From Happy to Sad and Back to Happy

I was going to feel like Queen for a Day at the Apple Blossom Festival, but fate intervened

May 2020

I was happy and proud and excited, all at the same time. Throw in a little nervous, and you’ve got my state of mind for early May.

Out of the blue, because of a column I wrote here a few months ago, I received a call from a lovely woman in Winchester, Va. She said she reads and enjoys my columns, and asked if I might be interested in speaking to a group of ladies.

Well, I am always interested in speaking to a group of ladies. Even ladies who have men along.

Then, I found out the “group” actually will number about 500 at the ladies’ horticultural society luncheon at the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester. I’ve never spoken to a group that large — or anywhere near that — and I’m trying not to be intimidated. Just the thought made me a little queasy. But excited. I know that, as an old performer, when I step to the stage I’ll be “on” and just fine.

I should get this out of the way first: I know absolutely nothing about horticulture. I can barely keep a plant alive. But, thanks to my interesting and quite varied life, I hoped these ladies would like to hear what I have to tell them.

Then, the sweet and enthusiastic caller asked if I’d be willing to ride on a float in the Apple Blossom Parade. Would I? You betcha! What a hoot just to think about. I have never ridden on a float before. I’ve been practicing my wave … and there’s nothing “royal” about it.

There are probably at least 100,000 people who show up to celebrate the beautiful, fragrant apple blossoms every year. The festival runs for 10 days, climaxing with the biggest events on the weekend of May 1. Each year, a well-known personage serves as grand marshal. 

This year, it’s Terry Bradshaw. I thought, it should be fun mixing it up with the inimitable Mr. Bradshaw at the parties if I can get close to him. Whenever I’ve seen him on a talk show, he’s pretty darned humorous.

Then, suddenly, my glee took a downturn. This year would have been the 93rd for the festival, but it was not to be. A couple months after I accepted the invitation, I learned that the festival was off because of the need to limit crowd sizes, due to the coronavirus threat.

Disappointed? You bet. The ladies in charge had even offered to have a driver take me where I wanted to go! Imagine: a driver of my own.

Now, I’m my own driver, on those rare occasions when I venture out of the house for necessities. Not exactly what I had in mind. But some things must take precedence over the frivolity of a festival, and riding on a float. Health, for one. As I write this in late March, the nation and, indeed, much of the world, is swirling in what I call Coronageddon. We’re all self-isolating (something I’ve done for years). We’re all praying. And wishing we’d bought more toilet paper, chicken and potatoes.

So while I’ve gone from happy to sad at my lost chance for fun, I’m happy that people are taking precautions. Some of them are extreme, to be sure, but I do like that people are paying attention and trying to persevere as best they can. This time is reminding us of the little things that we might have forgotten about — curling up to read a book, calling a friend who’s been out of touch, emailing a “thinking of you” card to a relative or neighbor.

And of course, dreaming of the 2021 Apple Blossom Festival. Stay well, dear readers!

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