There are worse ways to spend a weekend than sitting under a shady tree along the bike path near Picnic Rocks. That's where I spent most of last Saturday and Sunday, as a vendor at the Outback art fair. I was selling copies of my book, which meant that not only was I able to enjoy soft summer breezes, chat with passersby and make a bit of money, I was able to do all that and call it work.
I shared a space with my esteemed publisher, Jerry Harju, and my fellow Mining Journal columnist Ben Mukkala. It was a bit like sharing space with "Muppet Show" regulars Statler and Waldorf, only instead of slinging playful insults at performers, they bounced them off each other. They were, however, kind and gracious to me, the fledgling bookseller. Thanks again for the coffee, guys.
About an hour into my Saturday "work" I realized that I had forgotten to bring along a book to read during slow times. You bookworms understand the panic that seized me. I scrounged through my bag: notebook, pens, tissue, water bottle... Scrounge as I might, however, no paperback or hardcover magically materialized.
Turns out I didn't need it; there were no slow times. People flowed by in a steady, colorful, fascinating stream all weekend. I saw parents pushing strollers, carrying heavy-eyed, drooping toddlers, or reining in summer-wild older kids. There were couples of all ages moseying arm in arm, small herds of laughing teenagers, and bicylists steering delicately around them all.
The best T-shirt I saw was worn by a woman about my age and read "Dragons: The other white meat." Whoever you are, madam, I salute your sense of whimsy.
And oh, the dogs! Big dogs, little dogs, calm, stately dogs and yippy, live wire dogs. I frequently got up from my table to pet a passing pooch and chat with its owner. If you want to make a friend out of a stranger, express sincere admiration for their dog.
My most memorable dog was a grinning little pug who was delighted by my sweet talk and chin scratching. The dog's owners were visiting from Florida. The woman told me that the pug had belonged to her daughter who, along with her son, had died of cystic fibrosis as young adults.
At that point I was so preoccupied by trying not to cry that I didn't quite get what she said after that. Either her son had saved money to buy the dog for his sister or to care for the dog after they were gone. Whatever the details, the woman shared her story with great love and a sad smile. She said that our brief meeting was going to be a good memory for her. I hope she knows what a precious memory it is for me, too.
What I especially appreciated about the Outback was the fact that every item in every booth was an individual creation made by human hands and imaginations. Each author had thoughtfully chosen every word, each painter carefully considered every stroke of color on canvas, each crafter had carved, woven, sewed or sculpted with a skillful eye and an artist's heart.
Art. People. Dogs. Sunshine. There may be better ways to spend a weekend, but I can't think of a one.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Deb Pascoe is a Marquette resident, mother of three and full-time editorial assistant in The Mining Journal newsroom. Her bi-weekly columns focus on her observations on life and family. She can be reached by phone at 228-2500, ext. 240, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog online at www.singlesobermom.blogspot. com. Her book is titled, "Life With a View" and is available in local bookstores.