Thursday, August 03, 2017

Sun Up, Sundown, Diesel and Daisy Mae

I didn't have my usual time to take pictures yesterday because a major portion of the day was spent learning about Diesel, Daisy Mae and a lot of outstanding young people. 

So, today's photos are limited to morning sun and evening sun---on the rise and heading downward, respectively.

There's just enough smoke in the air from forest fires in the region to attract hundreds of cameras.  Regardless of how many photos I've seen of the August sun with its orange glow, I never cease to be amazed at a smokey sun's stunning effect in the sky. 

The big fiery orb has been putting out its share of heat here in the Northwest, and though I saw a revised weather forecast last night stating that we may not reach the triple digits over the next few days, my sticky, sweaty fingers are still having a hard time working at the keyboard this morning. 

So, it's warm, indeed; in fact, this is the first morning of 2017 that I've gone outside wearing short sleeves and no extra shirt or coat.  Should be good for the gardens.

Besides the sun and the heat, I've been thinking a lot this morning about yet another afternoon session spent with several of our county's young people. 

From 1-6 p.m. kids ranging from 10-18 filed into a fairgrounds food booth to sit down at tables where four separate duos of interviewing judges sat ready to hear their stories and ask them a few questions. 

And, great stories were told, ranging from a dog, already used as a 4-H project, will go through training to work as a diabetic alert dog. It's a family dog and its 4-H master was diagnosed with diabetes earlier this year. 

So, over the course of the next few months, the dog will learn to recognize its master's scent, including the scent revealing that the master's glucose counts are irregular. 

We listened to an amazing story from this particular 4-H'er who told us he likes his dog much more than the cat, which is okay but . . . .  He added that he couldn't imagine a world without a dog for a friend.  My teammate Diane Newcomer and I heartily agreed. 

During the interviewing process, we witnessed passion for individual projects, amazing maturity for chronological ages and some good humor.  

Believe it or not, the pig stories were the best.  One member told us that after having a sheep one year and pigs the next, there's no comparison.  Pigs rule.

And, Daisy Mae, (an old name given because of this year's fair theme celebrating 90 years of existence), truly rules the heart of her owner.  Daisy Mae plays with the dogs, and she's a downright character, we were told.  

By the time that interview ended, I wanted to go to the powers-that-be and see if someone could please just buy Daisy Mae so she could go on being a humorous, entertaining pig rather than a side of pork. 

I kinda felt the same about Diesel.  He's black.  He's tough like a diesel and sometimes he even makes sounds like a diesel, hence his name!  

Diesel's owner loves cars and documents old rigs and their emblems while completing his 4-H photography project.  

Diesel's owner also possesses a keen and subtle sense of humor, so much so that Diane suggested he type up his handwritten story and submit it to the Sandpoint Reader.  

The story is a hoot, and it does have a bit of earthy language, but how else can one talk about an animal that wallows in the mud?

We met steer owners, leather crafters, photographers, aspiring cooks, horse lovers and several potential veterinarians.  We heard about mishaps and successes with horses and learned about all the products that come from goats. We learned how to prop up a rabbit for the judge's inspection.  

Overall, we were so impressed with each 4-H'er who sat with us and shared unique and fascinating stories of the 4-H year that we awarded blue ribbons to every individual. 

Like any organization, the 4-H program has its ups and downs at times, but the opportunities and insights each project provides for young people makes it a win-win situation regardless of the ribbon awarded at the end of the project year.

One member told us she did not do so well in her projects last year, but rather than giving up, it inspired her to work much harder this year.  

A simple phrase in another 10-year-old's story reflected one of the most priceless lessons learned from taking live 4-H projects:  they are living beings, and we are responsible for their care every single day. 

Judging 4-H interviews provides a unique and reassuring perspective on our youth and, happily, a whole lot of hope. 

And, that is a good thing.  Thanks 4-H'ers for an uplifting and fun afternoon. 

Happy Thursday.  Stay cool.  And, somebody, please buy Daisy so she can keep playing with the dogs. 

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