Culture vulture

Get it while it’s hot
Is it possible, or necessary, to atone for the horrible acts we committed as children? If childhood is indeed the proverbial age of innocence, the answer to this all-but-rhetorical inquiry is a resounding, “No.” And yet the question lingers in the wings of the theater of our memory, ready at a moment’s notice to strut and fret its way to center stage and dominate our thoughts until the hook of current events drags it back to the shadows whence it came.

What, you may be asking yourself, brought on this line of puerile introspection? Has Culture Vulture become mired in some soul-dimming emotional morass of futile regret? Well, to put it in a nutshell, no, we haven’t.

It started thusly. Every spring for the past six years my self and the girl of my dreams, I. Daphne St. Brie, have attended the Artisans Faire at Downtown Plaza Park in early May. It’s a lovely pre-Mothers Day event, filling the downtown park with all manner of talented people hawking everything from handcrafted hammer dulcimers to blown-glass vases to brazed garden ornaments to tie-dyed clothing to stoneware plates to wooden toys. And plenty more besides.

So there we were strolling hand in hand into the park on Sunday afternoon, pleasantly sated by a Grilla Bites luncheon, when the heat hit us both, hard. “Jeez. Hey Daphie,” I intoned, doing my impression of a living creature shrinking into a desiccated husk, “Now I know what an ant under a magnifying glass feels like.”

“I know,” came my love’s reply. “I was really sad the first time we walked through here after they cut down all the trees. But not half as sad as I am now.” And that, of course, was crux of the problem. Every previous memory of browsing our way around the Artisans Faire is shrouded in the lush green shade of those majestic if decrepit elms. And now here we were on this decapitated urban plain shielding our eyes with our hands and trying to find relief in the skimpy shade cast by nylon booth tops.

Adversity breeds resilience, though, or something like that, and we continued our perambulation around the plaza. Of particular note to several vendors was my Sierra Nevada Brewery T-shirt. “Those guys make some great beer,” remarked one smiling potter, mopping her brow with a damp towel. She didn’t need to add, “Boy, could I ever use a frosty one right now.” Communication was 90 percent perspiration in that exchange.

A jewelry-making couple near the corner of Third and Main inquired for directions to the brewery as we were exiting the park, and they looked very happy to hear that the brewery also contains one of the town’s finest restaurants. I could just picture them settling in after a long hot day of vending, discussing the day’s events over a well-chilled pitcher of Pale Bock or Summerfest, as beads of condensation rolled down the sides of their glasses.

But crossing the street, the sun reasserted itself mightily, and I couldn’t help but reflect once again on those pitiful and innocent ants that as a small boy I used to fry to a smoking crisp under the glowing focal point of a large magnifying glass. It’s impossible in retrospect to assign a clear motive to such guileless cruelty, so at this point all I honestly say is, "Sorry, ants, just stay out of my dog’s food dish, and I’ll do my best to live and let live from now on."