Everyone loves a county fair. And as Martha, MaryAnne and I sat on the ferry after biking from Shaw, I wondered what would be in store. We would be volunteering for several hours that day, helping Mother Hildegard and the mothers in doing so. I took my place next to the fleece after being chided for having brought my iced coffee into the prize textile room. They didn’t know I was a volunteer at the time. It happens.
My companions were Margaret, Maxine, another woman originally from Dusseldorf. All craftswomen, all artists, all at least three decades older than me, all beautiful. Maxine, outgoing and cheerful from Brooklyn, spinning wool by the fleece, trespassing the “Do Not Touch” signs, allowing passerby to feel the woolly packs. “I bought these anyway,” she winked. “How can you go through a textile room and not be able to touch anything? That’s what it’s all about.” I don’t think the makers of the first and second prize sweaters and socks and hats and shawls and felt would agree. But as far as she was concerned, the fleece was touchable. She pedaled there, spinning meditatively, demonstrating her art to those who passed and looked, giving them tufts of the fleece to touch and smell as she explained the process. She was kind and compassionate. She was living her dream of working with sheep after growing up in the big city.
The food at the fair was of course, one of my favorite parts. Gourmet hot dogs, BBQ, sweet tea, gyros, pie a la mode, snow cones mountain high, peaches and cream. After my shift was over at 3, I found myself eating amidst the color and chaos and walking around the fair. There was food, art, music, shopping, learning. MaryAnne and I made our way over to the 4H room and found the project Mother Hildegard had worked on with the children on crows. “Any ribbon?” we asked an official looking lady. “Oh yeah,” she said, and quickly pulled out the Best in Show and First Place awards. “I hadn’t put them out yet.” Mother would be pleased.
At around 4:15 I went to the Lopez Island Creamery truck I had loved after I found out they were responsible for taking the lavender from the farm and creating it into the cold ice cream masterpiece I had tried the week before. “My wife over here is responsible for that recipe,” said the owner. I thanked her for her contribution to humanity. “What’ll ya have?” “Well a scoop of chocolate almond chunk for sure,” I said. “And I can’t decide between wild blackberry and Skagit strawberry. You pick one for me.” “How about a little of both?” he replied. And before I knew it, I had just about three scoops of ice cream in my cone. I was both delighted and slightly concerned.
It was a long, “hot” day—hot for the West coasters anyway. The three of us sat on the ferry ride back, along with other families, dogs and teens, drowsy and satisfied. I moved to the outside balcony after talking to ten year old Sasha and meeting her dog Lola for half an hour and sat down. The sun was beginning its descent back into what seemed like the depths of the earth. A breeze licked my face and my shirt danced. I was at peace until the landing at Shaw, until I walked downstairs and realized that my bike was on the other side of the boat, barricaded by cars.