It was county fair time last week, and the kids and I quietly gathered a few items to exhibit in the open class…just for fun.
A few of my photographs…this first one, such a sweet little duckling, and such a sad story! My dear friend Linda, my country neighbor…her little son called me up several weeks ago, entreating us all to come and see! the baby ducks had been born! We all just oohed and ahed at the darlings, hiding there under the mama. It was hot, and a tray of water had been set out for them to wade in. Somehow, no one quite knows how, every one of the six ducklings drowned two days after this picture. I’ll frame this for Linda.
This old fence, like any other country fence, its splintered wood and barbed wire marking a boundary, just captured me. Who twisted those wires way back before rust took hold? What was this barrier keeping in or keeping out?
Did you grow up looking forward to the fair? For me it was the Cochise County Fair in Douglas, Arizona when I was very young. You must know about the cotton candy, cowboy hats and rodeo, happy music, dizzying rides, the earthy smell of livestock, colorful people? Oh, I loved it, and also that long, quiet ride home, all exhausted from that spun out endless day, sleepy eyes on the black sky with twinkling stars, one with my name, and if I turned my head back I could still see the fireworks exploding against that great dark canopy above.
My last year there, I brought my 4-H lamb. There under the bluest sky with those classic Arizona clouds, little white puffs that went on forever, I washed my lamb in the livestock pen, preparing for a final shear, adding to those little white puffs above. This was a market lamb, and this was time for goodbye, a goodbye to daily feedings, walkings, worrying about weight, wool, and bracing a lamb. I remembered when I chose this one, there at Diane’s place down the dusty road from me, and I had the last pick since I drew the shortest straw, but this was the best lamb for me, even though he escaped more than once to explore the tumbleweeds.
My kids didn’t have animals to show this year, but perhaps next time. We submitted photographs, carvings, crafts, paintings, and joined the community of people that have been gathering for a century to show the best of their harvest and hands.
Luke won a blue ribbon for his angry-browed, scar-faced, Victorian button-eyed bear.
Josie won a second-place ribbon for her watercolor of a glass bottle. I was glad the judges overlooked the potential awkwardness of an eight-year-old painting a wine bottle, but she just loved the design on the label.
Levi’s soap carving was fun, another second place. After learning how to do this at school, we spent a terrific summer day at the table slipping about in soap shavings, all the children armed with butter knives and Ivory, and Levi was the only one who could master this art. I remembered him telling his teacher, “I didn’t know I could do this.”
Then there were the “crazy critters”–those healthy creatures carved from our very food, the cucumber shark, the apple swan, and the potato porcupine.
Until next year, my fair friends.