This evening our family headed to a local treasure, a miniature golf course which is so hidden that many people who have lived in our town for decades never have heard of it, much less patronized it.
Bordered on one edge by a small creek and dwarfed on the opposite side by the owners' 230-acre farm, this homemade course boasts one hole that drops your ball onto the green by means of looping it round and round an oversized, spray-painted auger bit wrapped in chicken wire. On another, balls ricochet off a tin square nailed into the base of a tree. When you reach the final hole -- which on this course is the 21st hole, rather than the standard 18th -- you aim toward a mounted five-foot plastic trout. Those skilled (or lucky) enough to launch their ball into the trout's gaping mouth earn a free game.
Before you leave, you can feed grass to the three alpacas in the front field, visit the two newest calves in the barn, or buy fresh eggs gathered from the hen house that morning.
Tonight, we were the only ones there. Given that it was still 89 degrees with, say, 80% humidity at 7:00 in the evening, this isn't surprising. Many people were holed up in their air-conditioned houses viewing their sixth consecutive hour of college football or fanning themselves on their back porches with beverages in hand.
Not us. We had entered the realm of extreme trust where you hand metal clubs to those very small and volatile people in your family, and then you encourage them to swing those clubs. It's an exercise in faith.
Being competitive in nature (there's no telling where she got this from, right?), Reese kept track of her own score. Brooke played the holes backward, hit her ball haphazardly, laid down on the greens, picked flowers, and examined the ants crawling on the tenth hole; in essence, she remained blissfully unaware that most people who go mini-golfing actually do just that -- i.e., golf.
Kerrington, so quick on her feet now, raced up and down the greens, wreaking the type of havoc synonymous with ever-mobile fifteen-month-olds. Eventually we hooked her up with two balls, one for each fist, in hopes that she'd be less interested in grabbing those balls in play if both her hands already were occupied. While sound in theory, this was only marginally successful in practice.
When we packed the kids back into the van, their faces were flushed, hair sweaty, and clothes grass-stained from when they rolled themselves down the hill across from the pumpkin patch.
Pretty much a perfect night, even if I didn't ever manage to get a hole in one.