Yesterday I went to the Howard County Fair. I had never been before. Why?
Heat. I just plain don't do well in heat and humidity, and that's pretty much the story of Howard County summers. Period.
Well, I stepped out of my air conditioning yesterday for a special event. You may recall that I owed this guy a parade. And as I walked along the midway as a first-time visitor, plenty of thoughts swirled through my head.
I'm quite vocal in my support of multi-sensory education. Going to the fair is definitely that. While marching (movement) I took in the sights of the midway (visual) as my mouth watered at the many carnival foods on offer (taste). I heard the sounds of carnival rides, singing, the parade announcer, people cheering (auditory) and perceived both cooking aromas and animal smells (olfactory). Oh--and I was shaking pom-poms (tactile). Wow. It was a lot to take in.
I'm pretty much a product of the suburbs, and although I have lived in cities, I have absolutely no rural life experiences other than visits like these. Growing up with asthma and a multitude of plant and animal allergies, I probably would be of no earthly use. A generation or so ago, I might not have survived to adulthood on a farm. Our county fair represents a way of life that I can only visit as a tourist.
Local blogger AnnieRie writes about the community experience of the fair on her blog, AnnieRieUnplugged--Life in the Slow Lane. She has made a connection to people whose lives are shaped by weather, crops, animals, insects, market prices and unending physical labor. While I connect with Columbians and Howard Countians over coffee or cocktails, she is showing up to support 4-H-ers as they show their animals.
I wonder how much my separation from farming and animal husbandry makes it difficult for me to understand differing points of view that are shaped by this way of life. My take-away from all this is that there is much I don't know. It seems that there are so many uncrossable chasms in our country today. I wonder how many come from our separation from eachother, our inability to walk a mile in another's shoes.
As for the parade itself, it was awesome. Yes it was hot, but short. Not nearly a mile by any stretch. Afterwards I got an enormous slushy, sat in the shade, and began the mental transition back to suburbia. But I brought a few thoughts back home to keep me going until next year (if it's not too hot).
Can walking, say, a hundred yards in someone else's shoes be the start of something good? I hope so.