An American Journal: Day 17 and 18 (Springfield)

Day 17

Thursday morning was slow and uneventful, we woke up late and went for an early afternoon run through Washington Park. We’ve been lucky with the weather in our time here in Springfield and today was no different as the sun was strong and the park was full of people enjoying some of the last days of good weather before Fall sets in proper and the weather turns for the worst.

The evening brought a potluck to Mari’s parents house with friends of Bill and Wendy getting a chance to see Mari while socialising in the midst of an impressive spread of food. Plates were piled high with freshly baked bread, black beans salad, roast chicken and root vegetables and chocolate brownies to finish the meal. It was a great chance to see Mari’s parents social circle and to overindulge in some good cooking.

Day 18

The next morning we went to a Mexican restaurant called Taqueria Moroleon for brunch. The restaurant still has a vintage sign from it’s former life as a morning donut shop sitting on the roof of the building. We filled up on heuvos rancheros and a plate of fried beans, rice, potato and chorizo and washed it down with bottomless coffee. Mari has begun to take great joy in some of my cultural unfamiliarity as I stumbled through Spanish pronunciations and the correct way to order eggs.

From the restaurant we went to check out the The Pharmacy, an art gallery and art space that Bill and Wendy contribute to and help maintain. The venue is used as predominantly as a gallery but is also used as a venue for live music and performance events. I got to see a collection of art from local artists including pieces from Bill and Wendy. Most pieces are available for purchase and showcase a range of art mediums.

Now anyone who’s spent any amount of time with a North American, knows there’s no holiday which gets them as worked up as Halloween. Mention the ‘H’ word and watch as their faces lights up and they begin to regale you with tales of whacky Halloween adventures in ironic costumes. As their eyes glaze over and they begin to tell you how wonderful a time of year ‘fall’ is, you smile and nod and add it to your growing list of cultural quirks.

Early evening we visited a ‘Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular’ at Washington Park. Families came out in their droves, and kids and adults alike were caught up in the spectacle of glowing jack-o-lanterns carved into bats, skeletons and the rest of the Halloween cast.

While pop music blasted from speakers, occasionally breaking into a Halloween tune or a scary chuckle, I began to realise I had been caught up in the festivities. I ogled at the more intricate carvings, smiled at the enthusiasm of the kids Halloween costumes and admired the effort that had gone into the Halloween aesthetics. If I had grown up with a Halloween like this, I can’t imagine not reminiscing passionately about bags full of candy and a chance to lose yourself in the festival.

That night we decided to head out on the town to check out some of the bars that Mari and her friends used to hang out at and where our friends used to work. The first bar was Celtic Mist, a bar our friend Shane used to manage for the several years before moving to Thailand. He had called ahead and let them know we were coming which scored us a free round of tasty beer from their ample selection. The bar was probably our favourite of the night, in part because it’s is a big part of our friends’ history and in part because the bar felt the cosiest and most relaxed of all the bars we visited.

The next bar was called The Gin Mill and immediately felt more upscale and slightly more pretentious, as you’d imagine most places with the word gin in their title would be. Here we switched to cocktails, which is probably what knocked us over into the ‘slightly too drunk’ category. The bar has a couple of pool tables where we fumbled through a game before heading to our last venue for the night.

Floyd’s felt friendlier than The Gin Mill and probably had a bigger range of beer available but was a lot busier. It was more of your traditional pub environment and was by far the busiest of the bars we visited. It was probably because it was later in the evening but it also meant that the upstairs pool tables were all occupied, with others waiting in the wings to take the next games. We found a little table off to the side where our last drinks of the evening sent us into the ‘definitely too many’ range and we low-key stumbled our way into an Uber and back to our beds.