bunt sign

Sunday, July 29, 2001

Until last year, I lived a couple of blocks from the fairgrounds, and for two weeks every summer, it was like living in the middle of a circus. When the Sonoma County Fair is on, that side of town is a magnet for all types of interesting people. Kids come for the carnival and gamblers come for the horse racing. Everyone in the county has an unspoken obligation to make it to the fair at least once each summer. Today was my turn for this year.

Now that I'm living out in the country, it means driving into town and paying for parking. So that Mom wouldn't have to walk too far, we went early this morning and paid a little extra for close-in parking. As it turned out we didn't go quite early enough to avoid parking at the fringes of the close-in lot, so we ended up walking almost as far as if we'd parked in the regular lot. By the time we found a space, I was so happy to be out of the car that I forgot my camera in the trunk.

The Hall of Flowers is the most spectacular flower show in Northern California, and it's sort of the signature event of this fair. This year's theme is "Gold Fever," and the floral displays included gold mining paraphernalia, blacksmith tools, and other artifacts of the gold rush era in California. You can always count on a couple of spectacular waterfalls, and this year they took the form of an overhead sluice box.

It was well designed, as always, but this year I had more interest in the flowers and plants themselves than I've ever had before. I tried to identify some of the plants that grow in my own garden, and some that I might like to have there some day. With Mom's help, I picked up pamphlets on such topics as "Gardening for Wildlife" and "Living With Spiders."

After the flower show, we walked through the main exhibit building. That's where the action is, and it almost got to be too much for me. I had a minor panic attack when I felt bodies rushing toward me from all directions and found myself shaking and short of breath. It was a short-lived situation, though. All I had to do was find a way out into the open air.

And I bought something! I never buy anything from the hawkers on the midway, but I couldn't resist the lightweight polyurethane hose that coils up by itself. Easy storage, good water pressure, and flexibility. I bought two of them.

We bought soft tacos from one of the concession stands and then walked halfway across the grounds looking for a shady place to eat them. They were greasy and messy, so it's a good thing I'm invisible. I'd hate to think anyone could actually see me eat with stuff dripping down my chin. The tortillas were so soggy that I ate most of the filling with my fingers. But that's what you're supposed to do at the fair — eat with your fingers and not care what drips.

We also looked at the rabbits. We weren't looking for rabbits, but that's what was in the building where the exotic chickens are usually housed. Since neither of us is particularly interested in rabbits (sorry), we moved on quickly to the crafts buildings. Some friends won ribbons for their paintings, and we made a point of finding them. I always like to look at the junior exhibits, but now that my nephews are grown I don't know any of the kids in town any more.

In all, we spent about three hours there. That was enough time to see everything I had any interest in. People watching is the best part of the fair, and we did some of that, too. We skipped the carnival and the livestock pavilions, and we left before any of the stage shows started. I think I've had my fair experience for this year.

white hollyhock

Just off my back porch, a formerly dead hollyhock grows to a height of about seven feet.

After I got home this afternoon, and after my usual midday nap, I got out in the garden for a while. I made a list yesterday of things I wanted to get done this weekend, and a little intense dandelion demolition was one of the items. I got out the dandelion weeder I bought just before I left on vacation and figured out how to use it. It's really a marvelous tool, and if it hadn't been so hot this afternoon I might have spent more than half an hour using it. Then I watered with my new hose and called it a day.

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