Monday, August 24, 2009

Our County Fair

I like to write and while I've found that this is the best way to express myself clearly and boldly, sometimes others have said it best. Fair season is almost over and once again we are overcome with what our youth have the capability to do: "The state fair, at heart, is an agricultural expo, and farming isn't about getting rich, and farmers discuss annual income less than they practice nude meditation on beaches. Farming is about work and about there being a Right Way and a Wrong Way to do it.
You sit in the bleachers by the show ring and see this by the way the young men and women lead their immaculate cows clockwise around the grumpy, baggy-pants judge in the center.
They walk at the cow's left shoulder, hand on the halter, and keep the animal's head up, always presenting a clear profile to the judge's gaze, and when he motions them to get in line, the exhibitors stand facing their cows and keep them squared away.
You and I may have no relatives left in farming and our memory of the farm, if we have any, may be faint, but the livestock judging is meaningful to us -- husbandry is what we do,
even if we call it education or health care or management. Sport is a seductive metaphor (life as a game in which we gain victory through hard work, discipline, and visualizing success),
but the older metaphor of farming (life as hard labor that is subject to weather and quirks of blind fate and may return no reward whatsoever and don't be surprised) is still in our blood, especially those of us raised on holy scripture.
The young men and women leading cows around the show ring are relatives of Abraham and Job and the faithful father of the prodigal son. They subscribe to the Love Thy Neighbor doctrine.
They know about late-summer hailstorms.
You could learn something from these people."

From National Geographic article "Top Ten State Fair Joys" by Garrison Keillor, July 2009, Vol. 216, No.1 p. 66 (Yes, I know this isn't correct citation format, but academia is a bit removed from my life right now. Relax, English majors. Relax.)

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