By Clyde Davis: local columnist
“Start the hose. We need a drink.”
It took me a minute to locate the source of the hoarse whisper. Actually, I knew where it came from; it took me a minute to believe my ears.
The box tortoise in my right hand, the larger of the two, winked, opened his mouth and repeated: “Turn on the hose. We need a drink.”
I was turning my grandson’s tortoises loose for their evening stroll, and as I put them on the grass, next to the now-running hose, I murmured,
“Leonardo, is that you?”
“One and the same. We can’t be ready for the tortoise race at the county fair, if we aren’t hydrating properly.”
I couldn’t imagine that we’d managed to catch the same tortoise we had kept last summer, but that seemed to be the case. And … “I have a bone to pick with you, my reptilian friend.”
He looked up from the water he was lapping, staring at me in surprise.
“You know I don’t eat meat, except for bugs. Why would you want to share a bone with me?”
“No, that’s an expression. I’m talking about the way you ran off, just before the county fair last summer. You left us high and dry, which is a suitable cliché for Clovis. We had no tortoise for the race.”
“Oh, that. Well, do you remember the story of the runaway bride? She ended up in Albuquerque, which is also high and dry. Like her, I got cold feet. Won’t happen this year.”
County Fair is, indeed, less than a month away, scheduled for the week of Aug.13. Whether your favorite event is the box tortoise races (which I assume are still on the schedule), the music and entertainment, the fair food, or the animals, it’s still a good time to get the week on your calendar. I look forward to the event for a variety of reasons, including the ones I’ve mentioned.
Are you fortunate enough to be hosting out-of-town guests during this year’s fair? There isn’t a better way to give them a taste of regional flavor (and I don’t just mean the cooking) than to take them to the fair.
Are you new to the area, perhaps stationed at Cannon or starting school at Eastern New Mexico University, and wondering what the future here holds for you? The fair may not answer that question, but it will give you a brief slide show of life in this area. County fairs in general still lead the way in being regional, not homogeneous, events.
“Well there’s a full moon in the western sky,
“And there’s magic in the air.
“Ain’t nothin’ I know of, can make you fall in love,
“Like a night at the county fair.”
Got a special girl (or guy) you want to get to notice you just a little more?
How about taking Chris Ledoux’s advice in the song “County Fair”? It doesn’t have to be a “pretty rancher’s daughter, green eyes and golden hair.” Ask somebody to the county fair. Unlike a movie date, you can’t hide in the darkness, and that’s good.
Remember the dates: the week of Aug. 13. Our tortoise will be in his final training — or trying to escape again.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org