Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Day At The Fair, Revisited

It's time for fairs. I love all those early-autumn staples, filled with hay, fried dough, and tractor pulls. There are young couples in love, wild-eyed mothers pushing double strollers, and groups of old women waddling from stall to stall in bedazzling shirts. It is always hot or cold, rainy or bone dry. It's harvest time in New England.

Last year around now, I was in the unglamorous "fourth trimester" of my pregnancy. I know now that I should've kept that baby firmly entrenched in my womb as long as humanly possible, but, at the time, medical science and some Pitocin convinced me otherwise. The Boss was born at almost 42 weeks gestation, but we still weren't ready. The circadian rhythms of my fast paced life were hopelessly out of sync with her more sedate scheduling. She would've been just as happy sucking amniotic fluid from inside a heat-regulated placenta for the next three months, at least.

It was toward the end of that amorphous phase that The Partner and I ditched The Boss for a day at the Big E (or the Eastern States Exposition, otherwise known as the ninth largest fair in the USA). Despite some grumblings and the occasional “So, why do you want to go to this thing, again?,” The Partner took the day off from his other job and we made arrangements for my mother to watch the nine week old Boss. We were off.

In one of the agriculture buildings, we saw a stay-at-home-pig with approximately 8 out of 10 udders swollen with milk, her pile of piglets basking in the fluorescence. She was beyond ugly, but the piglets were cute. It is easy to become so enchanted with the wiggly lethargy of a baby piggy that you don’t think about the fact that it will soon grow to resemble Ted Kennedy and grunt similarly, too.

I looked down at my own engorged mammaries and thought that I would never feel so connected to that pink, hairy and maternal swine as I did just then. It wasn’t appealing when I thought of it in those terms, so instead I pictured my own smiling baby, soft and cooing, separate from my breasts and years away from any possible runs for senate as a bulbous democrat from Massachusetts.

It was the chicks, however, that won best of show in the cute department. Row upon row of brown eggs incubated atop a wire mesh display case. If you watched carefully, you could see fine lines develop on the shells as hidden chicks pecked for their lives. The audience of fair-goers, peering in through the glass, were fixated on one particular egg as the crack grew and a few straggly hairs poked out and receded, poked out and receded. This went on for five minutes, then ten, till the girl next to me stated she had been caught up in this chick’s fight for over a half hour. A woman behind us clucked knowingly and said that most of these little ones die of exhaustion if they are not able to extricate themselves from the albumen within 20 minutes.

In the time that this chick worked spasmodically to break through one final piece of eggshell, an entirely different egg developed a crack, was pushed open, and produced a newborn chicken, all bedraggled and weak-legged. We were happy for this new little guy, but sad for the other fighter in whose birth we were still caught up.

While I didn’t know if the woman’s ominous foretelling of the twenty-minute window was accurate, it was too depressing to find out. The Partner and I traded the stinky dome of the agricultural building for the open spread of gray September fairgrounds. I don't remember much else about that day, though. In my mind, it's just the piglets and the chicks and the overcast skies heralding all that new life.


Jen said...

I've never heard that about baby chicks... of course I also didn't grow up on a farm so why the heck would I know! That is something Eric would know! I'll have to ask him, he knows a ton of useless crap like that! :-) I can't wait for the durham fair...

toyfoto said...

This is so beautiful. Who knew something so delightful could come with the stench of silage and manure.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Okay, I'm still laughing over the Teddy Kennedy reference. I'll never eat a pork chop again.

I'm really looking forward to fair season. I have no idea why. I guess I have a need to bring my newly walking daughter into a fair's petting zoo to be mauled by baby goats for bits of dried corn. Good times.

btw, let's all agree that the baby chick survived, okay? I need to believe that.

Mom101 said...

She'd better be a stay at home pig, what with all those swollen mamaries. Could you imagine - EIGHT? I'd hide out at home too.

Beautifully told, as always.

Jenifer said...

Everything I encounter lately has to do with birth.....WHEN IS IT MY TURN?!? Goping on 40 weeks gestation this week I am more than ready for a little pitocin myself! I am also a fair lover, however the thought of walking for more than 20 feet right now with hideously swollen "cankles" and severe pelvic pain is not really on the top of my "to do" list.

Pray I don't spend much time in my "fourth trimester", send me some labor dust!!