dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Mt. Tam glimpsed on a typical summer morning that’s a potpourri of fog, sun, and wind with hints of heat

The 2012 Marin County Fair is in full swing right now. With the temperatures on the milder side today, courtesy of the morning fog, this would have been an ideal day to go hang out there. I’ve lived in Marin coming on to three decades now and the fair, according to the website, has had its inception back in 1925 in Novato. Plenty history there, of the fair and of my chances to have visited … and yet, I can probably count on one hand how many times I did go.

Let’s see, there must have been a couple of times back in the early 1990s when parental obligation had me trudging after the kids through the heat and crowds, trying every trick in the book I knew back then about how to keep my dislike of crowds at a manageable level so that I won’t deprive my children of what I thought of as a quintessentially American tradition. A couple of times (meaning twice) is probably right, as the rest of the years the kids came to rely on the kindness of strangers – I mean that of the parents of their friends – to partake in rides and food that had them sugared up for the rest of the summer months.

Once the kids were old enough to drive, they went to the fair on their own. But that didn’t mean I was done with the fair. There was the time when one of them returned with a bagful of gold fish, which had us, the dutiful parents, scrambling to go buy an aquarium, which then had us acquiring more fish and more things related to aquariums.

For a time, the fish thrived. OK, maybe for a few weeks, come to think of it. At first the fish swam around vigorously, pausing only to look at my computer screen when I sat near the aquarium with my laptop. The occasional glass of wine at the side of the laptop had my imagination swimming long enough to consider the fish as tiny scaled muses at times. But then, one of the fish just dropped dead. It wasn’t long before all the other fish swam into the after life, as following that first one.

We buried the fish in the backyard – that is, my husband I did. The kids were past fishy things of the scaly kind, being teenagers as they were. I don’t think they even noticed the empty aquarium. A few days after the fish burial, we found a mound of dirt where we buried them. Seems that a raccoon, or maybe even our own cat at the time, had a hunkering for sushi, even if past the expiration date, in the middle of the night.

And that is my fish story, unfair as it may be to have opted to take you, gentle reader, down the garden path when I seemed to have started with a promise of fun at the fair.