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Column: A more-than-fair day for Mary

The final morning of the Dakota County Fair dawned day and cool, an antidote to the preceding week of storms and humidity. There was almost a touch of chill in the strong breeze as my husband and I walked towards the front gate. Finally the perfect weather for the fair arrived. The first order of the day was food. Egg bake casserole and not-too-strong coffee from the Trinity Lutheran Church diner fit the bill. The long tables were covered with checkered plastic tablecloths. Kids cheerfully dug into stacks of pancakes while adults sipped coffee from foam cups. The happy energy of the diner was an ideal kick off to a day at the fair.The next item on the agenda was the 4-H rabbit agility contest. We ambled over to the rabbit and chicken building where young 4-H members were setting up the obstacle course. There were ramps, a tunnel, hurdles and a tire to jump through. A hush fell over the crowd as the first furry contestant and his owner stepped up to the course. The bunny sniffed the air expectantly, and then hit the ground running, leaping over a hurdle and darting back and forth around a series of tiny traffic cones. Then he stopped. He cowered in front of the tire. The young owner knelt down and patted the bunny, whispering soft words of encouragement. Finally the rabbit leapt, clearing the tire in one bound, and tore up the ramp. I've watched canine agility contests before and the dogs never stop running. Sometimes they run in the wrong direction, but they don't stop. For the most part, the dogs seem to have no natural brakes and an owner's call or whistle is all it takes to get them racing around with their tongues hanging out. Bunnies, on the other hand, apparently require gentle reassurance and encouragement to leap over the hurdles facing them. We watched as one young contestant after another had to gently coax their bunnies at some point during the obstacle course. The patience and tenderness the 4-H kids demonstrated in working with their rabbits was remarkable.Many of the people in our lives are like the rabbits, needing a pat on the hand and gentle encouragement to overcome hurdles. We need to remember this in our interactions with our friends, children and co-workers. So often, we're in a hurry and ignore someone who is frozen in their spot, rushing past them instead of giving them a few words of encouragement. What I saw at the rabbit agility contest was a group of kids with more patience for their rabbits then most of us adults have for anything. I was reminded how I need to show others that kind of patience, to give them gentle encouragement. Even though the people around me don't usually run around miniature traffic cones in their-day-to-day lives, they do face worries about finances and illness and all other kinds of obstacles.We were lucky to have one day of beautiful weather to enjoy the fair. The sun was warm, the food was tasty, and in the rabbit agility contest, every bunny was a winner.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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