The weather leapt into summer overnight, ignoring spring entirely. With two days until I was due to enter my produce in the local agricultural show it wasn’t the best time for extreme weather.
The day before it was already warm at 6.30 am when I discovered that the best stick of celery had begun to bolt overnight, the biggest red cabbage was looking a bit cooked and the coriander was now three foot tall and flowering and wouldn’t be any good for my display of culinary herbs. Thank goodness I only needed a minimum of six different herbs and had more vegetables to choose from. I bundled the second choices up and it all looked pretty good when I dropped it at the hall, primped, sprayed and hidden under a wet tea towel for the afternoon judging.
The day of the show was a scorcher. By noon all the fresh produce was limp, the milk had turned solid in its bottles and the iced cakes were looking sad. By four o’clock hot, tired show people and volunteers were beginning to pack up. Outside the office a long queue of people, wound across the grass. The happy, rowdy line up on the lawn was the final part of the show process. These people had acquired their show program as soon as it was available, studied the sections they wished to enter, visited the office the week before to register and pay an entry fee for each item they planned to enter, delivered their exhibits the day before and had just picked them up again. The pre planning in some cases had taken a whole year to produce the best blooms, most handsome chicken or best dressed pet. The red and blue cards they clutched as they waited showed that they were the successful ones, waiting in line to collect their winnings.
The people around me were a perfect microcosm of the day: teenagers from the photography class, retirees and their art works, young girls in jodhpurs, grannies with their preserves and men bantering about their veggies. Friends of many years, neighbours and complete strangers all waited patiently, dissecting the day and comparing prizes and how to spend them and congratulating each other in happy camaraderie.
As the line moved slowly in the hot afternoon sunshine I felt that to be with these people, in this community, was the real reward for our labour. And yes, I did win a couple of prizes – the cash will be used to buy vinegar to pickle all those cabbages!
Enjoy the weather,