Friday, July 30, 2010

What a "Fair"

I've been attending the "Ann Arbor Art Fair" for 35 years now.  I put it in quotes as there isn't one fair, but a whole bunch - four official fairs, and a bunch of offshoots, street and parking lot vendors, etc.  I've always gone on Friday afternoons of the four day, Wednesday to Saturday, event.  In fact, I met my wife on a rainy Friday evening during the fair a long time ago.   But that is another story.

The whole month of July here in southeast Michigan can be classified with one word - "HOT".  The fourth week of July is usually pretty warm, but this year it was significantly hotter than usual.  The heat index Friday afternoon was at about 105 degrees (F).  That is pretty hot.  It was high 90's plus very high humidity.  Not really looking forward to walking around outside on the asphalt streets and amongst the throngs of people.  But we went.  

We knew we wouldn't see everything.  In the old days we could spend five or six hours walking around and seeing almost everything.  These days as walking gets harder and the stamina falters, we have to pick and choose.  Given the heat, we changed up our usual route.  After 35 years, you have a game plan and routes that let you see the most without backtracking.  We saw some interesting stuff and spend about two and a half hours slowly moving through the streets.  

One thing that has me puzzled though is how little new there was.  Back in the "good old days" - 80's and 90's - it seemed like there was always something new, or at least something that you saw a lot of people buying.  I really am tired of seeing the same photographs, paintings, ceramic pots, jewelry, and even glass.  We haven't bought any art in probably the last five years.  Some years we'd come back with half a dozen items, some years it would be that one piece that really grabbed us.  But we don't seem to find that any more.

I had rained earlier in the day on Friday, and there was a strong wind storm on Thursday night.  One of the streets is known as "tornado alley" as the winds really play havoc with the tents.  I heard a lot of people lot work who hadn't prepared properly for that condition.  I remember one year we were on tornado alley when the winds and rain came.  I remember the sounds of glass breaking and the sight of tents flying down the street.  It was really bad.  I don't have exact statistics, but we know in our hearts that it will rain during the fair on Friday.  It may be a small shower or heavy downpour but it WILL RAIN.  

We were tired and sweaty around five o'clock so we decided just to go to dinner.  We have a favorite Greek place that we always go to.  Since we were on the other side of the town due to changing up our route, we got in the car and tried to drive over.  Parking on that side of town wasn't looking good and we just decided to go to the Red Lobster out by where we live.  The air conditioning in the car sure felt good.  Then about five minutes later the heavens opened up.  There was the "art fair downpour" we'd been expecting.  It was fun watching the people scurry like cockroaches when you turn the lights on!  I know that feeling - we've been there too many times to count.  It only lasted 10 minutes but really did help cool down.

Get into the restaurant and then the lights go out.  It was only about 10 seconds and they were back on, but then another storm came.  This one was much bigger and the winds were very strong.  That one lasted about 30 minutes and since we were inside weren't paying much attention.  Driving home the six miles you could tell that the closer we got to home, the worse it was.  There were trees and leaves and branches and trash cans everywhere.  Pulling into the driveway it looked like a war zone.  Of course, there was no power.  It was still very hot, and now really humid.  I didn't see much damage until I went to the far side of the house and saw this.
There was a nice 12 foot high ornamental flowering cherry tree in this area, now it is tangled up with some branches that fell from the 70 foot oak trees that are nearby. The clean up task will begin.  There are leaves and branches everywhere.  I suspect it'll be a couple of weeks before things look normal again.

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