Gray Matters — Serendipity at Common Ground
Webster's Dictionary defines "serendipity" as "luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for."
I believe I was on the receiving end of such good fortune during my recent trip to the opening day of the Common Ground Country Fair Friday afternoon, Sept. 20.
At an event that routinely draws in tens of thousands of people over the course of three days — this year organizers say 56,000 and change turned out for the agricultural fair — it is not that unusual to run into friends you may not have seen in a while.
What was so fortunate and unusual for me, though, was the way in which I ran into those friends, the fact that they were all together in the same location on the huge and crowded fairground, and that we all knew each other from the same points in our lives.
Oh yeah, and none of it was planned. But that's the best part when that happens, isn't it?
I had spent the afternoon wandering the grounds, photographing interesting people and sights, and of course, taking in some of the great food and drink traditionally offered at Common Ground. It was a sunny, unseasonably warm day, and I was already in pretty good spirits just for having gone (who can avoid smiling when you're surrounded by people who are all out to have fun on a Friday afternoon, especially when you've got some fresh squeezed lemonade to stay hydrated).
But as I was walking toward one of the admission gates preparing to head back to Belfast, I saw a familiar face in the crowd. I knew her immediately as former Journal Editor and former Waldo County Citizen Editor Beth Staples.
I was super excited to see her because it had been a while since we've had the chance to catch up. As I drew closer, I noticed another familiar face — it was former Journal and Citizen Photographer Tina Shute!
Two great friends for the price of one!
Well imagine my surprise when I recognized a third member of the old crew, former Waldo County Citizen Copy Editor Andy Kekacs and his fantastic girlfriend Libby, both of whom now reside in Canada.
By the time I reached the group, I could barely contain my excitement. After all it had been years since all of us had been together in the same place, so of course it was the perfect chance for a group photo.
We all said our hellos, and then realized how truly amazing it was that we all met when we did. As it turned out, Beth and Tina arrived together, but had no idea either Andy or I might be there too. As it also turned out, Beth was late to another engagement, so I offered Tina a ride back to town with me.
That meeting allowed us all to catch up, spend some time together, and made it possible for me to have a pleasant and unexpected visit with Tina, who shares many of my memories of covering news in Waldo County over the years.
It reminded me how much I treasure those lasting friendships that were forged because we all came from the same professional background. I feel those ties continue to bind us all because, well, we get each other. Few really understand the unique nature of this line of work, and even fewer truly appreciate what it's like to do this kind of work in a place like Waldo County.
Well they all certainly do, and I love them for it.
Of course when our mutual friend, retired Game Warden and former Waldo County Sheriff John Ford Sr. spotted our group photo on Facebook, he promptly commented that he could have sworn he'd seen that very photo posted on America's Most Wanted.
None of us has either conformed or denied that information, but one thing's for sure — if it is true, and the long arm of the law does catch up with us, I'm pretty sure none of us would change our serendipitous meeting.
We may, however, have changed the names of those involved to protect the innocent (or something).