Saturday, August 11, 2007

Double Fest

Today U and I went to not one, but two summer festivals on the Northside.

The first was the Savor the Summer Festival at Troy Community Gardens. U and I went two summers ago, but missed the one in 2006.

A co-worker who went to the 2006 fest told me, the following Monday, that she'd seen the sign in the gardens with my picture on it. There are signs all over with color photos of various people -- somehow I got to be one of those people. I'd never seen the sign, although I looked all over for it at the 2005 fest. In fact, I'd come to the conclusion that there wasn't really a sign with my pic. However, since hearing about it in 2006, I've been dying to get back and look for it.

Shortly after we walked onto the grounds, Marge Pitts, one of the driving forces behind the gardens, hailed us and mentioned the sign!. She led us partway there; then U and I hiked through the restored prairie till we found it. There I was, smiling and weeding, wearing a black T-shirt, khaki shorts, and trail boots. My hair was pulled off my face with a burgundy-colored patterned kerchief rolled into a hairband and tied at the back, under my hair.

Amazing! In this five- or six-year-old photograph, I was wearing the exact same shorts and shoes that I had on at that moment! My hair was pulled off my face with a black-and white patterned kerchief rolled into a hairband and tied at the back, under my hair. I had been wearing the identical outfit two days earlier -- black T-shirt and all. Just then, a knot of people happened by. One was a fellow named Steve, who had been weeding alongside me in the gardens that very day. He took a picture of me standing beside me.

OK. Ulysses and I rode on the hayride all around the farm. Bouncy fun!

There was a kiddie pool filled with bubble soap. Ulysses played with the bubble wands for a good twenty minutes, while I talked to people I knew from my old Northside neighborhood association days in the late 1990s, and we listened to music of the Kissers, Irish roots music. Terrific!

I bought Ulysses some ice cream. I gave him two dollar bills and held him up while he handed it to the guy behind the table, who signaled to a woman scooping ice cream in the rear of the booth. I could see on U's face, when the man made no further motion, the thought, "So where's the ice cream?" and then "What did I just give you two dollars for?" The ice cream arrived soon enough, of course.

The ice cream purchase was made with the idea U'd be happy to sit by me and eat it while I watched the Hmong cooking demonstration. Unfortunately, there was no vanilla, and he didn't like the flavor I picked for him, Blue Moon, which tasted kind of like bubble gum. (The only other flavor was raspberry sherbet -- maybe that one would have worked, but who knows.) U only ate a few spoonfuls, and then was done with sitting still. So I got up and followed him. The ice cream went into the trash -- bye bye, two dollars. I wasn't about to pour all that sugar into myself just because of the $$.

On our way out, we passed the chicken coop, and spent maybe twenty minutes hanging out with a nice teenage boy named Jacob who was doing a summer internship at the gardens, and four hens named Pearl, Carmella, Oreo, and Regina Marie. Ulysses communed with the chickens, and marveled at the contents of the nesting box, where the chickens had laid several eggs. "A chicken lays an egg about every 25 hours," Jacob told me. "Every 25 hours? You mean, if she lays one at 3 o'clock today, tomorrow she'll lay one at 4?" We laughed together at this, and he explained that a chicken lays 340 eggs a year, so the 25-hour figure is an average.

After the chickens, we sat and listened to the band playing in the Children's Garden, an old-timey band called Moldy Jam. Wonderful. Ulysses sat rapt all through their first number, and applauded wildly with the rest of the audience. Then he jumped up and left. One-hit wonder, I guessed.

Driving past Warner Park on the way home, I was toying with the idea of going to Shopko and taking advantage of that sale on socks and underwear. An exciting Saturday afternoon, indeed! Then I noticed a sign for the Africa Festival in the park this very afternoon. So we pulled in.

Wonderful music. A band from Senegal was playing while we were there. Women with beautiful, flowing, brightly-colored dresses and matching headscarves were everywhere. Men with bright, flowing tunics and matching trousers, and pillbox shaped hats, were all around, also. I fancied I could tell who was actually from Africa, from the ease with which they wore the bright clothing, and the beautifully erect posture.

A little girl, perhaps Ulysses' age, was dancing in the grass. She wore a long, patterned dress, and she held out the skirt and swished it back and forth as she danced. Her curly, reddish hair was pulled atop her head. Her skin was an unusual, exquisite creamy hue, like nutmeg and strawberries (Later I saw her brown-skinned mother and white father, a fair-skinned redhead).Ulysses, hot and tired, was lying on his back in the grass, close to crying from sheer exhaustion, and frustrated that I wouldn't comply in carrying him away from the festival and off towards the lakeshore where he had seen people fishing on previous park visits. "Look, Ulysses, dancing!" I said. I wanted to watch the little girl, so graceful, moving so beautifully, creatively, to the music. She was glorious.

"No dancing!" he said, petulant.

"Dancing, look!" I persisted.

"No! No dancing!" Then he caught sight of the little girl.

Ulysses did a double take and sat straight up. He stared at her, transfixed, smiling wide. It was like watching a cartoon character in love -- I could practically see a valentine-shaped outline beating from his chest. A few minutes later, we were sitting behind the girl and her family watching the Senegalese band play under a tent. Ulysses, curled in my lap and becoming sleepy from our hours in the sun, didn't notice he was near was the same person who had caught his eye before. But I found myself wanting to approach the mother and say, "Do you mind if we give you a call in about 15 years?"

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