Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Alaska State Fair, Saturday afternoon


crowds running to cars
Ferris wheel turning beyond
gold wheat bent by rain

            The Ferris wheel is halfway to the top when the rain starts. I’m strapped into one of the chairs by myself, dangling, swinging, sulking as the wheel halts, listening to my stomach growl. I was too busy arguing with Dad about something dumb to eat lunch. Down below the carnies are letting people out, but we are just getting started. We’ll be here a long time. I’ll shrivel and float away from starvation probably.

            My hair is dripping down into my eyes, and I’m trying to keep my phone dry beneath my blue jacket. Some girls were screaming, but they must have worn out. The tinny organ carnival music rises up against the rain, up from the bright lights of the corndog vendors and ice cream stands. On the paths, people run to the exhibit halls and to their cars to get dry. Wimps. I am loving the rain. Not, but I can pretend I’m tough until the smell of fried dough drifts up all around me.
            The chair lingers at the top and I look out at our wheat fields on the other side of the road. The ripe golden heads bend beneath the wind’s strokes, beneath its voice, swaying in the lashings of rain. I watch them bowing in the afternoon gloom, wondering if we can finish the harvest. Dad sold most of it to a distillery and it would be cool to have some of the vodka.
            Dozens of quilts hang in the exhibit halls below. My mom’s is there, my aunt’s, Jannie who cuts my hair. Everyone around here quilts. They like the ones with a thousand little pieces that fit together like puzzles, like lives on a farm never fit together. I like the quilts with stories in them, the ones with the Knik River and Pioneer Peak, with the ravens and auroras. People are sentimental about their quilt patterns. Right now I’m thinking about the one with appliques of salmon on it that won the big purple Grand Champion ribbon.

            I can see the barn where the farmers and 4-H kids take their giant pumpkins and cabbages to be admired. My pet zucchini grew fat this year – twenty-five pounds, but all crookedy. No reason to even enter it. The summer was too hot for zukes, but perfect for the wheat. If it doesn’t go all soft, I’ll carve a vampire zucchini for Halloween.
            The rain lessens as the wheel lurches to the bottom. The Saturday afternoon crowd drifts back into the Midway, and the carnies beg them to toss the ball, throw the dart, bet on the racing rats (they’re really gerbils). The sun breaks through the clouds. Dad will be happy when he can run the combine through the wheat, happy when it’s already vodka, happy when he can worry about what kind to plant next year. Then he’ll forget about me.

            I head straight for the fried butter stand, already tasting that crispy brown batter, and feeling the hot butter running down my chin. Then I’ll head over to the big barn to watch the 4-H turkeys being auctioned off.     

too hot for huge squash
and no prize wheat at this Fair           
but fine crop of quilts

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