Summer’s Gone, Bring It Awn: The Joys of Autumn
Foliage season (the tail that swings the bull of Vermont commerce), means time to reflect. With July’s hot rains there were reflecting pools (skeeter habitats) aplenty. Between that and August’s cool drought, who knows what colors our foliage will turn? It’s looking knockout.
Color me optimistic, but I feel a shift. Much terrible news notwithstanding, the People of the Land seem…hopeful! Energetic! We’re making music—beating drums, blowing horns, plucking strings with vigor—as squirrels scamper and crows caw. Hurricane-induced bridge repairs are complete. Fragrant apples fall with a thud while bears bang on the porch door. “Open up. I know you have product in there.”
The Tunbridge World’s Fair was better than ever. Kindly Ambassadors directed confused fairgoers and the Golf Cart Squad ferried the weary. The Year of the Swine theme provided natural hilarity; there’s just something funny about a pig, a nutty beast that keeps getting…larger. The revamped barns, nicely appointed with flora (kudos, Decorating Committee!), housed all manner of superb creatures basking in their creaturehood. Chickens with far-out hairdos, calves with soulful eyes, strutting peacocks, soft bunnies, a sow with 12 piglets (oof), and oxen with team names (Ben and Jerry) endured petting (and finger pokes) like pros. I asked my mother why she always walks outside of the cattle barn peering into windows, is she afraid of getting kicked inside? “I don’t want to be around if someone drops one,” she answered. A decades-old mystery solved.
Other quotes amused. Here now three: (1) My aunt has two sets of false teeth: her Smiling Teeth and her Eating Teeth. One year she lost the latter just as she was about to tuck into her fair fare (fried dough?). My father observed in the retelling, “The timing could not have been less fortunate.” (2) Upon leaving the heaving fairgrounds, I speculated how nearby houses cannot be a good place to live during the fair; you couldn’t stand the traffic so you’d sit at home for four days. Someone added after a moment, “The General Store is probably out of beer.” (3) During the Livestock Cavalcade, a senior woman resembling Katharine Hepburn whistled so loudly with her fingers that I said, “You’re good whistler!” She replied somewhat cryptically, “I stopped the California Zephyr with that.”
The Applause-O-Meter fairly exploded at the Costume Class, wherein 4H children dress up themselves and their farm animals, this year’s winner being Tunbridge Fall Formal—two girls in gowns and wrist corsages, their yoked oxen in tuxedos and top hats. The fans went wild. Except for the Harringtons of Pomfret, who had settled deeply into seating inside the Larkin Dancers’ tent and could not be reached for comment.
If you love contra dancing, Randolph’s New World Festival on Labor Day Sunday (brainchild of madman Kevin Dunwoody) is where you want to be, despite this year’s wafting BO due to unusually high temps. Although Duck for the Oyster baffled the boisterous Boyce family, who simply do not give contra dance instruction the attention it deserves, dance callers catered nicely to novices while allowing seasoned pros to peacock it with beskirted flourishes. The music enthralled, the marionettes entranced, and the hardworkin’ McMeekins held up…even if their hair didn’t in 100% humidity. The fans again went wild, as they did at the Tweed River and Bethel Forward festivals and the Festival of Fools. Things are looking UP.
Your monthly Useful Information is this: the 4 H’s in 4H Club are: head, heart, hands, and health. Your Good News is a quote from a dear friend my age: “I have a layer of cellulite over my entire body. But underneath that is a layer of muscle.”
Thank you, festival organizers, for hours of unbridled joy just when summer’s departure tries so hard to make us melancholy. We switch out swim trunks for Carhartts, kiss macaroni salad goodbye, and say Hello! to apple pie. Setting a slice aside for the bears. Like the Whos down in Whoville, we are happy. We are hopeful. We cannot be subdued. We are the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River. Good day.