End of Summer: Fun at the Fair
There are folks who embrace Autumn as if it’s a long-lost friend. They exult in the falling temperatures, the falling leaves, the explosion of fall color, and the shortening of the days, with open arms and undisguised delight. They enjoy plowing up the garden at summer’s end, and raking up the leaves, and mowing the grass one last time, and they grin when they pull on jackets for the first time. I watch these people in curiosity and wonder, and also with just a touch of envy.
But. I am not one of them. Sometimes I wish that I was one of the Autumn-lovers. My spirit is just too tied up in green and growing things, in sunshine and blue skies and lengthening days, and the scrumptious, tantalizing out-of-doors. My forbearing husband made a comment to one of the kids the other day, explaining why something in the house hadn’t been accomplished (a room that we had started painting during the winter had never been finished, or somesuch thing): “Your mother is addicted to being outside.” I’ve been thinking about that ever since.
It’s true. I’m an outside addict. I’ve always been this way, as long as I can remember. I muddle through the cold days of winter, by becoming engrossed in books and projects and kiddos and making food and putting on a melodrama and other pursuits, but it’s during the sweet days of spring and summer and fall, when I can be outside most of the time, that I really feel alive. I think God meant for me to live in a temperate area of the world (like New Zealand) where I can be outside all day long, nearly every day.
But then, who would do all the things I do during the winter?
Apparently my brother in law, Kirk, was not one of these Autumn lovers, either. His life was cut tragically short twenty-two years ago, as he was biking on a highway and was hit by a motorist who fell asleep at the wheel. Kirk was a poetic soul, like his mother, and he wrote this:
“The autumn wind still calls me home
In voice of rustling leaves
And as I watch one more year die
Something within me grieves.” –Kirk Miller
Yup. Autumn–as lovely and as welcome and as needed as it is–makes me sad, too. Sigh. Maybe it’s because at the end of autumn, it will be winter, and winters here are long and cold and gray and icy, and for us they involve lots of wood-hauling and fire-making and woolen layering. Maybe there are other reasons. I don’t know. I just know that I fight this change in seasons as long as I can.
One fun way to keep summer going as long as possible, is
to not start school until you really have to (cough) participate in as many of the end-of-summer small town festivals and county fairs as you can. So we spent an Autumn-defying, Summer-glorifying evening at our county fair recently.
We go to our county fair every year. We cluck over the exhibits, we ooh and ahh over the handmade quilts, and we pick up enough free pencils to last us through the school year. We eat popcorn and ice cream cones, and we always watch at least a good portion of the Ranch Rodeo. We catch up with lots of friends that we don’t see enough of. This year was the first time that I can remember that the fair hasn’t been the hottest weekend of the year. It was pleasant and cool, and we even got chilly when we sat and watched the rodeo. I’ve never needed a jacket in August before, but, oh well. I wasn’t complaining. Of course, that might have been due to the snow cones we were eating. I’m so glad that Amalia had her camera along, to document our blue lips. Blue lips in August. Whoda thunk.
“Malachi . . . this painting is a take-off of the famous Grand Wood painting, American Gothic, and the folks in the real painting looked very serious. Very grim, indeed.”
“Sooo. . . . look serious! Look grim.”
“Well. Maybe not that grim.”
“What are you doing? Are you taking a nap? Are you dying? C’mon, Mack!”
“Oh, just forget about it . . . nerd! . . . ”
“I’m not the nerd, Mom, you are!”
“Mack. Enough of this. Are you ready to go to the rodeo now?”
“Not yet, Mom. Look, the petting zoo! Aww, look at the baby donkey. He’s so soft.”
“I think this little guy just wants to go home, Mom. Hey, little fella.”
“Awwww, look, Mom, a baby goat. Why don’t we have goats, Mom?”
“I’ll let Dad answer that question . . . Bryan?”
“Look, there’s the ferris wheel, Mack!”
“Ohhh, I really want to ride on the ferris wheel!”
“You mean that ferris wheel?”
“It looks awfully big. Look, it says ‘No Single Riders.’ And they’re only filling it half full. It looks old. Why do you suppose they’re only filling half the seats?”
“You mean only married people can ride it, Mom?”
“Yikes. Do you think it looks safe, honey?”
“Of course it’s safe, Mom. It says it’s over 100 years old. They’ve gotten all the bugs out by now, surely.”
“Hmm. I don’t know about that. C’mon. Let’s get in line. If I die on this ferris wheel, Mack, remember that I loved you enough to throw common sense out the window and ride this rickety old thing with you.”
“Probably it wouldn’t be a bad way to go, anyway . . . atop a ferris wheel. You know, better than dying while digging a ditch. Or fixing the toilet. Or scrubbing the shower grout, say.”
“Or cleaning my room.”
“Didn’t you clean your room before we left, like I asked you to . . . ?”
“Oh! Ulp . . . oops.”
“Yeah . . . at least we’d die with happy smiles on our faces.”
“Smiles of terror, maybe.”
“Here it goes! Wheeeee!”
“Wow. That was scarier than I thought it would be, Mom. Wanna go again?”
“Ready to go to the rodeo now, Mack?”
“Sure! But let’s get snow cones, first. Look! They have, like, 100 flavors to choose from!”
“Root beer float, cherry, pina colada, and mango!”
“I could watch these guys competing to catch the calves and brand them all night long. But my snow cone is making me cold. Whoever heard of being cold at the fair? It’s August!”
“They’re going to catch him! Go, go, go!”
Success! Smiles all around.
Okay, kiddos, it’s getting late. Ready to go home?
“Sure. Unless you want to go for another ferris wheel ride, Mom.”
“Nope. I’m good.”
“You sure? Or are you just . . . chicken?”
“Chicken? Me? No way. I went on the 100-year-old, rickety, scary-high ferris wheel once tonight. That pretty much proves that I’m not chicken. Dad didn’t go, though, and neither did Amalia.”
“Bwwwaaaack, bwack, bwack!”
“I can’t believe it, but my lips–are–blue!”
More from my site
- Oh Yeah. Putting up sweet corn. Sweet sticky goodness.
- Green Beans 101, or how not to ruin your fresh green beans
Our county fair is this week. I was there Wednesday for the 100 year celebration of 4-H and staying with my daughter while she did barn duty. Yesterday I helped out at the pregnancy hotline booth. Today I am home catching up on making soap and posting on Etsy. Saturday is goat judging and turkeys, so we will all be there all day. Sunday the kids have to help at the house of pork and then help out in the 4-H building. Monday is the demolition derby and then pack up the animals and bring them home.
I am happy I had time to read your post. I like spring, summer and fall. I am not much for cold. Take care and keep writing. 🙂
I’m surprised that you had time to read my post, with your busybusy fair schedule! We used to do 4-H (back when my daughter had horses) but we’ve not been involved with it for the past few years. That brings another fun element to the fair, especially when there are animals involved!
I am one of those crazy people that can’t wait for Autumn. The crisp morning air thrills my very soul. It’s the coziest time of year, in my mind. Perfect for sweaters and wool socks and cute hats and curling up in quilts with a hot beverage… but not so cold that you are turning blue and cursing the wind chill.
Sonia, since you put it in such a pretty way, I’ll agree. There are delights that Autumn brings!
It’s not that I love the heavy, muggy morning and evening (and daytime) air, but when I go out in the morning and the air has a faint hint of coolness to it, my heart takes a plunge. NO, NO, NO! Not another winter coming on! Now winter in Texas shouldn’t be that big a deal. It only lasts for a few weeks, but a few weeks is too long for me. Folks around here love the coolness of winter. Not me! I love the warmness of spring and fall. I love putting up the Christmas tree in my coolest clothes and not being able to work on it in the afternoons because, as the sun beats in the window, it is just too hot to stay there getting fried. I love the looks of snow. I don’t love the temperatures that keeps snow on the ground. I guess that is why I chose to live in the part of the country that has the least amount of cold weather. Well, I guess I could go to the tip of Florida and have even less winter, but here I am, compromising and putting up with some cold weeks. Even the chickens lips turn blue – well, they would if they could.
I know that I’m being a baby about this. There are some delightful things that Autumn brings . . . probably I’m focusing on the one thing it brings (winter) that I’m not so crazy about. Sorry about your chickies’ blue lips! 😉
Oh wow. seems like you had a lot of fun. Loved the pictures and the little description for each one of them. Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂
Wow, your photographer must be very good. 😉 Great post, Mom!
YES, sweetie, VERY good and very GENEROUS, too! 😉
Ha ha, my visit to the New York State fair on Monday was so boring and sedate in comparison. Guess I won’t blog about that! (Love the pictures of Little Mack.)
THanks Alana. It’s hard to go wrong when that little man is the subject. He’s endlessly entertaining!!
Great post Amy! Thanks for sharing your fun at the fair! Looks like you had an awesome time 🙂 Fantastic pics as well 🙂
THanks Joan, that reminds me, Amalia took all the pics . . . THANK YOU AMALIA!
Today is one of the best days to welcome fall in Nebraska– GO BIG RED! (I know you’re not a huge sports fan but the excitement can be contagious.) I’m wishing you a lovely, fun-filled Saturday.
Even though I’m not a big sports fan I do get excited on game days. It’s hard not to be, when everybody else is! BRG! Or, I mean. . . GTB! OR GBR!! 😉
I’ve never been to a county fair, but I do like agricultural ones. It looks like you had a great time!
Gosh you remind me of my mom! I love reading your posts because it’s like she’s RIGHT HERE. Are you channeling her? Unfortunately she passed in 1998 in her kitchen in the middle of canning season…..yup, apples & cabbages everywhere. I look forward to each new post – you & Garrison Keillor. Keep it coming
Oh, thanks, Deb. I’m hoping your mom was a very sweet and accomplished and remarkable and clever woman. I’m sure she was beautiful too. 😉 Right??
The joys of the end of the happy season. Yes it does get gray and gloomy in winter, and cold when you are in snow country. I hope that is a thing of the past for us but the way life is running at the moment it is hard to say. Things will start turning green, lots of green over the next two months down in the part of Mexico we stay while or family in Wisconsin fights the freezing cold of winter.
I loved taking the kids to the fall fairs when they were younger, somehow I could always trick my wife into riding a ferris wheel or roller coaster with one of the kids while I stayed safely on the ground and watched.
I do hope that you and Bryan have a good supply of wood cut and stacked near the back door. I have been told that it is going to be so cold in your area of the woods that this might just be the year that hell freezes over. Now that’s cold. Get a good book, some hot coco and put another log on the fire, winter only feels longer than the other seasons when it tries to slip in a little ahead of schedule, like in August and leave a little later like the end of March, first of April.
We’ve been putting up firewood every chance we get, Chef. We’ve got an impressive pile now in the shed, but still it’s probably not enough. Couldn’t I just jump onto your bumper as you drive through to Mexico . . . ?