Mariya Khan is a graduate of The George Washington University and Summer Institute at the University of Iowa International Writing Program. Her work has received awards from the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition and appeared in has appeared in 50 Word Stories, Asians in America, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and Constellate Literary Journal, among others. When she is not writing, she's trying new recipes and watching crime dramas.
2:54pm: A Parade
Bluestone’s 150th Annual Apple-Picking Festival (VT) 2:54pm, parade
“I’ve been coming here for 60 years. My husband Jim & I moved here a week before the festival, so we thought it was the best way to meet people. It’s such a small town, so I figured that some sort of big event like this would be fun. Sam and I met Louise here at the orchard. Well, Louise & her late husband Dave, God rest his soul. Louise here dropped her whole basket of apples & I helped her pick them up. So many bruised babies. But Louise here, don’t you remember Louise, Louise said to me, ‘Oh, don’t worry. I’ll make some pie when I go back. No one can tell the difference.’ & Louise sure did. It turned out that Louise & Dave, God rest his soul, lived down the street from us. She rang our doorbell the next day carrying the best pie I’ve ever tasted in my life. I don’t know how Louise does it, I think it’s butter brushed on the crust or something. She makes three pies every Sept, & every year we fill up three baskets each from the orchard.” – Melanie Parker, 85 yrs. “This parade is the funnest part! That’s my best friend Angelica up there w/ her older sister! Their mommy spent eight hours making their outfits & putting on all those jewels. It looks so sparkly. I said that she looks pretty. She’s so glittery on that apple float. It only looks nice because it is sunny. I think that the rain & clouds would make it ugly. We practiced her wave so that she’d look like a princess. Like Princess Sophia. It’s her first year doing this. We like playing the apple games over there, but she’s doing the parade. Mommy said that I can be on a float in the next parade. Maybe she can make me an apple outfit or I can look like Tinkerbell. Do you think I look like Tinkerbell? She’s my favorite fairy in the movie.” – Shelby Hicks, 9 yrs. “I live, like, 45 minutes away. Yeah, I know it seems like a lot to just come for apples. Hell, back home, Mama wouldn’t let us go 30 minutes away to a mall that had the only Claires w/in a 100 miles. Oh, my home? Way down in VA, in a town so small that this feels like New York City to me. I know, that’s crazy. Just like my love with these apples. But they’re so good! Just the freshest apples you’ve ever eaten in your life. That snap & crunch when you bite into the apples is so loud, I love it. Let me tell ya, that’s when you can tell you got a good apple. Each of the kids get their own bucket to take home, so our kitchen is always overflowing w/ apples. I take a bunch to work & everyone in the office loves it. I don’t even need to bake them into desserts or anything, b/c everyone just grabs them. Then for the next few days you just hear those snaps & crunches in the office all day. Music to my ears, let me tell ya.” – Wanda Shelby, 28 yrs. “I grew up near Chicago, & here you just really feel a strong sense of community. There’s a huge Desi community downtown, but I lived in the suburbs where I was one of the few non-white people in the neighborhood. I loved the community in downtown Chicago, but when we moved I barely had any friends. No one wanted to be around me if it wasn’t for school projects. But here is different. I don’t live in this town, I’m a professor at Middlebury, but whenever I come here I always feel like I’m back in downtown Chicago. Everyone seems to know each other & it seems like some families have been here for generations. I love it. I don’t know, it feels like everyone belongs here. & it’s not just white people here, it’s a whole slew of diverse people that it just makes me feel happy to be around them all. I wish I had festivals like this growing up. I bring my kids here every year, even now when they’re starting to outgrow it, b/c I want them to experience what I didn’t. Even though they are fine at their schools, I want them to come here & feel like everyone at the stalls & the orchard knows their name, that they feel safe & comfortable here. Yeah, you’re right, like a little safe haven. Or something like that.” – Mariam Ahmed, 41 yrs. “It’s not the same as it was 50, 55 years ago. When I was a kid, they didn’t have the parade. I guess it’s a way to bring more people here. B/c I’m sure people from neighboring towns are coming even though they’re not from here. That’s why it’s so crowded now. What happened to just going to the orchard & picking those apples? At least the apples look & taste the same. You know you’ve found a good one when you can see the shine all the way from up in the tree. I remember my youngest daughter, Sadie, always found the good apples. She doesn’t come anymore. I don’t know, she’s somewhere in the Midwest, in Ohio I think…she doesn’t talk to me anymore. Says she got her own life & is working all the time & doesn’t have time to come visit me. The other kids are the same way, you know, but sometimes they still come with my grandkids for the festival. Not every year, mind you, but just enough so I don’t feel too lonely. My wife got cancer six years ago, so it’s just me at home. I don’t know why Sadie doesn’t care.” – Jason Crews, 62 yrs. “It tires the kids out. We let them run around the orchard, pick the trees they want to pick the apples from, & play the kids games. We make it a whole day for the kids. There’s just this parade, & then we’ll go home. We’ve been here since the orchard opened at 9, so I’m not sure how long we’ll last in this sun here. But the festival always tires them out. They usually go to bed at 8, but w/ the festival they’re out at, like, 6. It’s great for us. One year, though, it rained during the festival, & it was horrible. I mean, the kids had fun. They wore rain boots, but their boots & clothes were covered in mud b/c they jumped in too many puddles. But can you imagine the chaos when we got home? Never again. I told my husband that if he wanted to do that again, then he’d be taking them to this festival, not me.” – Janice Clement, 35 yrs. “We never get a break from face-painting, so this is nice to relax. I’ve been out here since 10am painting. It’s just me & Jeffrey here, & we’ve been working this stand for 20 years. I went to college at the art school in Burlington & I grew up in this town. The mayor was golf buddies w/ my dad. But yeah, it’s nice. We usually have two long lines filled w/ kids waiting. I’ve done it all – butterflies, zebras, pandas, mermaids, unicorns, cats, dogs, frogs, bees – you name it. I love working w/ the kids & talking to them while I’m painting their faces. They’re usually really nice kids, little chatterboxes really. They could talk for hours if there wasn’t a line behind them. I don’t have any grandkids, but this is what I imagine having grandkids is like. I’ll be painting their faces all the time like here.” – Roland Hayes, 47 yrs.