I just got a rare wave of homesickness for America.
I was reading a fantasy novel, and in it there was a Harvest Festival going on. The writer’s description got me thinking about American festivals and fairs, and I realised this is a bit of America that I miss. They just don’t do that sort of thing here. Sure, there used to be market days in my small Irish town; but those are long gone, and nothing has been done to replace them.
What got me thinking was a passage about fancy candles, and how odd that seemed to the protagonist. He thought it was a waste to burn something so pretty. I immediately thought of those crazy carved candles and how I felt the same – how can you ever burn them?!? If you’ve never seen one, this is what I’m talking about:
In any case, I remember booths at our annual seafood festival selling these, and how beautiful I thought they were. I also remember: hand carved wooden toys, booths of ceramics, dried flower wreaths and arrangements, and tons of other random whatnot that people had spent ages making to sell.
And the food! Things you never found any other time: funnel cakes dusted in powdered sugar, those delicious but potentially tooth-shattering candy coated almonds (not Jordan almonds, a pinkish-coating that was just heavenly), and piles and piles of fried potatoes, curly spicy ones, homestyle-cut ones with the option of adding malt vinegar or not, waffle-cut fries. Cotton candy (candy floss). The popcorn! Buttered and salted, or with cheese (white or orange-coloured dust), or caramel corn – it all smelled so good.
If you were a child, you were glad to be “off the leash” and allowed to explore without your parents because it was a safe place. If you were a teen, dressing your best so other groups of roaming teens could see you. If an adult you looked at kids and teens and remembered when you were that age, and what it meant to you – and smiled.
Or, if you fell a bit in-between, you might meet your second-grade teacher when you have a plastic cup of beer in your hand, and feel a bit embarrassed for having grown up.