Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers
I went to the Washington County Fair for selfish reasons. For the first time in almost two decades, I will not be returning to a classroom in September, and I already miss not being with kids. So, when a friend asked me to help out at an arts and crafts table at the fair, I said “yes”… for me.
Of course, it was a magical day; I loved the chatter, the quirky observations, and the energy that flows from working with children. I had expected that.
What I hadn’t counted on was how moved I would be by the experience of watching kids tend to and “show” the livestock they had brought to the fair. Even the littlest of this army of caretakers showed such poise, sense of responsibility, and, most important, empathy, towards the various beasts in their charge. The fair lasts a week, and families were camped out by their pens, sharing in the labor of love that is raising and tending to livestock.
Shepherd in training that I am, I had questions for these young people, who were so much more knowledgeable than I am, and they answered with such confidence and affection for the beasts in their care. Again, I was moved by their empathy, and the way that they paid attention to these animals and tried to intuit their needs.
The whole county was there, it seemed, in this celebration of the work of farming that sustains the county as a whole. The wool I helped children weave into little tapestries was harvested and milled locally, the maple ice cream I enjoyed came from cows I pass by every day and maple trees which give shade to the hills around us. Living here, as I do now, the fair felt personal.
Farming is hard work, and these days the family farm (which is the kind of farming that takes place in our county) is under unbelievable stress. For this one week, then, it was a wonderful experience to be a part of celebrating a way of life, to pay just homage to it.