My family makes an annual two hour drive north to the small town of Ponca, Nebraska to participate in Halloween-related festivities as well as partaking in Busch Light around the campfire. My friends in California would say, "Oh, how Midwestern...do you make casseroles, too?" Yes. Yes, we do.
The Halloween events range from ridiculous to traditional. On the ridiculous side, the pumpkin roll. This involves standing at the top of the hill and hurling a pumpkin down. Whoever makes it the furthest wins. I've always thought this event was silly (probably because I never won) but I remember fondly the year Dad got hit in the head by an errant pumpkin and that more than makes up for all of my mixed emotions about this one. He was uninjured, which is why it's funny now, and he wore a bicycle helmet the next year just in case. On the more traditional side is a haunted hayrack ride (I'm too cool to admit it's sometimes scary) and pumpkin carving contest (The family with knives? Sounds juicy!).
Over the years, Ponca has taken on almost mythical qualities in my head. Whenever I see something naturally beautiful, I compare it to Ponca. I have compared the mountains of Oakland, the Redwood trees of San Francisco, the rare spot of forest in South Korea, and even the ocean to Ponca. If something is outside, I will probably say it looks like Ponca. Ponca is my nature. I make no apologies.
Ponca is a time and place of simple pleasures and good conversations, and I look forward to when I can return and take Chin-Hwa on a hike through the forests before we enjoy a Phase 10 tournament with Chris's chex mix.