Birds, baubles and books

In a span of four days, I experienced one of the hottest days at the Minnesota State Fair — void of lines to see virtually everything — to the record-setting, can’t-walk-in-a-straight-line, shoulder to shoulder mass of people that thought Sunday would be the best day to visit the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Yes, I was one of the 236,197 people to pass through the state fair’s gate on Sunday — a day that broke the single-day attendance record in the fair’s history, according to a press release I received Tuesday morning at the office.

Lucky me!

Aside from waiting in traffic to park, bumping into total strangers frequently and finding few empty benches to sit and take a break, it was still an enjoyable experience.

For starters, I found some more stress pets to add to my stress farm at the office. I now have a soft-squeezing ear of corn, pig, sheep and cow to join my pair of chickens, can of soup, peanut, tractor and another cow. Unfortunately, the stress horse was sold-out earlier at the fair.

In addition to my new stress pets, I splurged on a CD, “Bird Songs of the Northwoods.” It features multiple bird sounds, including my favorite and Minnesota’s official bird, the loon.

Well, as I opened the windows Monday to air out the house from the toxic aroma of cleaning supplies I was using, I cranked up the CD to enjoy nature’s music.

It didn’t take me long to realize my CD was wreaking havoc on the real-life bird population in my backyard. They were going crazy, chirping angrily at the bird sounds coming from my home — it was rather comical. I wonder what they thought when the sounds of birds chirping shifted to the rustling waters of a waterfall, then the rumbles of a thunderstorm.
I have a feeling my new CD will be well-used when it comes to those depressing mid-winter days.

While summer doesn’t officially end until later this month, Labor Day weekend typically signals the end of summer days, and for me, it means an end to my summer reading program.

Years ago, while living in Redwood County, I decided that my summers would be dedicated to the enjoyment of reading. It was too hot, after all, to sit underneath a stitching lamp on those sultry mid-summer evenings — but not too hot that I couldn’t grab a good book and sit outdoors to soak up the sunshine.

So, the needlework was set aside at the end of May, and the stash of books I’d collected were brought out. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, my spare time this summer was spent with my nose in a book, enjoying tales set in scenic coastal Washington, cattle ranches of Montana and parts hither and yon.

I’m on my 22nd book as of today, and when I’m finished, I’m going to pack up the rest of my stash to wait until next summer — or at least attempt to! I just love escaping my real life and feeling like I’m in another time, another place, if only for an hour or two a day.

Books, baubles (stress pets) and chirping birds — a combination sure to offer relaxation for those who work in a deadline-oriented environment.

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