Maine Day 25: The Wheelers and Somerset County Auction
Today was Monday in central Maine. For two years at home with two small children, this always meant we could visit the Somerset County farm auction, which goes all day long. First, vegetables. Then, items are auctioned off for a long time. Then, in the afternoon, farm animals. The people there never cease to amaze me, and while there are a few regulars, many come to trade livestock and just grab a bite to eat. They serve big plates of hot, fresh french fries, can sodas, and so on. I've always wanted to bring my camera along, as this is a place full of character (and characters). But I've never had the bravery to do so, because I've always been part of the scenery myself, participating in the auction at times. I didn't want to make everyone feel like they were a spectacle. It just felt too intimate for that. I already felt like an outsider coming in from another place. But today, I knew I was leaving again, and if I found anyone I knew, it would make things more OK, not less. I only recognized one person, but I don't think he recognized me. One lady took a long look at my Grace, but didn't say anything. She works there, so I know I've seen her before serving food, but no mention. Grace has a lot more hair now than she did then. She looks like a little girl. Our last time here, she was a toddler-curled 3-year-old in a snowbib and boots, cracking ice underfoot and stuffing her face full of fries while I bid up a snowshoe chair two dollars at a time.
The chair still sits on our front porch.
In the afternoon, we revisited our old friends, the Wheelers. Ben is a talented photographer and Waterville native. He is creative, insightful, thoughtful, and energetic all at once. If you've ever taken my workshop, you'll see them in the demo video I shot. He's married to Heidi, who is stunning and a very patient mother with a great sense of humor, whom I like very much. I adore both of their children. We had a long afternoon together at the Alfond Municipal Pool, which sounds uninspired from the name, but it's a waterpark extraordinaire. But it's still Maine, so unless you happen to be there on one of the like six scorching days a year, you're going to need to go in the water only intermittently and then warm up. Most people think wrapping in a towel is the way to go, but the kids have the right idea: sprawl out directly on the cement to warm up. No towel, just face to concrete. Then look asleep. If it's not too windy, you'll be warm in no time.
Then back to our hotel, but this time without Geoff. Challenging to get into and out of a hotel without him, but the children were a huge help, especially once I told them they could surf on the luggage cart.
This is what I saw.