Yesterday, we joined our daughter's family for a visit to one of our favorite summer places - Storyland. It's so much fun to see the wonder and excitement in the grandkids' faces. (To our disappointment, he dancing scarecrow wasn't there this year, but we had filled our day with lots of other fun.) Here's a story I wrote for Faithwriters (topic - travelogue) -
A Dancing Scarecrow for a Day
Once upon a summer morning, I wound my way between the rugged White Mountains of New Hampshire. Their towering peaks had a rejuvenating effect on me. As I followed the rushing Ellis River, each turn in the road left more of the world of business, politics, and adult problems farther and farther behind. I was taking my grandson, Buddy, to Storyland, a place where imagination comes alive.
Even as we approached the crooked house entrance, laughing flowers and music-box tunes teased us over the top of the long blue fence. Buddy galloped in anticipation, and my old bones felt a strange urge to skip with him. The first time I entered this magical world was decades ago, but it felt like yesterday.
Within the gate, I see Humpty Dumpty still sitting precariously upon his brick wall. The train whistle blew as it pulled into the station. We chugged past Cinderella’s castle and three bears fishing in a pond. I remembered the animated gorilla and elephants in the jungle and the antique cars, but there were many more interesting additions. Buddy waved at a friendly worker with a broom over his shoulder. Everything sparkled with glossy, vibrant colors, and everyone seemed happy.
Ignoring the map, we set out on our adventure. Buddy got a sticker from the Lady Who Lived in a Shoe and rang the bell in the Little Red Schoolhouse. We visited the Three Bears’ house, but of course, they weren’t home. I told him the story of the Billy Goats Gruff as we watched the antics of some prancing kids. Buddy, with his mini-attention span tugged on my hand to keep moving.
Royal puppet trumpeters greeted us as we entered a castle gate. A pumpkin, driven by mechanical horses, pulled up, but we opted to ride the German carousel instead. Next we joined a pirate crew and rowed past Black Beard’s treasure. A giant swan boat glided nearby, and a dozen electric goslings zig-zagged in a quiet cove.
By then, my stomach began growling, maybe from the spicy aroma of tacos and chili coming from the Mexican village. After a quick lunch, we dared to explore Los Bravos Mining Co. and tried our luck at panning for gold. Over the hill, we found a whimsical restroom, and Buddy quenched his thirst from a lion’s mouth.
Wherever we turned, we found rides from around the world: a Swiss cuckoo clock, Egyptian boats with water guns, an African safari ride, and even an icy Polar Coaster. I preferred a quieter ride in a Ferris wheel that looked like hot-air balloons. It felt like we had been Around the World in 80 Days.
The path led up the hill to an underwater land, complete with a submarine and spurting coral reef. We never got too hot, for it seemed there was plenty of spraying water to refresh us throughout the park. Flying fish, leaping orcas, and twirling turtles sent my head to spinning. I continued up the hill as Buddy pranced beside me.
Huge dinosaurs lounged beneath a roaring wooden roller coaster. Buddy thought it too scary, and I agreed. We found a nice farm with smiling tractors chugging through patches of tomatoes and corn. Buddy was thrilled to drive it himself. Nearby, we entered a darkened room to watch the Farm Follies show of singing vegetable puppets and a dancing scarecrow. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one needing a nap. A few sleeping toddlers were carried back into the sunshine.
A double-scoop ice cream and a rest near the duck pond perked up my wobbly legs. The afternoon was ticking past, and we weren’t done yet. Buddy milked a cow near the Dutch windmill, and we floated in a Chinese bamboo chute that ended with a big splash. Since we were already wet, we bobbed and bumped on a raft ride where unpredictable geysers sprayed us at each turn.
At last, the day ended with a gentle drive in one of the antique cars. I let Buddy chauffer me through the covered bridge and past a charging moose. We waved “goodbye” to the train engineer and headed home. With his souvenir plush dinosaur snuggled close, Buddy was asleep within minutes. As we emerged from the woodland mountain pass, the bouncy melodies still echoed in my head. Being a dancing scarecrow might be delightful for a while, but I am satisfied with my mature life – until the enchanting world of Storyland calls to me again.