“I just got word that we won’t be able to start cleaning until 10:30 p.m., so find something to do until then.” Those weren’t the words my husband and I wanted to hear, but then again, we weren’t surprised either.
For the past ten years or so my husband and I have volunteered, along with other members of our church, to help clean the Coliseum at the Minnesota State Fair. Our church gets a substantial donation for doing so, and heck, how tough can it be for twelve nights?
In theory our group can begin cleaning at 9 p.m., a time when events are scheduled to conclude. Vendors along the arena corridor of the Coliseum also close at that time to encourage spectators to move on to other diversions. It sounds good but seldom happens.
Horse events tend to run long depending on how many entrants are involved, how many riders fall off, and how eccentric the judges may be on any particular night. In case you are wondering, ambulances arrive in the arena impressively fast, and yet there is much talking and limb moving before anything happens to clear the incident. Time stretches and doesn’t give back.
Being a veteran cleaner at this point, I accept that I won’t be arriving home until 2 or 3 in the morning. We wait, and make the best of the time. If possible I climb high into the stadium seating—the very seating I will be cleaning—and watch the remainder of the horse judging.
On Friday night one of the horse classes included Arabian Western Pleasure. Four horses entered the ring with bedazzled, and yet serious, riders. I like Arabian horses a lot, but they are not my favorite breed. However, on this night a breathtaking grey Arabian floated into the ring like gossamer silk caught on a breeze. S/he was the horse of fantasy posters lining young girl’s bedrooms. I had no clue whether the horse and rider were performing well, and apparently they weren’t because this stunner came in fourth out of four horses. But oh what a vision! I kept thinking how much my mom would have loved to watch the horse judging, how she would have loved to have seen the wagons pulled by magnificent draft horses in weighty prance lines, and to have seen this silver Arabian. The sadness of Mom’s death, and the reminder of her love of all things horse-related, drifted over me for a bit and I took a deep breath.
As I settled back into the stadium chair I noticed a penny on the cement floor. Picking it up, I shook my head. Mom always visits in the form of random pennies these days. I smiled. “Sorry Mom! I didn’t see you there.” But of course she was.
It was the best part of my day.