Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Abundance of August

August has always gotten a bad rap - the dog days, the hottest month of summer. Just myths. Since it's my birthday month, I have always been aware of what August is really like. It's cool nights and blue sky days. It's when the gardens give up the best foods of the year: corn, tomatoes, green beans, and the orchards are laden with that most beautiful of all fruit, the pink, yellow, light orange, juicy peach. For those who care for squash and zucchini, there's more than a person could possibly eat in a lifetime. The farmer's markets which have been rather sparsely stocked are now a brilliant mosaic of all this produce from local farms and gardens. The zinnias are out in all their many colors and country fields are full of goldenrod and purple asters. August is a feast for the eyes and the belly.

Speaking of bellies, the county fairs are starting and they are great places for people-watching. Our local county fair is a very popular one, since it is small enough that one can see everything without falling down with exhaustion. Back when Polly had her goats, we really got into it ourselves, even entering some of the exhibits. I think Polly even won a ribbon for her apple pie. We loved to watch the goat judging and were very proud of Polly and Finbar, the beautiful, enormous Toggenberg wether, who won a number of huge, vulgar trophies. Polly won the showmanship award on her very first show, much to our surprise, and the disappointment of some veteran goat people who gave us dirty looks as we marveled at the trophy with a golden goat on top.

There are sewing, quilting, baking, vegetable, flower (with tallest sunflower, e.g.), antique and art exhibits. There are the usual rides and corn dog stands. The tractor pull and the demolition derby are usually sold out by the morning of the first day. There will be a fair queen and king selected, some healthy teen agers who are in 4-H. There is always a senior citizens' day when geezers get in free, and will be entertained by a kitchen band playing songs that our great grandparents liked. (It does not seem to occur to whoever plans these things that there will eventually be geezers whose music of choice will run to the Stones, or even worse, Britney Spears. There will be doddering old ladies with names like Madison or Miley, with tattoos and nose rings.) There are hogs, sheep, goats, rabbits and fancy chickens with topknots. Folks from the big city (i.e., Cleveland) come to show their kiddos where McNuggets come from. There are also semi-sleazy hawkers of vinyl siding, replacement windows, hot tubs, vitamin supplements, garden tools like the ones you might see on late-night TV, magic cleaning liquids, and other goods that will improve your health and household.

This fair has been going on for 150 years and one of the early founders was the man who developed the Hubbard squash, right here in Portage County. I have personally never seen a Hubbard squash and try not to eat or even look at squash in general. But folks here in Portage County are mighty proud of Mr. Bela Hubbard, his squash and the Portage County Fair. And the fair is one of the things I like about August. I shall go on Senior Citizens' Day and see how the goats are doing these days.

1 comment:

SallyB said...

Mmmmmmmmmmm! Fresh, juicy local peaches! And corn on the cob and green beans! Summer's bounty! Thanks for the delicious dinner the other evening of fresh veggies, a true delight after three weeks away from home vacationing. A great "welcome home" feast!

And now I crave fresh juicy peaches over vanilla ice cream, one of my fave summer treats. Hope the Kent farmer's market has some this weekend. I love that we have such a thing to support our local farmers and agriculture. The Randolph Fair will be well worth going to if only to revel in such a grand old tradition of summer.