Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sin City Band

The amazing run of good weather that the Anson B. Nixon outdoor concert series enjoyed finally ended on July 23, when the Sin City Band had to end their set after about a half-hour, with the wind whipping up and lightning flashing off to the west. It was a good call on the part of the tech guys: no sooner did my friends and I pack up our chairs and get to our vehicles than the rain came pouring down. The band did its popular "Chester County song" first and, in an unsuccessful attempt to ward off the impending storm, "Yellow Sun" and "You Are My Sunshine."
The brown-bag suppers provided by the Country Butcher were excellent: chicken salad on a roll, potato salad, pasta salad with roasted vegetables and a cookie. For only eight dollars! Fortunately we ate ours before the storm.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

No slackers

Normally attendance at exercise classes plummets during the summer, but not so in one class I take at the Jennersville Y. There were so many people in class on July 22 that the instructor had to relinquish her usual "spot" to a latecomer, and we had to carefully synchronize our moves with those of the person next to us to avoid contact. One participant said she'd bring along a hay bale or a mounting block to the next class for the instructor to stand on so she could see everyone.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cecil County Fair

I can now say that I have eaten a fried Oreo. I actually never knew there was such a thing until Sunday, when we visited the Cecil County Fair in Fair Hill, Maryland, but once I saw that sign on the food trailer, I simply had to have one.
It looked and tasted like a donut with the soggy remains of an Oreo inside. It was a far cry from my usual salad-heavy food choices, but somehow anything in the healthy eating pyramid just wouldn't strike the right note at a country fair in rural Maryland. The accompanying lemonade was very good.
We had an utter blast at the fair. We walked through the livestock barns and marveled at the beautifully groomed cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, and ducks. We wandered through the floral, vegetable, hay and egg competitions (much like at the Unionville Community Fair), the gleaming farm equipment displays (very large and very expensive), and the midway. We watched two guys carving wooden sculptures with chainsaws.
The highlight (other than the animals and food, of course) was watching the Truck Pull, in which a giant weighted sled is hooked up to a specially fortified diesel pickup truck. The truck has to drag this thing down a dirt field, wheels spinning, engine straining and black smoke belching from the exhaust pipes. Some of the competitors were successful and made it all the way down to the far end of the stadium, but one poor guy dropped a drive shaft.
The fair runs through Saturday, July 26. There's a Demolition Derby at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 24, and Friday, July 25, and at 2 and 8 p.m. on Saturday. There are rumblings that we will be returning for one of them.
(By the way, a woman at the gym corrected me, saying that "Cecil" is pronounced with a short "e." I've never heard that before, but I've gotten confirmation that "Sessil" is indeed how some old-timers say it.)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Meetinghouse tour

A huge thank you to everyone involved in organizing this past weekend's tour of Quaker meetinghouses in the Western Quarter. For a history-minded person like me with an interest in Quakerism, it was fascinating.
On Saturday we visited "New" West Grove, Pennsgrove, and Homeville meetings and then crossed the Mason-Dixon Line to visit Colora meeting. On Sunday we went to London Britain meeting. Each meetinghouse had its own Friendly charm. At West Grove, upside-down glass telephone-pole insulators held candles and the beams in the cellar still had bark on them. I thought Pennsgrove had an especially calm, gathered air about it. The hosts at Homeville had on display old newspaper articles about the meeting; I loved reading about the heated disputes over the spelling of "Octoraro." London Britain had pillows on the benches.

We got a little lost getting to Colora, and driving through the two gateposts was like arriving at an enchanting cottage in a forest clearing. The surprisingly comfortable wooden benches were made from rafts on the Susquehanna, the hostess told us (I noticed that the worshippers who sat on facing benches got footrests, a surprising touch). The small Colora burial ground is on a steep slope leading down to a creek and is the final resting place for a daughter of Betsy Ross and a great many members of the Balderston family (we passed Balderston Orchards en route to the meetinghouse).

Mr. Patton

Charles F. Patton, a longtime teacher and administrator in whose honor Unionville's middle school is named, died on Saturday, and former students, colleagues and friends have been sharing fond memories of him and how he shaped their lives (and their bridge games). I saw the news on Saturday evening on Facebook while eating ice cream at Landhope and said to my companion, "Oh, Mr. Patton died!" The people at the next table, complete strangers, overheard and said, "Yeah, I heard that!" They didn't need to ask who Mr. Patton was, or which Mr. Patton; in Unionville, there was only one. My sympathy goes out to his family.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Nature notes

This has been the summer of the hostas, the house wrens and the hummingbirds.
Maybe I'm just more aware of the hostas because I've planted so many of them this year, but those spikes of purple flowers, rising high above green or green-and-white leaves, seem to be everywhere this summer, after our cold, wet spring. What a versatile, hardy and attractive plant.
And a house wren has made a nest of twigs in a bird box in a white pine in my back yard. It has raised at least two broods, which it feeds constantly, chirping its cheerful, trilling song. I just took the portable steps out back to see if I could get a photo of the chicks. The momma wren was not at all happy: she rammed my head, twice, and hard. I apologized, replaced the box and retreated.
My hummingbirds were late to arrive but have been regulars at the feeder, often draining the whole cup-and-a-half. It's fun to watch the colorful, frenetic, bold little creatures perch on the feeder and on nearby white-pine branches.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shutdown weeks

The annual shutdown weeks at our local YMCAs will be Aug. 18 through 24 for the Jennersville and the Airport Road Ys, and Aug. 25 to 31 for the Kennett Y. Seems earlier than usual this year.