Three things mark the end of summer for me: school starting, which hasn’t really been an issue for me for a few decades, Labor Day, and county and state fairs. In the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s Nashville also used to have a festival called City Lights, designed to draw people downtown, and huge crowds would go to see free concerts and visit booths for local restaurants and businesses and then downtown would be deserted again because there was nothing to stick around for.
This year I haven’t gone to any county fairs, for the same reason I didn’t go last year, or even to the state fair which used to be in Nashville but has since moved to a neighboring county. The Nashville Fairgrounds have been used for several things over the years, most recently a homeless shelter, which some people have complained about because some people have no compassion. Giving someone who’s lost so much a place to sleep seems more important than a sheep-shearing exhibit–at least that’s what I think.
One of the last years the fair was held here my wife and I went, leaving work early because she wanted to see the mule pull, and I did too but lost interest when I found out it was the mules doing the pulling, but that’s another story.
So I wandered off to the midway. We’d gotten there so early that even though the mules were already pulling and some of the animal events were happening the rides were all still closed and empty. It was as though some terrible cold had descended and frozen even time itself as I walked through a place where there should have been noise and lights and crowds, and where, in a few hours there would be.
The only predictable thing about time is its unpredictability. What next year will be like is still unknown. Even the changing of the seasons is itself changing. Walking through the empty midway I could imagine the crowds to come, but not precisely, and there would be joy and sadness and wins and losses I’d never know about. Time moves on without repeating, sometimes without rhyming, but what does it leave behind?