I have finally managed to have vacation – just when I have near exhausted my vacation days and it is time to find billable hours and get up early in the morning again.

Sita and Jim are staying with us for a few days. Axel, Sita and I went to the Topsfield Fair, the oldest agricultural fair in the US, about 173 years old or thereabouts.

Sita mobilized us so we could see the Bengal Tiger show – a little depressing and more than a little degrading to see the king of the Sundurbans lowered to slavishly do tricks for the (mostly) white men with their families. They rolled over, stood on their hind legs, jumped through a hoop and growled – all this in exchange for pieces of steak tip pinned to a long stick and everyone clapped, but for what?

More entertaining were the piggy races with miniature Vietnamese potbelly pigs, adults and adolescents, racing along a tiny racetrack towards an Oreo cookie (for the winner) or crumbs (for the loser). We watched two races with hundreds of people under a warm blue sky.

Then the draught horses and their well-preserved antique delivery carts, moving effortlessly across the tracks in the big arena, competing for prize ribbons.

We had some overpriced greasy food, a must at the fair, sitting amidst obese people who each had their own portion – calories added to calories with some bacon bits to top everything off. Yum.

We saw the flowers and garden club winners, the 4H club exhibits and then stopped at the bee house where I signed Axel up to become a beekeeper sometime early next year.

Back home Sita and Jim embarked on an extravagant cooking adventure that included pumpkins filled with cheese fondue and bread and then baked in the oven. Jim worked on a parallel meal that included marinated chicken and vegetable kebabs. Tessa and some of the kids friends came over to help us eat it all – we did not quite manage so dinner for tomorrow is already cooked.

Just before bedtime Axel took me out for a kayak trip in the cove under a full moon. It was the most peaceful experience I have had in years: the calm water of Lobster Cove and further out Massachusetts Bay, the soft sound of water lapping against the rocks and the sea like a mirror –and all this in October.

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October 2011
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