Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Friends will be here this weekend for the State Fair; they're traveling tandem with another Motor Home couple, visiting as many Fairs as they can reach this Summer. They've got their itinerary mapped out---here this week, another in Iowa, in Kansas, and so on. What a lovely way to travel, and what a fun thing to do, like a Summer-long sleepover in a new fun place every week.

We always went for one day to the Mid-South Fair in Memphis, and just speaking of it conjures all the hot scents of frying sugary breads and peppers and the sheer CROWD of it; the sounds of the yelling barkers and excited children and the music of the rides all competing in a tinkly cacophony of enthusiastic tunes.
I've always thought that there's a big Music Lab somewhere, in which folks sit and listen, doing mixes of the Greatest Hits from the Circus, Disneyland, and Good Humor, magically guaranteed to strike a longing chord in the hearts of small Fair-Goers, and a wallet-opening one in those of their parents.

And sometime during the year, we went to the Zoo. We'd take a picnic and eat in one of the shady areas, then stroll the paths and wander in and out of the exhibits.

Chris and I took the younger four children to the Zoo soon after we met, and it was a lovely day. I had always carried a big old French marketing net bag with loaves of bread to feed the animals (back in the day when you COULD). We stood and frisbeed slices to the spectacled bears, and one lady bear, beaten to the slice she had her eye on, began to wail and shout and make all manner of accusations against her fellow cave-mates. And me.

“HEEE got it and EYEEE should have had it!!” “SHEEE threw it to HIMMM and didn’t give MEEEEE any!!!”

She bayed and yowled, looking right at ME---the instigator of the whole thing, and I should just DO something about it. People began to stare, and to gather, as her diatribe went on, decibels and frustration increasing by leaps and bellows.

She all but POINTED at me, raising holy heck, as we frantically whizzed slice after slice in her direction; she ignored the bread and the scamperings of her kin---she was MAD and everybody was going to know about it. And I was the culprit.

We ran out of bread and escaped with our very lives, leaving behind a snickering, laughing crowd and a VERY irate bear. Never went back. Scared to.

The quiet note which calmed the day and soothed the ruffles was later in the afternoon, as we strolled with a few picnic leftovers in the big bag. We wandered amongst the birds, most of them unashamed little beggars---pigeons and others which were free to fly away, but knew a good location, and had this one staked out. They clamored at our feet, accustomed to the rich lode of handouts.

Several of the larger exotic ones held back, secure in their beautiful rarity, and perhaps a bit haughty because of it. One of the most delightful experiences of my life was sitting quietly on the grass, holding grape after grape on my outstretched palm, as a peacock in full regalia danced his courting dance for a moment, then stood pressed companionably against my side and swallowed them one by one in the Summer sunlight.


Jon said...

Your writiing is so fine as to be photograhic. In muy mind's eye I can see the peacock eating grapes and the picutre is beautiful. Good post as usual!

Southern Lady said...

Oh, Rachel, I can just imagine how thrilling it was for you to sit there feeding grapes to a peacock! What a wonderful "once in a lifetime" experience.

And speaking of "wonderful," isn't it nice to have Jon back!

racheld said...

OH, yesssss!!

Pleased and happy and so glad. No words.

Kim Shook said...

You stirred a memory - we used to take bags of marshmallows to the zoo. The bears would catch them in mid-air and chew them for a long time before swallowing and looking for more. If there were a clump of marshmallows, they'd hold them in their paws and lick them. I love the zoo!

Keetha said...

We took my son to the zoo when he was about four. He was so not interested.

Now the State Fair in Jackson, on the other hand...that's a different story!

Tonja said...

I can see those peacocks, I surely can. And, that mad as all heck bear, too! How wise of you to know all about the delacacies that appeal to the peacock!