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September 3, 2009

Hawthorn Hill: Nothing like a day at the fair

Few experiences are as much fun and as rewarding as a day spent at a county fair.

I have very vivid memories of our trips to the Altamont fair many years ago to show our Brown Swiss cows Josephine and Molly. The passage of time has not erased the feel of Josephine’s velvety nose against my face.

The sweet smells of barn and farm still hold up the essential structure of my being. How could it have been so many years ago when as I sit here writing about it I can see and feel and smell it all as if time had simply vanished. It was in our cow barn at the fair that I witnessed my first birth of any kind. I remember feeling an indescribable sense of wonder and joy in the presence of such a miracle.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy to fall prey to a far too deeply felt sense of pessimism about the state of affairs in these United States.

Pick up any newspaper any day of the week and there is plenty to feel depressed and dispirited about.

A day at the fair can be a temporary antidote to despair. I came away from my day the Delaware County Fair last week with my flagging sprit buoyed and reminded once again of what can be so good about this wonderful country of ours.

I love everything about a fair, but I am most drawn to the livestock barns and judging.

The young 4-H kids dressed in their show whites, who work so hard to get their animals cleaned and clipped for the show ring, warm the heart. The judges do more than merely judge; they teach.

And it is wonderful to watch and listen as judges go down the line explaining to each competitor the reasons for the final placement. I taught for thirty years, but I never ever assumed that school is the only place to learn.

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