It is time for county fairs in our area of the country. Our summers, from the time my sisters were old enough to belong to the 4-H club until the youngest of our family had graduated from high school, were spent doing projects for the Plymouth County Fair. We made dresses or blouses and skirts to be modeled by whomever had made them at a style show during the fair. We learned to refinish furniture and sew curtains. We were taught how to bake everything from dinner rolls to cakes and everything in between.
One year my sister and her friend, Rita, were going to give a demonstration on following a recipe, measuring ingredients accurately, creaming sugar and shortening and doing all that was necessary to make oatmeal cookies. That summer it was the only kind of cookie made at our house. We lived through the early tries when the cookies came out of the oven as very thin, crispy discs to the final very beautiful looking cookies. By the time we got the really good cookies we were a family who no longer considered oatmeal cookies to be a treat.
During the next phase of my life I was a leader for my daughter's club and once again spent a summer stressed out as I tried to encourage and even bully the girls into stretching their talents and filling out their record books. Rules had changed. The girls were allowed to have some of the same projects as the boys and many clubs had gone co-ed. I was pleased ours was still made up of all girls and none of the girls in our group wanted to show rabbits, chickens, steers or pens of pigs or sheep. They had a wide enough choice of projects without getting into the livestock arenas. They still gave demonstrations and did all of the Becky-home-eccie stuff, but there were now other competitions. They could enter pencil sketches, water-colors, oil paintings or an exhibit of photographs and learn from the critiques of experts. They could model clothing they had chosen, not necessarily sewn by the girl wearing it. They could perform a skit, do a song and dance act, play an instrument or do a comedy routine in the talent show tent. The goal was to learn from the criticisms and suggestions of those judging the events or exhibits and, if possible, earn the right to take their projects to the next level, the state fair.
Now we are in the final phase of our lives. Getting ready to go to the fair no longer causes us any stress. We go to see the performances. We wander through the exhibit buildings marveling at the talents of the current generation of young folks. This year a deceased friend's granddaughter was going to perform at the fair. Danika had left our area to live in Nashville where she is pursuing her singing and songwriting career. We were there to enjoy hearing her sing and to show her our support. Midway through her performance she left the stage to wander through the audience. She popped herself onto my husband's lap and looked into his eyes as she sang. I was so surprised I didn't think to give her chase with the umbrella I was holding. I told her later that I was jealous because my husband doesn't even let me sit on his lap anymore. If I try, he says, "Get up. My knees hurt." He countered by reassuring her, "It was fine, Danika. All my pains disappeared just then."
I bought one of her CDs anyway. I thought about it. How much of a threat can she be living that far away? And, to her credit, she may have given my guy momentary relief from pain. I did notice, however, that he was walking just as slowly when we left as when we arrived. I guess his joint pains had returned. I am sure this little incident will not cause me to go back to suffering stress every year when county fair time approaches.