Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pork Butts and a New Life Please

I stood in the gale force winds, shaking from the forty degree temps holding my prize, or rather prizes.  Two pork butts.  Ginormous hams being auctioned to raise money for my son's school.  And I was holding them.

Every year JCS has an Arts and Crafts Festival and Auction.  It is to raise a small portion of the unrestricted funds the school needs to operate.  My husband and I, dutiful Kindergarten parents we are, signed up to help.  He sat on a warm cooler and passed out poultry for four hours.  I stood in the wind, shaking and was stared at for four hours.

I have never been part of an auction before (save for that time on a business trip when I snuck in to an Auctioneers Association dinner to see if they talked that way all the time....they don't by the way).  So when told I had to step up to the platform and display whatever thingamabob or gift certificate being sold I jumped in with gusto.  However, I quickly learned dramatic license has no real place when auctioning car washes or a pie hutch.  Until the pork butts.

As I waited my turn to display some gorgeous quilt or weekend camping or four hours of house cleaning, I people watched.  As a writer, I tend to observe folks and pick up their unique quirks, tucking them away in my pocket like a 3x5 card full of future content.  There was the Mennonite couple, crisp in their dark blue clothes (tuck).  In the back was the handsome Dad wrapping his arms around his shivering son (tuck).  And (tuck) there was the two NaNas in a bidding war over the Peacock quilt, barely lifting their numbers or nodding their heads to bid.

I also looked to my son's teacher, Mrs. Spory, an angel of education.  Sitting beside her husband Mel, who lead the 5K run earlier in the day, smiling at the succession of people coming up to speak, thank or just share space with her.  Huddled in the 'plant booth' were Harry and Lucinda, hardworking folks who sacrificed greatly to have their two children attend this little private, Christian haven of education.  It was they who first introduced us to the school.  In the crowd successful business owners bid high on purpose, turning around seconds later to re-donate the thingy back to their beloved school.

I walked up, barely holding on to the ginormous packets o'pork in each arm.  I began to giggle, laugh and cry all at the same time.  How far I was from my beloved Beltway with it's Starbucks on every corner, ridiculous rents paid for by even more ridiculous salaries.  I was laughing because, well, I was holding two pig's butts (smoked, salted and packaged neatly in cellophane to be sure).  I laughed because while I have quite a ways to go before I fully understand or feel like a local, I realized I really like this new life we are living.

I like the simplicity of people for whom faith isn't a lovely ideal to be practiced on holidays.  Rather it's real and active and the framer of daily life and relationships.  I like people who commit so much and sacrifice for their families in the search for the American dream. 

And I really like pork butts.  Preferably in the form of ham pot pie, a staple at the Arts and Crafts fair.

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