuming I had plenty of time to walk to where the reenactment would take place. It was then I discovered that my car clock was beginning to lose time (or else Kevin had tried to change the radio station again). I grabbed my purse and camera, then looked up to see a scene straight out of the movies – the “James-Younger Gang” approaching along the river, obviously on their way to rob the bank. I knew I had to move fast. I took a hit off my inhaler to fend off an allergy-triggered asthma attack and made sure my shoe strings were tied and tucked into the bottom cross-lace; lest I cluts out.
The side of the street with the “best view” was packed with people, so I, along with other last-minute-arrivals, opted for the spot near the “wings” of the reeinactment. Not a bad place, really, considering we were actually standing in front of the original bank building, now the Bank Museum. I couldn’t see the action on the other end of the street (that I’ve seen in videos anyhow) but I indeed saw a lot of action, as well as details, including the packing tape that held together the barrel of one of the rifles. (Really, boys, get yourselves some new guns!”)
I began taking pictures, fighting the sun behind me that was casting a nasty shadow in the street. Only a few manual shots of the people in period dress survived, because the auto-focus kept choosing the building on the other side of the street. Silently cursing my lack of digital camera skills, and having an underlying hatrid of auto-anything (evolving from the control it robs when digitizing), I kept battling the stubborn auto-focus when I noticed the T-shirt hanging above the crowd in front of the shop across the street.
And then, there it was … the word I read a zillion times a day, painted on the window, “Embroidery”. Well, look at that! Champion Sports does screenprint and stitches! I did not know that. I made a mental note to stop in the next day I cruised through town, deciding (after a quick look around for any sarcastic birds) I’m not about to struggle through the crowd of the elderly with canes, the parents with strollers and children with ice cream cones!
After the 20-minute reenactment of the actual 7-minute bank raid, I patted myself on the back for proving the Chickadees wrong. I am not “chicken!” But I am getting … well … let’s call it “vintage“. My adrenaline had gotten me this far, and with the realization that the car lot was quite a hike away, I was overwhelmed with appreciation for the many times Kevin has fetched the car and saved me the steps. He deserved a gift. So I stopped at one of the vendors’ booths near the Bank Museum where a printed cup caught my eye – the quote of town merchant, J. S. Allen, who on that infamous day had demanded, “Get your guns boys. They’re robbing the bank!” [I would credit the vendor, but in my haste, I failed to see the name and later found only a price sticker at the bottom. Note to decorators: your name is your most valuable marketing tool – get it out there on your stuff!]
I walked along the river where the vendor tents lined up from one end of the historic area to the other. I didn’t have the urge to buy anything, but couldn’t resist checking out the beautiful handmade crafts, paintings, jewelry, pottery and much more made by some very talented folks. After crossing the walk bridge, I was drawn to the silhouette of a man in an alley leaning against the wall of his shop, and next to him, what appeared to be a rack of T-shirts. I felt a bit sad for the fact there wasn’t a customer in sight and felt an odd sense of duty to patronize the poor fellow – until I got in front of the opened door and saw customers packed inside where it appeared Larson’s Printing was doing a mighty fine business!
Pleased to see Gildan on the label, I picked out my size and color of a T-shirt printed with a familiar Northfield Bank Raid design – one I’ve seen worn for years – so I just had to ask how long the shop had been in business. After a brief conversation we determined I had once digitized designs for his work contracted through my then-employer, Write On Embroidery back in the 80s and early 90s, until he added embroidery machines to his screenprinting business. We exchanged business cards (making this spontaneous day a tax deduction) and promised to keep in touch. Sometimes little thread breaks can lead to unexpected opportunities.
Pictures can be viewed in my Facebook public album: Jesse James Days ~ 9/10/11