Sunday, July 20, 2008
Sweet Cherries from my Sweetheart
I have to admit that when it comes to ‘super-activity’ – it’s feast for famine around here. Though so many of our days are ‘busy’ -- super-busy days like yesterday are fewer – and much longer between …
We got up early to hit a few chores prior to the cantaloupe festival. By 8 am I had finished spraying for weeds around the house, straightened up, and readied the house for a friend who’s coming tonight.
We left for the festival soon thereafter – not sure what to expect. As we drove the 30 miles, we watched the most incredible display of clouds – billowy things that shaped and shifted before our eyes … from pure white to deep grey … portending rain sometime later in the day.
We arrived at the festival, parked and walked a bit to the fairgrounds -- already bustling with vendors and people. We noted the large area set aside for purchasing the celebrated cantaloupes. Ridgeway is filled with history … always a farming region, it has had its boom and bust days, and today is noted for the sweetest cantaloupes in the state. And indeed they are incredible!
The festival itself is small, but interesting and so reflective of the close-knit town. The booths were busy as well with free samples of the fruit, pamphlets for historic walks and driving tours of the area, antique shops, bed and breakfasts and the like, and free maps of the county. Town folks sold tee-shirts and gave away sunscreen (the sun was truly BRUTAL yesterday, and it was over 90F by 9 am!), bags and small backpacks. There were vendors with photographs and paintings, funny and bright yard art objects, cookbooks, bake sale and yard sale types of items, and such as these. But small as this gathering was, what struck us was the absolute JOY and FRIENDLINESS of the folks manning each booth we visited. People at the festival are proud of their farming heritage, their town and their way of life, and they enjoyed sharing it with whoever stopped long enough to chat. It didn’t take long to visit everyone there – and though we might have been hoping for more to see and do – we left feeling really, really good -- as though we had touched a piece of that Americana that had brought us to live in this part of North Carolina in the first place.
We picked up our dozen cantaloupes and headed back to Oxford. We got sidetracked at the Oxford Farmers Market – itself no more than eight or ten vendors – but we chatted with folks we knew and brought home more tomatoes that we’ll dry for winter use.
En route to home, however, we stopped at a house only a mile from ours when we noted a handmade sign ‘Honey for Sale.’ And that stop was a highlight of our day. More tomorrow …