Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its sixth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

October 1, 2014

FRYEBURG FAIR FROLIC

... okay, i  apologize ... "frolic" ... rather, clearly a wanderabout ... it was that or create some of catchy alliteration using the word [f]otography, and i knew you’d never forgive me if i did that ...

... john and i wandered into the northwestern mountains to visit the famous “fryeburg fair," our goal being to see, learn, and, we hoped, find a few pictures ...

... on the way john routed us to one of maine’s most iconic intersections ... i wonder if the early settlers had this in mind as they were clearing the rocks and trees from the land ...

... after a bit of web research concerning some of the things i’ve been told over the years,  i am hereby retracting any statement i’ve ever made about the age of the fair ... simply, while the fryeburg fair has been around for quite some time, i’m waiting for someone to provided some definitive information concerning “oldest” and “longest” running ...

... strolling down the midway, this was the first face to captivate me ... i most liked how gentle he was as he encouraged the kids to take their seats in the little “big truck” ride he was running ...

... she had her foot all the way down, “pedal to the metal,” even as he was wondering, “what have i got myself into” ...

... my bet is the old man in the wheelchair was thinking, “when i was a youngsta we didn’t wear those silly earmuffs cuttin’ wood ... didn’t have no complicated chainsaw, neith’r ... nosir ... single or double edged, that was what we’d argue over” ...

... this was a place brought me to thinking i might stop shaving ... any bets as to whether or not my beard would be whiter’n his ... ??? ...

... today, the term “operate a machine” means to push a button or turn a dial ... two generations ago it meant that a contest between mental will and mechanical stubbornness was going to be matched in intensity by the conflict muscle and metal would need wage before invention submitted to serving its master ...

... i admit it, i fell for this woman the moment she hopped aboard her well-worn tractor ... i was a bit offended when the announcer made a little joke as she removed her sweatshirt, but then accepted that a tiny moment of sexist humor was a long ways from the days when she wouldn't have been allowed out of the spectator viewing area ... not genetic, rather, i'm sure, cultural determinism, but i still think that in some situations in which a male would bully or attempt to command a machine it's fascinating how instead a woman will ever so gently persuade it into doing what she wants ... [okay, the plugs're in my ears, go ahead, flame away] ...

... i don't know if she ended up moving the pile of concrete blocks the required distance, but, no matter, i was impressed with the effort she made ...

... i'm not sure if he was a relative or friend, but his attention never wavered ...

... each caught up in the event, each, i think, for a brief moment becoming part of the fight ...

... he was a crowd favorite ... after his try they handed him the microphone ... standing next to a poorly muffled idling tractor, i couldn't make out everything he said, but some of it was about the many decades he's showed up to compete, and how he plans to never stop trying ...

... driving away after his turn, he turned and paused, as if to send his great energy back to the young competitor who had taken his place in the arena ...

... the crowd, a pretty girl off to his right, the two older men who were coaching him from his left, all disappeared as his world became naught but machine and weight and will ...

... here, on this concrete apron, an entire world within the world ...

... something new, to watch a goat getting a trim ... ma had a rig kind of like this—well, okay, mostly she used one of the plastic bowls she kept stored in the cabinet next to the stove ... she would push down to hold us in place ... we knew better than to try to drop down to lessen the pressure, having learned through painful experience and the side-splitting laughter of friends that doing so would only result in getting nicks in our ears and having to walk out of the house with a dramatically skewed hairline ...
... i watched him stare at these two pieces of tack for several minutes, under his breath mumbling some very interesting phrases concerning the ancestry and habits of both the leather straps and their owner ... "i've got fix this one so it ends up the same size as the other one" ... i counseled, "well, make sure to charge 'em for the thinking" ... he laughed, "yea, that's going to cost them some" ...

... john and i shared a nice lunch, then it was a bit of "photography 101" ... "location—location—location" ... we spent a half-hour searching out the best spot for taking pictures of the races ...

... on my belly, lens stuck beneath the fence along the first turn, we'd gotten it right ...
... one approach is to try capture the motion, which, of course, means not trying to stop it ...

... while another way of seeing is find a moment, a tiny, fleeting, minuscule slice of time, and frame it for inspection, examination, and, above all else, wonder ...
... alongside the fence at the corner of the raceway, crowd and carnival and all else in the distance, there, in the singularity of that place, the richness of life burst forth, as if a solitary flower blooming at the edge of a field far from all the others of its kind ...
... john found a most fascinating fowl ... the chicken, i think, was equally fascinated ... amazing, absolutely amazing ...
... a little girl and her cow, she, at least, anxiously awaiting their moment before the judges ...
... the cow detailing area ... i wanted to see if they'd do my car ... i also wondered if it was possible for them to turn that beast into a nice comforter for my living room couch ...
... little girl glasses and little girl decorated shirt, even the little girl pig tails ... those of you who raised daughters, i'm sure these're familiar, even wistfully missed ... but—ah, how cool, little girl s**tkickers and a little girl pink shovel for shoveling—i mean, mucking out the stalls ... "precious," redefined ...
... a girl, not yet understanding pretty, thus even more so, and her friend, a huge bull ... this week, in the midst of a busily bustling crowd of people of all ages and sizes, she is allowed to handle this giant beast, while next week in school she'll probably be required to have a hall pass to go to the restroom ... so strange ...

... no matter, i believe this picture is a peek into the essence of the fryeburg fair ...