I have always loved the Blue Hill Fair. It’s a small-ish country fair that’s managed to hold to its agricultural roots in today’s crazy-busy, buy-it-break-it-buy-another culture of acquisition. They had a dollar-day this year – whether they always do and I only noticed this year, or whether this year was the start of something new, it was yet another indication that belts continue to tighten but not to the point where we are without our little luxuries. An afternoon and evening of wild abandon for a family of six was seen to for a hundred dollars plus gasoline. Memories were made that will be treasured for decades, whispered into the ears of a new generation. That’s enough for me. That’s more than enough, really, feeling like a small but vital link in the chain the connects my grandparents to my grandchildren. How much more could a person ask, than that?
Looking over the pictures, I’m struck by the frantic need for amusement, the aggression, even, in ensuring that a good time is had. We were able to naively float over the top of any darkness, foam on the waves over a deep, dark sea of yearning that the children are too young for and that Niek and I have made our own peace with. I wanted to find a poem that would speak to that jangled fairground feeling but found instead an excerpt from a Louise Gluck poem that speaks to that time between abandoning those feelings and making peace with them. This is from her poem Midsummer, published in the volume A Village Life in 2009. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
The Summer night glowed; in the field, fireflies were glinting.
And for those who understood such things, the stars were sending
You will leave the village where you were born
and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful,
but always you will mourn something that you left behind, even though you
can’t say what it was,
and eventually you will return to seek it.
Another indication that summer is ending is that my dad is preparing for his return to Florida, where he seems to spend just a little bit more time each year. Florida is lucky to have him and while I wouldn’t wish to keep him here in Maine through hard winter snows, I can’t help but wish the United States were just a little smaller, that Florida was a little more within reach. <3
And of course, there is the madness of back-to-school. With four kids, this can get out of control pretty rapidly and we are ever seeking ways to normalize the transition. Max is off for his second year of high school, Nick moves into middle school (but which, due to our rural setting and low population, is still part of elementary school) while Rowen impatiently awaits her turn to move up and beyond, and Arden cheerfully prepares for the adventure of first grade. I’m in the second year of my graduate program, and find myself a little more comfortable at being part of the back-to-school group, LOL.
The farm animals also serve to keep us in sync with the passing seasons and the shorter days. The baby hogs are still adorable and small, but they have grown and we need to pasture them away from their parents, who need in turn to put their minds to the next generation of happy hogs on the farm. The goat herd has been thinned from well over 20 members to four does and three kids, with the understanding that the kids will not be wintering over with us. Baby ducklings are now adolescent ducks, unable to be cuddled and coddled but not ready to take their places beside their adult counterparts. The spring’s chicks are now the egg-suppliers of late summer – and how happy we are to have our own chicken eggs again! Baby bunnies need to be removed from one tired mama rabbit, and unbred rabbits need their turn before autumn is too far progressed. Only the guinea keets remain immature and I hope they will size out considerably before the cold weather hits. Measuring the earth’s rotation by the growth of animals has been one of the most magical elements of farming.
I’m not sure how you interpret the signs of summer giving way to autumn, but I hope the change brings you a sense of happiness and of fresh beginnings as well as some possible regret that another season is ending. Thank you for spending some time with me here, and wishing you well in whatever you are doing as one day leads to the next.