I went to a “Lavender Festival” the other weekend. It was a small and rural event and I actually knew several people there. That is unusual because I rarely run into someone at the mall or the drugstore or the library...well, except for the one librarian that I know, but she is retiring and won’t be there much longer.
The overflow parking was in a hot and dry field behind the event. You had to walk through scratchy grass to get to the booths. The woman who helped with the parking wore dark baggy pants and a white man's shirt. Two Boy Scouts in neat uniforms, who also were supposed to help, hid in the shade at the end of the drive looking intimidated. Maybe they were afraid of her. She was 50 or 60 years with salt and pepper hair covered by a large canvas hat that she had plopped on her head to protect from the intense June sun. She weighed more than she should have and widened her stance to keep balance on the uneven ground. When we pulled up beside her she thrust two programs into my face and was firm in telling us where we needed to park. We passed her again as we walked to the event and I smiled, a little. She was missing a tooth (or two) and had a protruding mole the size of a small pea on the end of one nostril. Her face was covered in freckles and haggard. She was already beginning to sweat under the hot sun even though she had hours ahead. She pointed in the direction we needed to go. I smiled and thanked her for her help. She shared how nasty some folks could be when she told them where to park. I knew her life was hard and made sure she got the kindest and nicest look I could muster. Hubby also chimed in with friendly comments as he is Mr. Social. As we went on to the booths I wondered what her life was like, and what caused her to take on this task. Was it her daughter that was running the festival?
Ahead in the small tents, there were booths of clothes and jewelry, nothing that rang my bells. Local artisans trying to push their products. There was a booth of lavender beer and another of lavender wine. I tried neither in the hot sun. There were lavender soaps and creams and had I been in need I might have purchased something. Instead I bought live herb plants because parts of my herb bed were bare.
I ran into a gardening friend, Ibu (names changed to protect myself), who is a strong woman my age, who has traveled the world with a husband formerly from the state department. They continue travels to esoteric places like shell conventions in France! She is always firm in her attitude. She speaks enough French to get by, but her history includes growing up in Poland until she was six. She still speaks good Polish and told a story about some people she met in France who claimed they were Polish. “Hmph! They kept calling a food they liked “porogue”. I know how to say pirogue!" Then she explained that she and her husband did not buy their shells from tourist places but had collected many when they were diving many years ago. “Buying shells is not appropriate.” She has a strong and attractive face with full lips, a strong jawline, and light brown hair that may have been dyed and pulled back casually by a plastic clip. She always looks well put together without being dressed up. Ibu went on to tell us a story about an acquaintance they knew in Asia who was always trying to collect the best shells and 'one-upping' everyone while not even knowing about shells. She laughed as she explained that the couple had purchased a large and rare turban shell which they placed in a prominent place in their patio so they could brag about getting it only to find the green color was not natural and washed away in the rain. This seemed to give Ibu some satisfaction.
I met my final interesting person of the day that afternoon while shopping for groceries. He is actually someone I have seen fairly often. He works as a checkout clerk and has been in my grocery store for the last ten years. He looks close to thirty in age. I will call him Clark. Clark is somewhat overweight, has dark, close-cropped hair, and has a small mustache to break the plump circle of his round face. He wears dark rimmed Clark Kent glasses. We often have all kinds of conversations while he prices my groceries. He is someone who talks to everyone, even if you are old enough to be his grandmother. I have learned things about him over time, such as that he likes computers, he likes computer games, he has firm convictions about things certainly food, he seems to have come from a loving family, and he sometimes likes to argue for entertainment with me. This day we were talking about personal appearances. I am not sure what took us down that path (perhaps a headline on one of the tabloids), but I had gotten on the topic that women were admired for their delicate and diminutive beauty more than their strength of character and ideas. I pointed out several women in the world who did not fit this mold, but had changed the world for the better with their non-diminutive attitudes. He agreed and said that he did not like delicate or frail females, but liked women who were strong, although he did say physical appearance was about 30% important as well for attraction. He explained he had always been a big kid starting when he was eleven and pretty much was the size then that he is now. While he took on the role of protector for his younger brothers and sisters, he did not date much because he was so much bigger than most in his school. We somehow got on the topic of his not ever finding a gal that he really was attracted to although he was still looking. I looked at him and do not know why I responded as I did but very quietly I said, "Maybe you like guys instead?" He looked right back at me and said,"Actually, I am bisexual. If I see a gal that looks good I notice. If I see a guy, it is the same." I smiled and wondered how we ever got this close standing across the check-out counter.
People are fascinating to me.