We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Head, Heart, Hands and Health

Written By: Charles - Aug• 02•20

Lughnasa and the Lughnasa Moon

Sunday gratefuls: The framers. Jon’s print. Ode’s. Ruth’s painting. Kate’s heirloom needlepoint: Love is Enough. All beautiful. Art by friend and family. Pho. Singapore noodles. That woman and her kid who needed money. Ruby and her air conditioning. Driving through Evergreen with the window down and the AC on. Allergies. Sympathy for my father. Blue skies, cool nights. No wildfire so far. Lughnasa

Lughnasa in the mountains. Lughnasa is a first fruits harvest festival. In ancient Celtic life it would have meant, like all the major holidays do, a market week. Games, trading, drinking and feasting, contests. State fairs and county fairs are Lughnasa influenced. They tend to fall between August 1st, Lughnasa and the autumnal equinox, or Mabon.

The Madison County 4-H Fair, which was held in Alexandria, my hometown, rather than the county seat of Anderson, Indiana, is a good example. I don’t recall, or maybe just don’t know, the reason Alexandria’s Beulah Park got the honor, but it was great for us as kids.

A carny setup strings of lights, cotton candy machines and hot dog stands, rides, and games. We would go early, watch them setup. Mom holding me on her shoulder, a blue blanket wrapped around me, a string of lights above my head is my first memory. A faint chill shuddered through me. I’ve always believed that was the first sign of my polio.

Local men erected tents with thick stakes and strong rope. Vendors of all sorts came to the fair. My favorite one was the dairy that passed out dixie cups of chilled buttermilk. I’d sprinkle mine with salt and pepper, going back as often as they’d allow it.

Car dealers brought out new model cars. I saw my first 1957 Chevy at the Madison County Fair. Farm equipment dealers brought tractors, hay balers, wagons. Those big yellow and green John Deeres. The red Massey-Fergusons. Tires taller than all of us kids with deep tread.

There were entertainers: magicians, singers, choirs, local celebrities. A queen contest. But the most important part of the fair, the Madison County 4-H fair, were the 4-H exhibits and shows. Some of you city folks may not know about 4-H: Head, Heart, Hands and Health.

4‑H Pledge

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

This was small town America, rural America at its best. That pledge works. Can you imagine djt taking the pledge, for example?

4-H, the county extension office, and the cooperative extension offices from public land grant universities made room for kids with sheep, pigs, cows, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, horses. The kids came with their animals, often slept in their stalls during the fair. They made room for kids who cooked, baked, painted, did seed art, crafts like crocheting. County extension offices sponsored contests for wood-working, pie baking, honey making, quilting. County 4-H’ers could win blue ribbons, go on to the State Fair in Indianapolis.

Walking through the stalls with Holsteins, Guernseys, Jerseys, Angus, Hereford, and smelling farm smells, the ordure mixed with hay and urine. Seeing the biggest Boar lounging in his pen, his testicles usually visible and the scene of much laughing and pointing. The fancy Pigeons and high-strung Banty roosters. Rabbits with their long ears and velvety fur.

The buildings held jars of pickles, honey, jam. There were live Bees, honeycomb, and jars of amber honey ready to be judged. Decorated cakes. Plates of cookies. Bird houses and hobby horses, hand made. Quilts. And much more.

We knew where food comes from. Our friends and family grew it in their fields, raised it in their barns and pens. This was, and is, a celebration of Mother Earth.

The 2020 Madison County 4-H Fair was canceled due to the pandemic. But it will be back, spreading the country gospel of head, hearts, hands, and health. What we need right now.

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