Okay, we left here Wednesday morning and got to Albert Lea at noon - grabbed lunch at Arby’s and went to check in. We got our usual spot on the back row - nice and quiet and away from the vendors. Then we started to set up, a lengthy process.
There were wasps and beetles and bees, oh my! And no-see-ums (biting ones) and flies! We were in the afternoon sun; it was hot and I was nervous about the bees and wasps. Norm sprayed inside and out to hopefully keep them away and I kept my eyes open. But we finally got the tent up and everything put in it’s proper place. Norm drove out to the store to get ice for the ice box and supper for us so I didn’t have to cook that night. I laid down for a short nap but soon got up to rearrange things so that we didn’t have to make too many changes for school tours.
Our good friends Patience and Harley showed up - they live in Albert Lea - and brought us a present - our very own popcorn popper! We have a tradition of having popcorn every time we get together with a fire; lately I’ve been supplying the popcorn, lard and butter and they have supplied the popper. Now I have my own!
Thursday morning bright and early we got up and got ready for school tours. I had a later tour than Norm so I made breakfast - cold granola and store-bought rolls! The “promised” wind change had hit during the early morning hours so we had to batten down the hatches. Da hurricane done happened! Norm’s fly - separate from the tent so that he was demonstrating away from me - went down early on so he just took it down. We had gusts of wind that knocked my demo loom off the table, knocked boxes of their tables and tore a rip in one of the canvas sides. I had a crock, a jar and a bowl break. We later heard that the winds were gusting to about fifty-five miles an hour! We also heard that Albert Lea had trees down, lost some electricity and some people got hurt. There were tents that went down, one with a friend of ours in it! She didn’t get hurt, though.
Despite the wind, the school children came and we had a very good day. A lot of interested, well behaved children make my demonstrations much easier.
Thursday night, despite the wind, we had Blacksmith Wally over for supper. I like to have company over to eat - it gives me incentive to make more than just cold sandwiches for Norm and I. That night we had hamburgers with home-made buns, canned baked beans and fried potatoes and onions. We also had an apple cobbler. Using my brazier makes it easier to cook and sometimes even fun. Norm helps lift hot, heavy cast iron pans on and off the fire, hauls water for heating to wash and even pours water from the big coffee pot that we use for water into the wash basins.
The wind died down towards sunset, so we lit our outside lanterns, lit the chandelier inside and got ready for bed. I usually wash dishes in the morning, so we poured hot soapy water over them and let them sit overnight.
Friday was a duplicate for school tours but nicer, as it got up in the eighties and there was very little wind. (Whew!) Friday after tours, Patience came over to rest and visit. Norm headed to town to get ice and biscuits .. I had baked biscuits at home but left them there. By the time Harley got there, supper was nearly done. When we had visited on Wednesday, I gave him the option for supper (every meal was pre-planned and nearly pre-fixed at home, so all we had was a choice of what night to fix them); Harley had requested chicken dumpling soup (egg dumplings), so that’s what we had. I had planned on a desert but then we had popcorn in mind, so did not.
And we did have POPCORN!!! A most important part of the week at Big Island! Our new popper worked great!
Saturday and Sunday were open to the public. It was also the time for a relaxed breakfast; I made biscuits and sausage gravy, inviting dear friend Ole Oleson (actually Roger) to join us. Norm had gotten a tube of refrigerator biscuits and I fry-baked them on the brazier. Not as good as homemade ones, but they worked to carry the gravy and sausage.
We had visitors from other parts of the site come - with my knee, my back and now my ankle, I don’t walk to far from the campsite, so am very pleased when friends come to see me.
The most important part of the weekend was the visitors that came on Saturday. Daughter Jill and Grandpuppy Hank showed up to surprise Norm, wander with Norm and I (limited on my part), have supper and meet some friends. Made my day, my week! Thank you, Jill, for taking the time to come!
Being at Big Island during early mornings and evenings are magical. Everyone dresses in proper clothing and not a modern thing can be seen. It’s like being back in time! I love it!
Sunday afternoon is tear-down and the magic goes away. Big Island is on a peninsula (think I’ve mentioned that before) so there is only one road in and one road out. People go out to get their cars mid afternoon and sit in line waiting for all the guest to leave; then they are allowed on, a few at a time; there is a pattern to the way they drive on. After sites are torn down, people can start leaving, again in line, again in pattern. It takes hours just to get in and out, let alone tearing down.
The magic is gone
So Norm and I have finally gotten smart! We wait until Monday morning! While everyone else is packing up, waiting for a partner to bring in the vehicle, I sit and watch, visit with those who are like us, waiting until Monday, pack up some of the plastic tubs (yarns, table cloths, etc), fold up tables and chairs, get extra clothes ready to put in the van, change to modern clothes. Norm helps others tear down; about 7:00, he goes out to get the van and trailer. We put the tent stove in, pack up his shave horse and tools and start loading. Then have a glass (mug) of wine and hit the hay. Monday morning we get up and start tearing down for earnest. We got done about noon, said goodbye to friends who were still on site and grabbed some lunch (Arby’s again - we don’t have one near us) and headed home.
This is the fourth year that I have been “bee free” - the last bee sting was at Big Island five years ago so I was very pleased. And, please all the good gods, I will remain bee free for the remainder of the fall!
Now the season is over, we are washing and packing up items we won’t use until next year. The next period event is in March, in New Ulm, an indoor Trade Show. We have been invited to a February one in Albert Lea, but we haven’t decided, yet, about that one.
It’s a beautiful but windy day today - we have had high wind warnings for several days, but it’s supposed to be over by midnight tonight - I certainly hope so. You have a beautiful day.