This Thing Called Courage

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Garlic and Arts Festival; Allen Young's Book Launch

IF YOU LIKE GARLIC, the place to be today (Saturday) and tomorrow was and is the Ninth Annual Garlic and Arts Festival, a kind of garlicky woodstock, in the beautiful town of Orange, Massachusetts, on an upland farm straddling the Orange/New Salem border. My friends Eric and Bryan and I made the trek, starting this morning in the pouring rain. By the time we got there the skies were blue, the sun was bright, and the rich, dense country air was an elixir, sweet with the scent of hay.

There were over 100 vendors at the event, offering everything from cider doughnuts, sculpture, and face-painting (I waited in line for this latter activity three times, but there were too many little kids in front of me) to shiatsu massage, horse-drawn wagon rides, live music, animal demonstrations, artists-- and garlic. Although our stomachs were grumbling all the way out, we held off so as to sample the many edible wares available at the fair. Strolling through the large food court area, our mouths were watering as we made our selections, then moved on to the next booth to make sure we weren't missing out on something better. Finally we met our Waterloo: root vegetable quesedillas, which appeared to be a mash of spinach, goat cheese, rutabaga, beet, turnip, potato, and roasted garlic-- dee-lish! Washed down with home-made ginger ale (the real mccoy) and fresh strawberry shortcake for dessert, topped off with fresh cream from cows that were more or less several feet away. Then we began exploring the many treats to be found in the vendor booths. I picked up some garlic seed, which I can plant in a few weeks and harvest next summer, as well as old-fashioned pickles, made by fermenting (hence, the old fashioned way) without vinegar, in the same way yogurt and sourdough bread are made. Yummy. There was a Cherokee man there selling his own handmade Indian artifacts, and we had a great chat, and then we strolled over tot he stage and listened to the music for a while.

The crowd was wonderfully earthy-crunchy, as one would expect, very happy and friendly and glad to be there. (Which reminds me of one bumper-sticker I saw on one of the cars parked out in the fields-- this was an entertainment in and of itself-- which read 'I'd Rather Be Here,' which I loved.) The setting was ideal, someone's farm field on Chestnut Hill Road, with an old farmhouse and farm, and massive sugar maples, in the background. I imagine in a few weeks when the foliage changes, the scene will be beyond description in its beauty.

After we left, we mosied into New Salem, Massachusetts so I could show the boys 'The Outlook,' a ridge behind the fire station in New Salem which has an absolutely amazing view of the Quabbin Reservoir Watershed. Eric had rented a large format 4 X 4 camera for the weekend, and I had my digital, as well as my old Argus with the viewfinder (which takes 620 film which I don't believe they make anymore, but if you know what you're doing you can make it take 120 film-- I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to that, but fortunately Bryan does.) Some of the pics from the digital are above. As we were driving up the road to the New Salem Town Common, which must be the prettiest town common in the world, a flock of wild turkeys crossed the road in front of us-- 21 all told! It was the largest flock I've ever seen. They went down a garden path, jumping up every now and then on the adjacent wooden horse-fence-stile thing- it was a picture of a lifetime. We stopped the car, but by the time I got the camera ready for the shot, it was too late-- time and tide wait for no man, and to this list we may now add turkeys.

I was also out in this wonderful rural area of our state yesterday as well-- good friend and wonderful writer Allen Young had the book launch party for his newest work, 'Make Hay While the Sun Shines' last night, and I wanted to be sure not to miss it. Dear friend Dermot came with me, and we stopped at another dear friend's house on the way out. This would be Clay. He and his son, three year old Finnegan, showed us around their lovely home, then gave us an awesome supper of homemade bread and fresh tomato soup, the tomatoes having been picked five minutes before from Clay's back garden. Allen's reading was at the fabulous 'Bruce's Browser' bookstore in Athol, where I did a reading myself some months back. Bruce's is owned by local musician Diane Lincoln, and it was great to see her again. A nice crowd came out for Allen's gig. Allen explained that his book is a compendium of many columns/stories he wrote while he was a reporter for the Athol Daily News, from the mid 1970's to the mid 1980's, as well as updates on what's become of the people, places, and things he wrote about back then. The book is delightful and I stayed up way too late last night reading it once I got home. Check it out!

The pics above are from the fair, and one of the Quabbin Outlook. (Just a reminder-- you can click on any of the pics for a bigger version.) Oh, and the adorable little girl is kissing her pet chicken-- not trying to bite its neck off.


Anonymous Allen Young said...

It's been such a pleasure to make a new friend, and the author of "This Thing Called Courage" is one. I have much joy from his support for my work as a writer as well as my life here in rural north central Massachusetts. And getting to know his friend Dermot is another plus.

11:21 AM  

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