Tuesday, November 10, 2009

City Girl Tries Farm Aid


There was a festival on a local farm yesterday.  The owner of the art gallery where I show my art asked me if I would take a booth.  I could represent myself, and the gallery.  I agreed.  Somebody should've stopped me.

The show is a yearly event with craft and antique booths, food and music, aimed at small farmers.  Therefore it's always held on a local farm, and none too easy to find, that farm.  If I hadn't printed the directions from the festival's online announcement we might still be looking.  Not many signs on country roads.  Of course, not many needed, since most people driving those roads know where they are and where they are going.  But country people are friendly.  I know because everyone waved as we past; even when we passed a second or third time!  Seems country folk will gladly direct lost city people or even lead the way, if they're asked.

We finally arrived and the lady who was my contact greeted me.  She asked a man in coveralls, who never looked up from under his cap, to take us to my booth.  It was in the back of a dilapidated structure they called the barn.  After some hesitation we started to set up.  My husband put up the table I had for cards, small prints and etc.  It immediately sank about six inches.  We, too, were sinking as we tried to walk.  An older man came in with a larger table so we told him about sinking.

"Oh yeah," he said "Well, there's an underground stream right 'bout there.  But, don't worry none, if ya sink up to yer waist, why jus' holler and we'll come pull ya out."

He tried to set up the big table.  It sank farther than ours had.  He brought the man in coveralls to help.  They found some old boards lying around and put them under the legs.

"That's good," I said.  "But People won't be able to walk around to see the art and photos, because they'll sink."

The men gave me "a look", and moved each table a little to one side.  I tried to figure out the best way to place them.  Talking to the wall might have been as helpful.  The older man, who actually was the only vocal one, said to coverall-man, "Reminds me a movin' the couch." To which coverall-man nodded.

I stopped talking.  They stared at me a few seconds and left.  Unfortunately, they returned. 

The older man pointed behind my booth to the far wall.  "Um, there's some bees 'round but don't worry none.  They're jus' rite...there." and sure enough, there they were.  Honey bees...swarming about five feet from my booth.

He continued, "Oh, and um, I think I got that ol' roof fixed so's you won't get too wet if them clouds let loose again."  Following his upward gaze I saw only a little of the dark bottomed large cloud hanging over the "barn".

By this time the whole thing was getting funny to my husband. We were setting up my art and photography in an old "barn"; on top of ancient boards over who-knew-what and a stream under all that.  There might be lots of bees buzzing around.  If it rained which was likely, we wouldn't get too wet.  The wall I was to use for hanging my work had boards that were none too close together, which meant if a wind came up, my pictures would certainly fall off.  And the supports for the roof were sitting on stacks of small boards and flat stones.  So he said, believing he was joking, "OK.  Go ahead and tell her about the snake."

And the farmer said, "Oh yeah, I did cut up a great big un right over there yesterdee, with the tractor when I was mowin' them weeds by the creek.  It was 'bout this long and big, 'bout this big 'roun', really big," he illustrated with arm and hand gestures.

I felt the color leave my face and my mouth fall open.  I tried not thinking about the family that snake probably left.  For several minutes I couldn't take my eyes off the 15 foot wide strip of grass between the barn and the creek.

The two men never smiled.  Nor, did they appear to be kidding.  I told them, "You should just quit talking."

They looked shocked, but thankfully, they abandoned their particular brand of Farm Aid, and left.  My husband and I used the boards to make walkways.  We moved the tables to either side of the walk.  The legs didn't sink - too much.  He hammered nails in the "wall" and we hung the art.  It looked OK, and he left.

The day was nice and warm day - about 90 degrees.  The humidity was probably 100%, judging by my cards and prints, which felt limp and a little mushy.  I brought several bottles of water and a couple sodas.  I was worried about drinking too much; didn't want to have to leave my booth unattended to .. .go.  Turned out not to be a problem.  It was the right amount of liquid to keep me from baking .... I stewed.  And, amazingly, I sold some art and photos.

I earned EVERY penny.  Been thinking about paved roads - with signs, shopping malls, fast food restaurants and cool dark movie theaters ever since.

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I wrote this a few years ago.  It is basically true.  What is very true - the quotes from the farmer.
I hope some of you will read it and that you'll tell me what you like about it,  if you like anything about it.

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