Talking to the animals
I'd expected to spend Sunday afternoon at my dining room table working on a tricky part of the Book of Ruth. Instead, my oldest son, his wife and one of my granddaughters "nannapped" me and took me to the Hood River County Fair. It was wonderful.
My granddaughter's favorite books from my hand-me-down collection include those with pictures of farm animals. And when we read them together, I say the animal's name and she answers with the sounds they make. We've got our own call-and-response thing going. Sometimes I tease her by arguing that pigs say "woof woof" and she looks at me puzzled, before she bursts into a grin, realizing, I hope, that I am only teasing her.
The drive to the fair was wonderful, speeding up the Columbia Gorge, through a typical Oregon mist, the deep blue river on our left and rocky cliffs and water falls on our right. It was the perfect prescription for a life lately grown too hectic. We left the freeway and wound through the hills around Hood River on our way to the fairgrounds. I know these roads well from decades of Apple Quests (so named by my husband), the October search for the perfect pumpkin and summer Sunday drives. I got a little weepy as I sat behind my son while he did the driving, knowing he'd sat behind his dad on so many similar trips before.
The Hood River County Fair is small, steeped in all kinds of 4-H competitions. We took in the kitchen entries, walked along tables of cookies and jams. But we lingered longest in the animal barns. My granddaughter, who says "whoa" in a way that makes me stop, take notice and smile every time she utters it, repeated the word each time she encountered a new animal. Chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, roosters, goats, sheep, pigs, cows and horses greeted her with the same sounds she'd been practicing at story time. And she seemed incredulous.
You get the drift. There's no way that I can describe the wide-eyed delight on that little girl's face as she realized these animals, who looked just like the pictures in her books, spoke to her in languages that she recognized. I laughed all afternoon. What an unexpected surprise. One that has me smiling today as I sit at my dining room table working on a tricky part of the Book of Ruth.
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