Immediately upon entering the huge barn, I noticed a couple things. First, the snack trailer’s menu posted on the wall, featuring corn dogs, hot dogs, nachos, and Rolaids. (The Rolaids seemed a little pricey to me.) Secondly, my skinny jeans and scarf looked ridiculous in a sea of Carhartt and bibbed overalls. As I sat and shivered, everyone else was warm, snug, and well insulated. In that moment, I would’ve traded my favorite curling iron for a flannel shirt.
But I settled in for a good time, and a good time indeed I had. The animal auction was preceded by a junk sale (their words, not mine). And through this auction, spurred on by fast and hard bidding, tripped a myriad of fascinating articles—everything from Windex to men’s underwear (an 8-pack of Hanes with only one pair missing). As each item was auctioned, a worker held it up for all to see.
And then, to the wonder of us all, the auctioneers pulled out the grand prize, the most coveted item of the night…a barely used post hole digger. And not just any post hole digger. This smokin’ set came with a heavy duty gear box and driveline, a bolt-in replaceable spiral point, high strength tubing, and a collar for additional durability. Yeah.
As can be expected, the entire crowd gasped, reverently and in perfect unison. For a moment, no one dared to speak, until the lady in front of me broke the spell, emphatically proclaiming to the woman next to her, “Them is some sex-xy post hole diggers.” Her friend nodded in vehement agreement, “Mmmmm-hmmm!”
And that’s when I lost it. And that’s when BJ started elbowing me in the ribs. “Stop it!” he hissed, “She’s gonna beat the crap out of you, and then I’ll have to fight her.” His point was duly taken, for she was a substantial woman who could certainly hold her own against any man.
Call me crazy, but in that moment, my very soul filled to the top and bubbled over with joy. To be honest, the small animal auction wasn’t exactly my scene. I would’ve felt more comfortable munching popcorn at the movies with my girlfriends or discussing Jane Austen with fellow English nerds. But I was getting a glimpse of something new, another mini-culture within my own little world. To be sure, it was different. But I’ve come to learn that different is neither better nor worse. It’s just different. And if we’re privileged enough to experience different, we need to be grateful and soak up every moment.
I’ve been reminded so often lately (but still not nearly enough): “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) This life, this precious life is fragile. Like the heirloom cake platter from my grandma that, so sadly, got broken in one of our moves, this life can shatter in just a moment. It’s also fleeting. It goes from start to finish in a blur, in constant fast forward with no option to pause. And, as simplistic as it sounds, life is final. When it’s done, it’s done. No do-overs, no second chances, no recalls.
So we must live each day like it’s both our first and last, embracing the moments (silly, substantial, or otherwise) with gratitude because we so keenly understand that we aren’t guaranteed any more. This crazy, random, ridiculous, eventful, uneventfullife become precious when we remember that it’s fragile, it’s fleeting, and it’s final.
Sadly, I couldn't talk my husband into buying me a sheep. But I did win the bid on a pair of antique ladder back chairs. When I see them, I smile and remember them sexy post hole diggers and wonder how they’re hanging in there.
North Carolina is full of super cool folks, but this lady right here takes the cake. Vinnie, who still makes and sells quilts at the Ashe County Farmer's Market, turned 98 this year. She rocks.