October 31, 2010
October 16th looked like it would become a perfect fall day. The forecast was for sun with a few clouds and some wind. It was going to get up to the mid-50′s. The leaves were turning nicely and the scene was set for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival
! The third weekend in October is always the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. And even those Frosts who don’t knit turn out for this annual family pilgrimage.
We piled into the car at 8:30 and the cars were streaming into the Dutchess County Fair Grounds when we got to Rhinebeck after 10. It was brisk and a hot beverage was first on Ellie’s list while I purchased my annual t-shirt. Each year much is the same about Rhinebeck. The vendors have the same locations, we follow the same path through the barns and even eat the same foods. That is part of what makes it all so wonderful.
We walk around and see all our favorite vendors. The fellow who makes the fantastically warm and soft sheepskin slippers, Ellen’s 1/2 Pint Farm
, Nanney Kennedy’s Meadowcroft Farm Seacolors
, the woman with the gorgeous and colorful blended yarn from Vermont, Green Mountain Spinnery
and the folks with the huge supply of Socks That Rock Yarn
. Even when I don’t buy, I love seeing the fabulous yarn and crafts these artisans have on offer.
Each year Peter is bound and determined to return home with an angora rabbit. He sees the women spinning fiber right off their bunnies and he goes wild for a soft, furry bunny. This year there were puppies for sale and Ellie was possessed by a desire unfulfilled by even her great love for Dakota. They were really cute and if Jim hadn’t been along and if I didn’t know that Dakota has no desire to share, I might have fallen.
Jim is patient, but bored and heads off to sit quietly in the 4-H booth with a cup of hot cider and his book. The best place for him at this point. We walk up and down the rows looking at the booths and break for lunch early. The chicken pot pie line gets really long and one year they ran out for a while…I enjoyed a roast lamb sandwich.
After lunch we wandered over to watch the dogs in the Frisbee competition and then hit the barns to oggle some sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas. It is fun to watch the sales going on, but visiting the animals in their pens is even more fascinating. Here is a whole agricultural life about which we know little, but the sheep are clearly well cared for and loved. Their owners wait patiently for the judging and tend to the animals while probably wishing the dumb city folk would stay out of their way. It isn’t an easy way to make a living no matter how romantic it looks from the outside.
All too soon critical mass has been reached and the voting is to return to the car and make our way home. I wonder what it would be like to spend an entire day or weekend at the fair? Somehow even after just a few hours, the car feels warm and comfortable and it is tough not to doze off over yarn and needles as we head south in the afternoon’s darkening light.
It was a good day. A day anticipated for many months and enjoyed in the best of company. It will be another year until Sheep and Wool and yet, it will be very much the same as this year. A turning point as summer truly fades into autumn and the world prepares for winter. A good day’s outing in the country and a chance to enjoy the fresh air, animals, some good food, my family and lots of yarn and fibre. It doesn’t get much better than that!
June 2, 2010
Today is June 2nd. Today is Ellie’s 17th birthday. Today is the day every year I celebrate my daughter’s life and think back on the joy and love and friendship she has given me. It is hard to believe that 17 years ago I first laid eyes on that little girl. She has been a truly special person from the moment she was born. And I am lucky that even as she turns 17, she still counts me as both a mother and a friend. I don’t think that many moms are granted that degree of access at such a difficult time of life. (Although when she sees this post, things may change…)
For her birthday this year, Ellie wants to maintain some traditions and make at least one new one. Every year Ellie has a pool party. If you are born in June and have a pool in the backyard, this seems a logical choice. Jim and I live in terror of the evening each year. Hordes of rambunctious teens descend upon us and in turns plunge into the pool screaming with laughter and splashing like small whales, then they head to the pizza table demolishing unreal quanitities of food and soda, they crank up the music and head back to the pool for more bedlam. This goes on until way after dark. Amazingly (fingers crossed), we have had no drownings or injuries and just lots of great fun.
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