Sunday, November 29, 2009

Corn Cribs and Country Fairs

We spent Thanksgiving with family at Winterberry Farm. When your family has lived in a place for more than 5 decades, things accumulate. Memories are stored in boxes and tucked into attic nooks, and linger in out buildings. Each time we all gather there, my mother brings out more things that she has saved from our younger years, and some memories emerge from storage.

This time it was a box of ribbons won at country fairs. A small card on the back of each ribbon tells the entrant's name, category, and year of the prize. Each ribbon tells its own story. I was 10 when I first showed at these fairs --in Middlefield, Littleville, Greenfield, Westfield, Cummington, and Northhampton. Just the town names evoke memories of filling the truck with animals and vegetables and plants and driving up into the hill towns of western Massachusetts on fair day.

My ribbons tell of showing red satin rabbits and a Flemish giant, wildflower arrangements, forest weeds, miniature arrangements, leaves and leaf prints, garden pests, tomatoes and peppers, native wood, and insects. This was a family affair. We all showed one thing or another at the fairs. I was the youngest of four, and after four years of showing we all grew out of 4-H. Other interests took hold -- high school, sports, activities beyond the woods and fields around home.

More memories seeped out as I walked about the yard on this overcast Thanksgiving holiday. The old corn cribs remain from the fair days, when we filled them each summer with shucked cobs of field corn. Food for the farm animals and the squirrels that we could never quite keep out.

The old corn crib,
empty of corn, still full of memories

Sifting through the pile of ribbons brings memories of fair days. The taste of old fashioned cider donuts dipped in cinnamon, the sweet smell of fresh hay in the animals barns, the sounds of carnival games and rides. The corn crib, growing a trendy "green roof," stands in memory of carefree days. A nice interlude from the stresses and strains of modern day life.

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