Saturday, August 21, 2010
Sweet Fair Days and A Tribute to Belle
So, when I was about 12 years old, my parents convinced me to take a pig to the fair as a 4-H project. I wasn't too keen on the idea, but my sister, who must have been 14, and my brother, 11, were taking pigs as well, and the care was split three ways. We spent our hot summer days in the tomato and pepper patches, which we loathed, and then one of us would step into the hot, dusty pig shed to water and feed the pigs. Not much to it, really. Occasionally, as part of the project, we were to get the pigs out, or climb into the pen with them, to "get used to them" and "train them," or something. (This was the part about which I wasn't fond.)
I, perhaps unwisely, even named my pig. That stinky pink sow was Belle, to me.
Summer marched on, and fair time drew near. Back then, the pigs all had to be tested for drugs or steroids or something, so the local vet had to make farm rounds in the weeks leading up the fair. The day Doc Lowe came to our place was in the 90s. And the quest for Belle's blood wasn't pretty. She ran, she squealed, she fought like hell (like somebody I know). And damned if she didn't end up having a heart attack and DYING!!!
Seriously, a week before the fair, my pig died.
And, as if that wasn't bad enough, I remember my dad was in Ann Arbor or someplace for work, and my mom was charged with finding help to butcher the thing within the hour lest all the meat be spoiled in the heat. (Thanks, Neil Huck. Wasn't it you who came to our aid?)
At any rate, I didn't show a pig that year, or EVER. In a wry twist of fate, my sister's pig was a mere two pounds underweight and didn't make it into the fair either. So, after feeding three pigs all summer, we netted just one to the fair.
And, Belle, I'm sorry about how it all turned out. It was traumatic for both of us.
These days, the fair for me is much more enjoyable. I don't have the pressure to show a pig, the frustration of unrealized teenage lust, the insecure feelings of wearing the wrong thing. In fact, now I'm a PTO booth shift worker! That's right, folks. I'm a parent. So now I get to see sights such as these: beautiful kids riding carousels, waving flags while watching parades, smiling big from the most rickety rides and feeding OTHER PEOPLE'S animals. Seriously, folks, it doesn't get much better than this.
If you live in the area and haven't yet visited the Waterford Community Fair, go tomorrow and get yourself a lemon shake and at least one delectable food item.
And, if you get down the hill and get a whiff of those pigs, please help me to remember Belle, who taught me that you can fight like hell sometimes and still not make it to the goal.
And now: My beautiful kids!