I wrote this on a Labor Day weekend, a few years ago and today, on the eve of this weekend that signals the end of summer, I sit here and reflect on what those weekends meant to me.
Melancholy has a way of creeping into my brain on the eve of this weekend. On this night, chances are Joanie and I would have been on the road headed for Minneapolis and St. Paul with a stop in St. Cloud at Joe and Joni’s.
I read this again, and really couldn’t think of much I would change about it, so I post it again as a reflection on happier times.
Both Joanie and my youngest sister, Joni, are gone now, and I think that adds to the bittersweet remembrance that comes to me every year about this time.
It was our weekend for years.
On a Thursday or Friday, we’d point the car toward I-94, bring along some cassette tapes, pick up some coffee and not look back
It was Labor Day weekend and it was ours.
Joanie wanted to go to the Renaissance Fair. I’d never been to see it, so that was the plan. I thought it would be a one time deal when it started in the early 80’s, but it went on well into the 90’s.
The trip became something special to us. We both loved Minneapolis/St. Paul, and how the pace of the life slowed down there on a holiday weekend.
We’d stop on our way down at Mabel Murphy’s in Fergus Falls, and often follow that with stopping in St. Cloud at Joe and Joni’s place. Joni was my younger sister.
After a night there, it was on to the Cities, and for years after that first trip, we would leave Joni with this, “We’ll meet you by the bear at noon.” The bear was this huge carved statue, located in an open area, not far from the main entrance to the grounds, and we would be there on Sunday.
Our Saturday’s in the Cities were spent just roaming around with no agenda. We’d look for new restaurants or bars to drop into. We’d find places like St. Anthony’s on Main where there might be live music on a plaza, and we’d park there until searching out somewhere else. In the evening, we treat ourselves to a good dinner, or find a place like Guadalaharry’s to settle in for some margaritas, food and fun with the staff.
Our Saturday nights always ended with a Bailey’s at the hotel bar.
Sunday morning, it would be bagels and coffee, and the Tribune at Byerly’s in Edina, and then it would be time to head to Shakopee and the Renaissance Fair, and the first thing we did when we got there was to get some flowers for her hair.
We would meet my sister Joni by the bear, and at least one time she brought her daughter Audrey with her. She would get flowers for her hair as well, and then we’d be off to wander the expanse of the grounds.
We came to love those Sunday’s at the Renaissance, for they were a riot of color, sound, humor, characters, music, food and drink. We loved the characters like Rat Catcher, Grave Digger, Puke and Snot, The Pickle Man. We got to know places like Folkstone Well, Bad Manor. Tree Top Round, Upson Downs and all of the various stages around the grounds.
The food was good, as was the music, and Joanie would spend a lot of time wandering through the various shops. We also collected a very large collection of ceramic wine goblets over the years, and I still have them. Each one has the year we got them painted on them.
We stayed each Sunday we were there until they closed, and one of the highlights we looked forward to at the close of the day was the dance. There in a large open area, they would bring out some big kettle drums, and members of the cast and crew of the fair would begin pounding out a rhythm, and soon, in the late, warm afternoon light, an unseemly sight began to take place. Cast members, vendors, customers of the fair were gathered in a circle and soon people were dancing with an abandon that was infectious. I even managed to get Joanie to join in a couple of times. It was always a feel good way to end our day at the Renaissance.
So on the eve of this Labor Day weekend, I sit here sipping some wine from one of those many Renaissance goblets, and I think back on those weekends that were ours.
I think back on how much fun it was to go to the Fair, to get some flowers for their hair.