Now that we’re in the “bleak midwinter” (even though winter has felt very spring-like in my neck of the woods), I thought it’d be fun to do a #throwback blog post of sorts about visiting my local county fair this past summer with my brother.
Going to the county fair was an annual event growing up in my house. My mother’s grandmother lived in the country, and my mom has many sweet memories of visiting and playing on the family farm with her cousins. My father also lived on a farm when he was a small boy. Consequently, both of my parents wanted my brother and me to experience even a taste of what they knew as children. Though never huge, our county fair used to be much larger than now with numerous rides and games and live musical acts. I remember always listening for the screams of the people riding one particular ride that would swing them back-and-forth to an almost vertical line. It was one of the tallest rides and looking and listening for it was a staple part of our fair experience. Of course, every year had its own special memories and moments. One year, we even were able to watch a lady being shot out of a cannon! Pretty dang amazing. One of the funniest memories I have of the fair is a cow sneezing on my brother.
Sprawled out in wide, expansive green fields beneath the grand Blue Ridge Mountains, the tents and rides were truly in a picturesque setting. The earthy animal smells and sweat only added to the whole exhausting, exhilarating experience.
My parents weren’t able to join my brother and me this year; nevertheless, I was so glad to return to the fair as we hadn’t gone in several years. It was a steaming hot and humid August day, the kind where you just surrender yourself to the heat and feel your clothes slowly dampen with streams of sweat, when my older brother and I set off. Due to a change of location, our fair had been greatly downsized, but some of our favorites were still there–the animals, the local art and photography exhibit, the farm-grown vegetables exhibit, the massive John Deere tractors with tires as tall as I am. We saw pigs being hosed down -did I mention it was hot?-fluffy baby chicks, and adorable miniature therapy horses, among other farm denizens. The day we went there was even a blacksmith demonstration taking place.
Although my brother and I both agreed that we are glad we grew up with the fair as it used to be, going back lifted my spirits. I am finding more and more that I love being out in the country and surrounded by nature, its simplicity and its bigness. To borrow a phrase from Fulton Sheen, “the fecundity of life” is everywhere. That day at the fair, I found myself feeling friendlier toward people and more confident–no expectations or pretensions of mankind. It seems to me that man can be more himself and yet be drawn out of himself more readily in the country. I loved seeing the 4-H club kids tending their animals and the sweaty, rosy-cheeked babies reaching out to pet their furry friends. I was ready to move to a farm and enroll my non-existent, future children in 4-H.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, that day I felt the country stir my soul and speak to my heart. Out in God’s country, it’s not as if one’s problems or worries vanish, but suddenly, it’s like the weight of them is lifted. One knows that they will be solved and that one will have the strength to handle them. There is more freedom and space to breathe.
I would love to live in a more rural setting one day and when I am hopefully blessed with children, I would not completely disregard the idea of them participating in 4-H.
Man today is so deracinated (to use a fancy, college word), meaning he has lost his connection to the soil, to nature and its rhythms, to nature’s Creator and as a result, he is losing touch with himself and those around him. Of course, both country and city-living have their pros and cons and one shouldn’t idealize or romanticize either one, but I think it would do this stressed-out, over-technological, consumerist society a world of good to return a bit more to the serene glories as well as the raw realities of the country.
In the meantime, please enjoy some photos from my brother’s and my excursion to our county fair!
P.S. The title for this post is the name of a chapter in the children’s literature classic Charlotte’s Web, one of my favorite books!