Friday, December 03, 2010

December 3: "Do Not Put Your Tongue on That."

December 3 Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).  
From author Ali Edwards (This is the Reverb 10 project I'm doing for December, join the fun here.)

There were many moments this year that I felt alive, vividly connected to the people and environments surrounding me. High up on the bleachers, dancing and sweating, listening to Modest Mouse on a hot July night, standing barefoot on the cool ceramic tiles of our kitchen floor, while chopping tomatoes for a big ol' festive Italian dinner with some of my favorite people, or just watching The Soup and laughing with my husband while drinking a hot cup of coffee in our pajamas on a lazy Saturday morning. I feel alive and engaged at all kinds of different moments. But I picked tonight to write about. Because tonight was perfect.


The smell of bonfire wafts through the air as we make our way into the Overland Park Arboretum's Luminary Walk. It is chilly, but not a bitterly cold Midwestern evening, there is a bite in the air that is crisp and invigorating tonight. After paying the entry fee, this is a fundraiser for the Arboretum, we wander through the small maze of tents until we are let out at the beginning of the walk.


Friendly greeters explain the trail choices, the scenic route, which was probably around a mile and half of trail and the one we took, or the more direct route. Trails and trails that run throughout the Arboretum, lit only by candles and white twinkly lights.

I've never been to the Arboretum until tonight. And this is the perfect way to see it for the first time. Children running down the trails, giggling and hiding from their parents. Barrel bonfires scattered throughout the miles of trees, babbling creeks and holiday lights, where we stopped to warm our hands and let the smell of smoking wood permeate our clothes.
Barrel of Heat

My hair smells like roasting marshmallows and singalongs at Camp Towanyak.  Hot apple cider served by uniformed Boy Scouts.  Kids leading each other in carols around the bonfire. Fifteen little voices rising and falling over Jingle Bells and Joy to the World, ringing through the twisting trails. Bridges covered in winding string after string of light, making the water below them ripple in the burnished glow.

Bonfire and Carols

We walked and laughed and chatted with each other, and the other visitors. We eavesdropped on other people's conversations. The trails were busy, but not crowded. People politely stepped to the side to take pictures or handle kids, or just stop and take in the dim, sparkling woods.


Clouds floated overhead as we walked into the Kid's Zone, full of little mazes, climbing places and gingerbread houses. Little hats and mittened hands chasing each other through the lit trees and teddy bear displays.

Gingerbread Photo Op
As we walked past the gingerbread house, I heard a little boy ask his mother to take his picture with an enormous fake lollipop, as he leaned in toward the lollipop, Mom said "Do not put your tongue on that." I started laughing and she said "Can you believe I actually have to tell him that?" He quickly leaned back a bit, bottom lip sticking out in disappointment. Then he ran on to a wooden elf and asked to have his picture taken again.

Luminous Creek

I want to make this an annual event for our family. The friendly, festive atmosphere was warm and relaxed. Dark, peaceful woods, with little beacons of gleaming light scattered throughout made me feel calm and alive at the same time. My cheeks pink from the cold and slightly sore from the permanent smile on my face. It was the kind of evening that I'll remember for a long time. The simple combination of beautiful outdoor surroundings, decorated so carefully by hundreds of volunteers, carefully lining miles of walks with tiny candles, and some of my favorite people. It was gorgeous. Come join us next year.


Me and the photographer

Photos by the delightfully charming, and faux humble, Joe Sands.


bethany actually said...

I wish we could come with you every year! That sounds lik an awesome evening.

Also, I'd say Joe's humbleness is only about 50% faux. ;-)

kassie lou said...

You are welcome anytime! And Joe is pretty humble, but he was talking about his lack of photo skill tonight and that is just silly.

Nae said...

I love soaking in all the details, in particular the way your hair smelled. What a beautiful night! I've never been there at night, what a delightful new holiday tradition you are creating.

it's all relative said...

That looks like a great way to spend a winter evening! Love the pics, they bring it all to life.

bethany actually said...

Oh. If he was being humble about his photo skillz, then yes, I agree. Totally silly.

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