I watch the ink-black stream arc towards the oil pan. It misses and splashes down onto the garage floor spreading out like a stain of incompetence.
I scramble to move the oil pan over, which is difficult as I am laying on my back under the truck. I can’t turn over, and the only movable part of my body is my right arm. I sweep it between the bottom of the truck and the concrete floor pushing the plastic pan into position with a panicked expletive.
“Are you ok Daddy?”
I look across the floor to a pair of blue and green rubber rain boots.
The three year old. I forgot he was there.
“Yup! Just fixing the truck buddy!”
His cute face hangs upside down as he looks at me.
“Can I help?”
“Umm sure! In a minute we have to clean the garage floor. It’ll be fun!”
The feeling of guilt at duping my son is short lived. After burning myself with hot oil while changing the oil filter, and a sweat inducing feat of balance during funnel-meets-five-quart-container-of-motor-oil, I roll the truck back and set to work cleaning my mess.
Ben is a great worker and it makes him happy. I can’t blame him. There is something to be said for a fall day with grease on your hands and some bonding time in the garage. In fact, he’s done such an adequate job, I don’t even feel the need to tell my wife about our (ok my) mistake.
So, still feeling productive and proud of ourselves, we head to the nearby Harvest Moon Festival in Hebron. My two sons and I zig-zag through a sidewalk filled with little Obi-Wans, astronauts and Paw Patrol characters. A food truck depicts a bull holding a pig in one hand and a chicken in the other, his eyebrows furrow and steam jets from his nostrils. My son laughs, but I am left to wonder, Why is that bull so mad at the other animals? Aren’t they all going to be eaten? Local vendors sell soaps and hand woven garments. A tower of jack-o-lanterns stand as a beacon, and a one-amp guitarist strums folk versions of hard rock.
The streets are lined with painted chairs from local artists.
The atmosphere is strange and magical, exactly the way it should be a week before Halloween.
The boys float along on a sugar high and we visit my wife and her mom selling their Norwex cleaning wares to passersby.
We drive home talking about werewolves and vampires.
“Dad are you scared of werewolves?”
“No. I’m terrified of them.”
“Me too!” he yells in relief.
“Me too,” says the baby as his head lolls to the side of the car seat and he drifts off to sleep.
The next day we stroll through one of those deliciously horrifying seasonal Halloween stores that occupy the vacated bodies of recently failed businesses. Spooky visages stare down at you from lofty perches, and dismembered appendages hold buckets of candy. It is the first time my son wants to be something scary and a part of me feels an intense sadness.
I flashback to a picture of us when he was four; him in a batman costume and me in a Robin costume. We stand, hand on hips, in the kitchen, ready to fight crime together. At the houses, he would get his candy, turn on the steps and jump off with a, “Hup!”, his cape rippling in the wind. He would land in a squat, one hand back, one hand on the ground. It was the classic superhero pose repeated at dozens of houses. At home, giving out candy, he would yell to retreating trick-or-treaters, “Good-bye! Happy Halloween! Thanks for coming to the BatCave!”
We get home and Mike puts on the white mask and looks at himself in the mirror. “Don’t worry Dad, I already have the black clothes and a plastic knife, this is all I need.”
I frown then smile and tousle his hair under his mask as I walk over to the sliding glass door. It looks out over our backyard. My wife’s garden is starting to lose blossoms in the cold weather. The leaves are changing and falling, and the afternoon sunshine ebbs away in that beautiful melancholy gold of late October in New England.
To my right is the kitchen where we took that picture five years ago.
When the bite of a cold, crisp, blue sky stings your cheeks and brings a tear to your eye, you know it is autumn in Connecticut.
Owner Spowerks LLC