Nancy Galland

A rainy day at the Common Ground Country Fair

Here’s a memory from Nancy Galland:

“1994, Windsor, Maine: Our last farmers’ market at the Common Ground Fair was drowned in three straight days of rain. Saturday was a wash-out. Torrents. Deluge. Ten inches of rain. Lakes formed in front of the booths and vendors were forced to abandon their shelters as the water rose. Displays fell apart; blue tarps draped over everything; the whole place looked closed down. Farmers, craftsmen and beekeepers pulled on reserve spirits, joking and laughing, trading goods with each other. The roar of rain on our tent drowned out all conversation. In the end, we made more than we dared hope, but not enough to pay the property taxes for Fiddler’s Green Farm in Belfast. 

In the maw of memory, into which many things vanish, one iconic image of the spirit of the Common Ground Fair remains with me. On the last day, in the last hour, the rain mercifully lifted. The thud of hammers, the slap of board on board and the muffled rumble of motors echoed over the soggy fairgrounds: it was break-down time. Thirty feet across the field,  I could see a young man with a large bleacher on his bent back, loading it onto the top of his van. Gracefully turning facedown, slowly reaching, with no hint of hesitation, he suddenly pushed it onto the top of his van. Now a silhouette in the dim light, he threw a rope over the bleacher and tightened it down. I knew he had made less than he had hoped, and I knew that it wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last time he’d face disappointment. I knew that this man, like all the courageous souls packing up their half-broke dreams that night, had a special faith that things would turn out all right. Just do what you must, do it well and carefully, be true to yourself, and the rest will follow.” 

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