The other day, my five-year-old daughter Merrie said she wished she could be a baby again, like her sister, Charlotte, because it seems more fun getting all the attention.
I wanted to remind her of some of the advantages of being a big girl: I told her of an article I had seen in the paper about a tri-state fair (with big amusement park rides and such) to be held in our little hometown, Pownal, on the grounds of the former Green Mountain Racetrack. The last two years we’ve gone to the Columbia County Fair in August, and she loves it. I reminded her that Charlotte won’t be able to go on the big rides. Merrie forgot all about wanting to be a baby, and started making plans for how we would attend every day of the 5 day tri-state fair because it would be so close to home.
We had just been to the racetrack this past weekend; Merrie was riding her bike for the first day this spring, and we used the enormous empty parking lot of the track for her to practice on safely. At one point we parked her bike and explored the outside of the track’s buildings, looking in at the stacks of chairs that probably haven’t been touched for 10 years. It’s a gloomy sight, and the emptiness must seem utterly bizarre to a 5-year-old.
The next morning, as I was driving her to school past the big forlorn racetrack, Merrie said to me from the back seat, “The thing I’m most happy about the fair coming here is just that it won’t be so empty anymore, at least for a few days.”
That’s my girl. An abandoned building and parking lot the size of an ocean just doesn’t feel right. Maybe she’ll be the one who can finally figure out how to do something productive with that racetrack property and create some more economic life for the people of Pownal.