Saturday, August 9, 2014

Take me to the fair...

Our county has a small town feeling we treasure,
and that's perhaps most evident during the County Fair.

It's quintessential Americana and for all its cheesiness, we absolutely adore it.
It's probably like most of the other county fairs in rural America,
stereotypes come to life.


We have to walk past the carnival games and rides, where the colors are garish and we can listen to the children beg for a stuffed animal.

We walk through barns stuffed with entries for best dill pickles, most appealing pie, most skillfully stitched quilt. 

We ooh and ahh and comment on whether we think the judges got it right and pause at the beekeeping and master gardener booths.

We're suckers for the horses, the rodeo and barrel racing. 
Ditto for the crazy expensive pretzels and barbecued everything and the lemonade.

And especially the horchatas made by our Hispanic neighbors. Deliciousness!

But we linger longest in the animal barns, gazing at goats, sheep, cows and pigs with admiring eyes.

4-H is big in our county and it involves entire families.

We come to root for our neighbor kids, searching for Hannah's bunnies and Ian and Danny's goats.

We pitied the sheep waiting to be judged, their fleeces kept clean from straw by special coats 
that made us laugh and speculate on how humiliated they'd be if they knew how they looked,
like some crazy parody of a Klu Klux Clan scene.

Contented pigs napped in the sun, pig tails and cloven hoofs twitching now and then.

I love gazing at the people even more than the animals.
You can't help but notice that everyone is included, welcomed, and given a place here.

The feeling of belonging is so plain and priceless.

There are no pretenses at all, though the nicest boots and hats and buckles definitely come out during fair days.

At the height of summer, there is truly nothing more all-American than a couple of hours spent rubbing shoulders with your neighbors down at the county fair.

Friday, August 8, 2014

God bless our farmers

When Steve invited the neighbors to share his abundance of lovely yellow beans, I was twice blessed. 

His crop of beautiful mixed zinnias beckoned me and a host of happy bees and ladybugs.

There I was in the middle of his fields, surrounded by swallows and hummingbirds, warmed by sunshine and the creative flow.

After sketching, I pulled some lovely beans to steam for supper...

I cycled down the road for home, past the hay farmers harvesting their third cutting...

... past horses content in their paddocks and fruit ripening in the sun.

There is such a debt of gratitude we owe to those whose labor feeds us all.
How wonderful it is to till the soil and watch the sprouting plants.
What a special skill those farmers have, being able to coax food from the land.

Food doesn't come from a grocery store, 
it comes from the sweat and toil of those skilled and dedicated farmers who grow it.

God bless our nation's farmers, who give us both food and beauty.