That there's a pawpaw, the official native fruit of the state of Ohio! I had heard of them before, but only in song (pickin up pawpaws, put 'em in my pocket). They're peculiar - maybe something like a papaya crossed with a banana? I didn't think I particularly cared for them, but I just recently had a ripe one, fresh on the ground (they're not ripe until they're easily coaxed - or in the case of the mischievous twosome above, WACKED - out of the tree), and it was really quite lovely. Athens is home to the chief champion of the pawpaw, Chris Chmiel of Integration Acres, who sells his pawpaw popsicles and jam (and goat cheese, spicebush berries, and ramps pesto) at the Farmer's Market, and Chris has provided us with annual entertainment in the form of the PawPaw Festival every September.
That's where you would have found us yesterday. (Well, some of us. Others of us were playing Appalachian golf. I promise, there will be a post about that. Someday soon.)
There was plenty of pawpaw around - pawpaw cooking contests, informational workshops, trees for sale, tastings, and, most pleasantly, pawpaw beer.
I had anticipated the girls wanting to run with a gaggle of children, and was happy to find that at least for a while they were happy to wander with me. We visited the East of the River Shawnee tribe who had set up a flint-knapping demonstration and a teepee, as well as several booths of beautiful jewelry, clothing, and dreamcatchers.
The local college had brought snakes...we got to visit with a Burmese python and this cute little hognose.
There was constant activity in the kids' area - an obstacle course (think rope swings and balance beams), jumpy castles and slides (a huge favorite), instrument-making, drumming, painting, fencing, juggling...
The girls and a buddy came to hear the storytellers with me...
|Will is a friend of the girls' from market. He tells the same story every time, but we like it anyway...|
Enough sitting! Time to run! Eat pawpaw ice cream! Dance! Ride the train!
|These two were inseparable. Six-year old best buddies. Sigh.|
|Eliza on her fourth wagon ride|
|Lost in thought. A bit tired, maybe?|
Eliza's best friend showed up with Dan (after golf), and she trotted alongside the wagon as she arrived. Eliza had had a bit of a hard time during the long afternoon (we might have been there too long...), as we got separated and missed each other a couple of times. Following and looking and waiting are exhausting, aren't they? Live and learn. She was put back together by the time E. arrived and they were off and running...
The day ended with dinner, a pawpaw beer at last, and quickly-falling dark (have you noticed? We are so close to the equinox...). Dancing with Dan and a bunch of tiring girls...not a bad way to spend one of the last of summer's evenings.