Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And How Was YOUR Weekend?

Good weekend. Nothing huge or explosive. Actually quite the contrary.

The annual Ag Fest was this weekend, and I drew the straw and covered the opening day, Saturday. Ag Fest is just like what it sounds like, with a Crucian twist. It's St. Croix's answer to every county fair or 4-H gathering you've ever been to (and as a reporter on a string of small newspapers, I assure you I've been to plenty.) No elephant ears, but Johnny Cake, which are essentially big lumps of fried dough. Didn't see any deep-fried Snickers, but I'll bet there's no county fair anywhere in the Pacific Northwest featuring kalaloo or fungi.

The opening ceremonies were interminable, and as the reporter covering for the Source I had to be there. First, it started late. Let's be honest. Everything here starts late unless I happen to arrive late, in which case it miraculously starts on time. But since the 9:30 opening parade didn't start until 10:10, there wasn't much chance for the ceremony, which started at 1034 by my clock. By 11 they had introduced all the speakers and the various other officials and high muckety mucks and ... well, basically everyone there. By 11:30 they had finally presented the first award. I got a picture, and realized I had neglected to charge my camera. So, with all the information I needed in the program I'd bought at the gate, I wandered away for a while and joined Tori, who had dispaired of my ever leaving the stage area. We went off to explore.

I don't know if it's the nature of fairs or the nature of farm people. but this fair looked a lot like the Union County Fairs I used to cover in La Grande back in 1980. You want cows? They got cows. You want chickens or rabbits or goats? They got chickens and rabbits and goats. They've got the exhibition hall filled with displays by all the local schools illustrating the fair's theme. There was plenty of fresh produce to buy (we scored a bunch of great tomatoes) and merchants selling all kinds of stuff, from local crafts to clothes to music to you name it. And booths by local agencies, utilities, government groups etc. each eager to tell their story to anyone who made the mistake of slowing down while walking by.

We scored 16 pencils and pends, thee water bottles, three sewing kits, four tote bags, two note pads, some hand sanitizer and some information that will come in handy for Max's science fair project. It was fun. And Tori bought my birthday present, which I will endeavor to be surprised about on Wednesday.

As we prepared to leave we had to walk by the stage area, where I heard the governor starting his speech. He was the last speaker on the agenda for the opening ceremony. It was finay ending, two and a half hours after it began. They've got some serious tolerance for public speaking on this island. So I went back, listened, got a few more quotes and the other information I needed, and we left.

Sunday we wasted the day. And I mean, seriously wasted it. Except for driving around taking Millie to work and Max to a friend's house, we mostly sat and watched the entire second season of HIMYM. I worked editing for the Source that night, but if you asked what I did Sunday, I'd tell you "not much, and it felt great."

And Monday we spent the morning at the beach. Read a great book and got a little too much sun doing it.

There was a cruise ship dominating the seascape from where we were, about a mile or so from the pier. It's been a good year for cruise ships, Monday's was the third in a row. The bring in a couple of thousand (or more) tourists for a day who drop their money and enjoy the island. The population of Frederksted more than doubles while they're here. Sitting there watching it (and watching the tourists strolling down the beach, we commented again how these people had spent a year, sometimes much more than a year, to take a cruise to visit the island for a day. And we get to live here 24/7/365.

As I watched the cruise ship, I saw a catamaran come around the corner to seaward of the big ship. All its sails were set and it was making really good time. Within minutes it was directly off shore of us, dropping its sails. They threw out an anchor and became part of our backdrop. If the two, I'd much rather sail on a catamaran than a cruise ship. I don't like umbrellas in my drink.

Anyway, the photo attached shows Tori in the water with the cruise ship in the background and the cat to the left (south, for you geography nuts.) I kept shifting my position to get the boat directly behind Tori, but it was too fast. I finally settled for the image you see. It shows enough, I think.

Just another day in paradise.

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