I pulled into the driveway of the family farm late Sunday afternoon, and I could tell before I even parked the car in front of the garage that I didn’t want to step foot outside.
Oh, it was a beautiful day — certainly one to lure me to the solitude of the great outdoors. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to be in the great outdoors with certain other critters, specifically, my Molly.
Molly — the loveable mutt that more resembles a black lab than the full-fledged German shepherd that was her mother — loves to put her front feet on the floor board when I open my car so she can get an affectionate pat on the top of her head, a tickle behind the ears and a nose-to-nose greeting.
Only I wasn’t about to give her an affectionate pat on the head, a tickle behind the ears — and certainly not a nose-to-nose greeting — this time. In fact, I didn’t want to be within arm’s reach of her.
The problem is sort of a Catch-22. In all honesty, Molly was being Wonder Dog again, saving me from the dangers that lurk in the newly mowed lawn — the kind of dangers that slither and hiss and cause me to scream with all of the power my lungs will allow.
Yes, Molly had killed another garter snake.
And she wasn’t done torturing it when I drove onto the yard.
To spare you the visions still clearly embedded in my memory, suffice it to say the deed was already done when I arrived. Molly had moved on to the “I’m just playing with it” stage.
She picked it up, whipped it from side to side, and then flipped it up in the air. (You can understand why I didn’t want to step out of the car. I could just see Molly losing her toothy grip on the reptile and flinging it in my direction — I shudder just thinking about it!)
She dropped the snake when I shut off the engine, and quickly made her way to the driver’s side door, waiting to greet me.
I looked at her. She looked at me. The door was closed. The window was closed. She wagged her tail. I cringed.
As expected, she put her feet in my car when the door opened, and she knew enough to back away when I said, “Molly, No!”
The poor girl. I felt really bad. She did the one thing I most admire her for — helping to control the farm’s snake population — and yet I couldn’t congratulate her properly. That would have required touching her and, well, she had snake germs — everywhere.
So, with my hands well out of Molly’s reach, I said, “Good girl, Molly! You are awesome!
“But I’m not letting you in the house.”
Mom and I were sitting on a bench in front of the Minnesota State Fair grandstand Sunday afternoon, resting our tired feet and legs for about the fifth time, when I said, “I think we’ll skip going to the state fair next year.”
Yes … I said that!
And Mom even nodded in approval.
Perhaps it was the heat talking — or maybe the humidity. Or maybe we were just tired of sweat dripping off the tips of our noses. Actually, I think we were just plain tired.
In the span of four weeks, we had maneuvered our way through the Nobles County Fair, the Iowa State Fair and finally, the Minnesota State Fair. I can’t say we’re entirely “faired out” because I hope to visit the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa, next week.
I had even timed my upcoming vacation to visit the Mississippi State Fair, notching another state — and state fair — off my list of places to see, but I’m starting to rethink those travel plans. While I have always loved to travel, the best parts of the trip seem to be the starting out — the excitement and anticipation of things to see and do — and the coming home to all things familiar, including home-cooked meals and my comfy recliner.
Then again, fall travel provides that last nice getaway before Mother Nature starts spitting snow and freezing rain, pushing those of us who don’t like the cold — or the shortened days of sunlight — into the winter doldrums.
As soon as the snow melts in the spring until it returns late in the fall, we Minnesotans have to soak up all the outdoors fun we can. It can be downright exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.
I just keep telling myself the rest and relaxation will come when winter arrives. I’ll be able to put my feet up and sit under the heat lamp — I mean stitching lamp — to finish some needlework projects. There’s also a bookshelf filled with must-reads just waiting to take me on an adventure without leaving my house in the dead of winter.
I can hardly wait for the days to put more time into my hobbies, but until then, I’ll be soaking up the sunshine outdoors.
What is a gal to do after surviving five days of sweltering heat at the Nobles County Fair, followed by a day-long project putting together the special fair supplement for the Daily Globe and then writing a handful of stories to round out the week?
Well, go to the fair again, of course!
Four years after our first visit to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, my mom joined me on a quick trip to the land of corn, soybeans and swine last weekend. We admired more than a hundred quilts, dozens of cross-stitched pieces and a disappointingly small collection of hardanger embroidery.
We walked passed several pork-chop-on-a-stick stands and visited the Iowa butter cow display (they added a Monopoly board, game pieces and Rich Uncle Pennybags — all created from butter — to the display this year in honor of the game’s 80th anniversary.)
I took a picture of Iowa’s largest bull contest winner (Sampson, a red Angus raised near Atlantic, Iowa, weighed in at 2,893 pounds) and snapped a photo of a tomato that resembled a chirping bird. (At the Iowa State Fair, they have a category for vegetables that are, well, a bit unique. There was a trio of potatoes shaped like zoo animals and some rather odd-looking carrots among the display.)
You could ask 100 different people what they enjoy most about the fair and you could get 100 different answers. I could give more than a dozen reasons myself. Whether county or state fair, it doesn’t matter.
I love to see the handcrafted items displayed by 4-H and open class exhibitors. Where else can you see a scale model combine built from Popsicle sticks, admire a yard art metal peacock with plumage made from silverware or smile over a colorful quilt featuring hedgehogs?
The talent and creativity people possess in making something with their own two hands is simply amazing. I am thankful for those who grow the flowers, fruits and vegetables to display at the fair, and I appreciate the young kids willing to lead a 1,000-plus pound beef steer into the show ring. I can’t operate a sewing machine, keep a houseplant alive or get within 10 feet of a large beef animal due to sheer terror, but there are people in this world who can.
The fair is a symbol of Americana — and at the Iowa State Fair that symbol may just be in the guy wearing striped bib overalls or in the teenage girl flaunting pink hair.
I can hardly wait to see what I might discover at the Minnesota State Fair next week!