The Saturday before the fair is always the big work bee at the fairgrounds. The sheep folks ready the sheep barns, the horse folks horse barns, and this year the beef folks were helping to put up new, large cattle barn. Of course, it had to be 35 degrees Celsius yesterday while they were putting the new metal roofing on. Other jobs to do included laying sod around the new grandstand, followed by copious watering; giving bleachers a new lick of white paint; setting out, and lining, all of the trash barrels and pop can/bottle recycling barrels; hauling the small square straw bales and bags of cedar shavings into Old MacDonald's barn, home of the petting zoo; stocking all of the bathrooms with adequate supplies of toilet paper and pink liquid soap. The kids stayed busy with the last two jobs, riding around from job to job, and enjoying the breeze, in the back of a pickup truck. The Ag Society takes good care of volunteers, most of whom are friends and neighbors (and, in small-town Canada, family more often than not), providing a big lunch at noon as well as a fellow who spent all day driving from site to site in a truck loaded with big Rubbermaid tubs containing ice and a variety of cold drinks.
By about three o'clock, I figured it was time to get the kids inside and out of the sun, and also check on our various babies at home to make sure everyone was cool enough and well-watered. At home, we also looked in on Tom, who has rarely missed a work bee but yesterday stayed home to work on a special project requested by the Ag Society, a shadow box/display case for memorabilia from the past 99 years of the fair, to help celebrate this year's centennial. It's about 6' by 6', and in the shape of a barn; the barn "door" and "hay loft" function as display shelves. Pretty nifty.
At six o'clock, we headed back to town for dinner with our friends who are moving in a couple of weeks. After dinner we headed outside to sit on the front step and eat Popsicles while the kids biked around the empty streets; our friends live, for the next little while at least, in one of the oldest parts of town, with tall shade trees along the sidewalks, and it was so green and quiet and peaceful and almost cool. There's something nice about a place, whether it's Manhattan or this little town, when just about everyone else has cleared out, to the cabin or cottage or beach or lake, leaving the rest for the rest of us.
Today is a tidying, catching up day. We had a much appreciated thundershower this morning, not nearly enough to save the crops but enough to be refreshing and wash away the dust on the trucks, the roads. I'm doing some laundry, the kids are helping Tom finish up the display case, and later I'll get rid of the only dud duck egg and wash out the incubator, and spend some more time in the garden, where the red poppies have now burst into bloom, taller than the peony they were seeded around. My new hollyhocks are just about ready to burst their buttons, too, and will be a dark, rosy pink. I can see I need some more yellows in the garden -- something to remember for next year -- because for the most part there are blues, purples, pinks, and whites. The only yellows have come from the still smallish Stella d'Oro daylily and the three lupines, and it doesn't seem to be quite enough; maybe some yellow California poppies next spring.