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Happy Birthday to Me

Photo Credit: Easement via Flickr

When I was little, there was an amusement park in Maryland called the Enchanted Forest.  I have a bunch of memories from visits to the park, but none as vivid as the last time we went right before the park closed.  We knew that it was going to be our last time there, and even though I was too old for the park by that point, I became obsessed with this idea of catching one of the goldfish in the fishing pond.  They gave you a piece of corn on the end of a hook, and you held it in the water until a goldfish bit down on it.  I don’t even think you got to keep the fish, so I’m not sure why it felt so important to stand there with this hook and corn doing something I actually felt was cruel to the fish and not much fun for the human.

My father stayed with me while my mother took my sister and brother on the Alice in Wonderland ride, something I really wanted to do — more than fish — but I couldn’t tear myself away from the pond.  I just stood there with my dad, dragging the line through the water towards the goldfish, begging one of them to bite down.  None did.  My mother returned with my siblings, and we left the park.  And I remember being so angry with myself for not going on the Alice in Wonderland ride, especially knowing I could never go on it again.

Photo Credit: Easement via Flickr

I knew that people had moved pieces from the amusement park to Elioak Farm, but I never went to Elioak, even though it wouldn’t be a big deal to look up directions on a map and find it.  I don’t know what kept me from going to see it any more than I know what kept me from walking away from the goldfish pond.

A few weeks ago, the twins and I drove out to Columbia to see a school.  It took us 45 minutes to drive out there on the highway, and I decided to try the backroads to get home to see if it was any faster.  We got behind a slow-moving truck in Columbia and followed it on the one-lane road for over an hour while I kept an on-going monologue in my head torn between the greatness of the school and the distance from our house.

And as we drove through Ellicott City, behind the slowest truck in the world, going a very cautious 30 miles an hour, I saw the sign for Elioak Farm and the castle just a few meters back from the entrance.

Photo Credit: Easement via Flickr

There it was, just this quick snapshot.  This click of a moment, like opening your front door to find yourself back in your childhood house for a few seconds.  I wanted to be back at the Enchanted Forest so badly that it felt exactly as if it were the 1980s, and I was walking to our car with all the grief of botching my final visit.  I wanted to be a child again, going up to the top of the castle and waving down at my parents below.  Seeing the pieces was like snuggling down in a too-large sweatshirt.  I almost turned the car around at the next street to go back to the farm, but instead I called into the backseat, “will you take me there for my birthday?”

So that’s how I’m spending my birthday this weekend.

Just in case you were wondering what I might do to celebrate turning 38.

And I don’t mean to sound morose, but I always get down near my birthday.


1 jodifur { 06.01.12 at 8:13 am }

Happy Birthday! I always get down near my birthday too! I hope you have a great weekend!

2 Elizabeth :: Bébé Suisse { 06.01.12 at 8:50 am }

Ah, this brings back memories of another Enchanted Forest near where I grew up. I used to love it so much. It’s still there, but I’m not.

I hope this birthday, and this return visit, bring you all the wonders and joys and magic of childhood.

3 Meredith { 06.01.12 at 8:56 am }

Happy birthday! You are the best!

4 KeAnne { 06.01.12 at 9:05 am }

Happy Birthday! I think your birthday is the same day as my son’s (Saturday)! I love the idea of the Enchanted Forest, and I hope you have a good weekend revisiting it.

5 Tiara { 06.01.12 at 9:10 am }

Very Happy Birthday! Sounds like you’ll have a fantastic time!!

6 Nancy { 06.01.12 at 9:11 am }

Have a wonderful birthday Mel! Enjoy reliving your trip down memory lane. Arent those the greatest moments, reliving your memories with your children!! Have a great weekend!

7 Justine { 06.01.12 at 9:18 am }

Feel celebrated, Mel … here’s wishing you a year full of wishes come true. I, for one, am thankful for the gift of you.

8 Gail { 06.01.12 at 9:22 am }

Happy Birthday! I grew up in Maryland as well, but never went to or ever heard of the Enchanted Forest. We did go to other parks in the state, though. Enjoy your day and weekend!

9 Katie { 06.01.12 at 9:42 am }

Have an absolutely FANTASTIC birthday, Mel. xoxo

10 Michaela { 06.01.12 at 9:52 am }

Happy Birthday Mel!!

11 Delenn { 06.01.12 at 9:56 am }

I think one is only human if they feel kinda down on their birthday as they get older. I miss being a kid…I think that is partly why we have children is so we can relive our childhood through them.

To me–you are a young one–

Happy Birthday!

12 Denver Laura { 06.01.12 at 10:13 am }

Happy birthday! Mine is on Monday. I’m going camping tonight (as I have every year on/near my birthday for the last 26 years) but it’s with 2 toddlers. Should be interesting.

13 It Is What It Is { 06.01.12 at 10:16 am }

Wishing a happy and contented birthday, Mel. I loved 38 and hope it full of wonder for you.

You are allowed to feel however you feel on your birthday, but I hope morose gives way to satisfaction. 38 is great.

14 Esperanza { 06.01.12 at 10:23 am }

Happy Birthday! I hope it’s a good one.

15 Ellen K. { 06.01.12 at 10:35 am }

Happy birthday, Mel! I hope it’s only minimally morose. (BTW, I love your idea of the floating birthdays for the twins — I think I’ll steal it.)

16 loribeth { 06.01.12 at 10:47 am }

Happy birthday, Mel! : ) May the Enchanted Forest be just as enchanting as you remember it to be.

17 Elizabeth { 06.01.12 at 11:03 am }

Happy birthday to you! And 100 more, as they say here 🙂
I hope the trip down memory lane will be comfort food for the soul.

18 gwinne { 06.01.12 at 11:04 am }

Happy birthday!

19 k { 06.01.12 at 11:07 am }

Happy Birthday, Mel. Much love to you.

20 Wolfers { 06.01.12 at 11:12 am }

Happy birthday, going back to your childhood is natural- something you were happy, ad now you got the opportunity to go through some happy moments! 🙂

21 Anne { 06.01.12 at 11:13 am }

We go to Elioak in the fall to see the animals and get a pumpkin. The pieces from Enchanted Forest are neat. There are more pieces in Ellicott City (I think it’s route 40). You’ll see them as you drive down the road. I never knew Enchanted Forest, but I’ll bet it’s neat with the nostalgia factor!

22 Blanche { 06.01.12 at 11:32 am }

Happy Birthday to you!

23 Jess { 06.01.12 at 11:40 am }

I grew up in Maryland too and also have wonderful memories of Enchanted Forest. My sister and I loved it as kids and going there was the biggest treat. I didn’t know they had moved pieces to Eliok Farm until I went with my twins a few years ago to get pumpkins and saw all of the pieces there. It was such a blast from the past.

Wishing you a wonderful birthday celebrating a special part of your own childhood. Hope it’s as special as you remember.

24 Mo { 06.01.12 at 11:42 am }

Happy Birthday!!!

25 Twangy { 06.01.12 at 12:38 pm }

Happy birthday! Enjoy most thoroughly.

26 Seriously?! { 06.01.12 at 12:44 pm }

Such a great way to spend your birthday! 74 sure is a great year!!! 😉

Happy Birthday Mel!!!

27 Dora { 06.01.12 at 1:03 pm }

Happy birthday! Have a GREAT time!

28 Astral { 06.01.12 at 1:15 pm }

Happy Birthday to one of the most wonderful people I know! I wish you all the best pretty girl today and always!!!!

29 Pie { 06.01.12 at 1:26 pm }

Happy birthday Melissa!!! How have I never heard of the Enchanted Forest? Clearly my parents were not up on cool things to do with us. I hope you have a wonderful time this weekend and catch that goldfish!

30 Betty M { 06.01.12 at 1:56 pm }

Happy Bitthday!!

31 HereWeGoAJen { 06.01.12 at 2:11 pm }

I will tell you happy birthday tomorrow, Trifecta member.

32 Kimberly { 06.01.12 at 3:05 pm }

Happy Birthday Mel!! <3

33 Emily { 06.01.12 at 3:48 pm }

Happy Birthday! We used to have 2 places like that by me. A whole fairytale village and a huge gingerbread castle. They both closed down about 10 years ago. I was very sad because it was a piece of my childhood gone. The buildings and everything are still there just rotting away. I keep hearing people saying someone is going to restore it all. I hope it’s true. I would love to bring my kids one day.

34 Jendeis { 06.01.12 at 4:22 pm }

Happy birthday sweetie! Dutch Wonderland is still open if you want to visit a childhood place. 🙂

35 a { 06.01.12 at 5:34 pm }

Happy Birthday, youngster! I am not fond of my birthday either, so I hope this one is everything you hope for!

36 Erica { 06.01.12 at 6:47 pm }

Happy Birthday!

37 Tireegal { 06.01.12 at 9:52 pm }

Happy hoppy skippity skippity cha cha do si do slow slow quick quick slow grapevine to the right electric slide shuffle shuffle toe toe shake your booty birthday to you, Mel!
Good look on the school hunt and I hope the birthday melancholia isn’t too marked:) xoxo

38 Io { 06.01.12 at 10:13 pm }

Those pictures make it look like a dream…have fun visiting, I hope you enjoying revisiting pieces of childhood. Have a good birthday friend!

39 Daryl { 06.01.12 at 10:37 pm }

Happy birthday!

40 jjiraffe { 06.02.12 at 12:31 am }

Happy Birthday! Hope you have an Enchanted one 🙂

41 StacieT { 06.02.12 at 1:02 am }

Happy Birthday, Mel. I hope your visit to the Enchanted Forest is wonderful!

42 Jonelle { 06.02.12 at 2:15 am }

Happy Birthday sweet, and wonderful, Mel! You are a delight and an inspiration to me. I hope you have and enchanting day!

43 Stinky { 06.02.12 at 6:11 am }

birthday felicitations my dear. Hope the Enchanted Forest rocks the day, sounds like a fab way to spend the day!

44 Mina { 06.02.12 at 6:37 am }

Happy birthday to you,
Mashed tomatos and stew,
Happy biiirthdaaay to yoooou,
Happy birthday, dear Mel!

45 shannon { 06.02.12 at 7:05 am }

Happy Birthday! Enjoy the farm — the folks at Clarks Elioak are fantastic people. It’s not the same as the Enchanted Forest, but it brings back tons of lovely memories to see your kids wandering through the same structures you did as a kid.

46 Mud Hut Mama { 06.02.12 at 9:01 am }

What a cool way to celebrate your birthday. I’m turning 38 on Sunday – do we share a birthday or are you on Saturday? Either way have a great time at the farm celebrating with your family.

47 Jo { 06.02.12 at 11:46 am }

Happiest of birthday wishes for one of the smartest, bravest, most fearless women I know. Much love and hopes for a fabulous year ahead!

48 ellen { 06.02.12 at 11:55 pm }

There’s no crying on birthdays/baseball!
I hope today was happy and the year ahead is wonderful, my dear friend.

49 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 06.03.12 at 12:39 am }

When I thought I might move to that area, I’d totally scoped out Elioak as a fun place to bring my twins, and I think maybe even asked you about it, but never imagined the significance that those pieces have to you (nor that there is any destination like that in the state of Maryland that you haven’t been to).

I hope you are having a wonderful birthday weekend and a magical time revisiting those memories and making new ones.

50 Manapan { 06.03.12 at 5:24 am }

I hope you had a nice birthday!

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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