The travel brochures are right, you know. While other places may rival New England at other times of the year (though it has its charms all year round), there is no better place in the world to be during the months of September and October than this. I say this not having been to every single place in the world in September and October, but still having been enough places to make a confidently educated guess.
Yesterday, my Paul and I began our round of fairs. I admit, the local country fair isn’t solely a New England phenomenon–nor is it even proprietary to the United States of America. (I know, right?!) But I can’t really speak with authority about similar goings on in other countries. For a general overview of the such events in the US, read Charlotte’s Web, or go see the musical State Fair, neither of which stories take place at a New England fair. But New England has the backdrop of rolling hills and changing foliage and quaint oldest-in-America-type towns, and the fairs themselves bring out all varieties of New Englander from red neck to hippie, and make you wonder if, in the end, the two groups might be closer to each other than you might at first think.
The fair we went to yesterday was the Brimfield Fair in Massachusetts, a famous and enormous antiques fair that happens a couple of times a year and which somehow, until yesterday, I had never visited. It was hot and it would have been nice if I had thought to take my new floppy straw hat out of my car before I left the car at the mechanics’, not only because it would have kept some of the sun off, but also because it would have looked fantastic with my long gauzy hippie skirt and t-shirt I was wearing. We walked our feet off and each found something affordable we had been in the market for, and I had a falafel for lunch, a feat is difficult for me to achieve in Our Fair City. Then we walked back to the truck. See? Hippie/red neck. It works.
Today we took Alicia to a smaller town fair nearby. There were tractor pulls and oxen pulls and lots and lots of farm animals. Including a capybara–which none of us were aware was a farm animal until today. Reputedly, they’re delicious.
I felt sort of conflicted some of the time, because there really is still a part of me that’s city-dwelling and multiculturally-oriented, in spite of the fact that I haven’t had the chance to tap into much of that in the last seven years or so, and this thing was sort of an idealised pastoral white-American dream . . . but the thing is, in spite of historic atrocities committed by members of the people group into which I was born–well, it doesn’t mean everything about the culture is evil, some of it is actually good, and man do I like fried dough.
The rest of the autumn will doubtless involve more fairs, and apple cider (non-alcoholic and also maybe the hard variety) and home-made doughnuts, crisp air, vibrantly coloured leaves, and friends and family. Once when I was in London, one of my friends said, delightedly, “You can tell it’s autumn! The leaves are turning brown!” and it was all I could do not to laugh, although the cosy thing definitely applies in London, too. Everybody around here says autumn is their favourite time of year, and it’s mine, too. But that is obviously because there is no better place to be in the world in September and October.