I'm guessing we don't do it because we really love swinging sledgehammers (but doesn't Pip look bad-ass, doing it?)
Nor do I think we do it because we're just so psyched about painting fabric in cool-looking stripes and then climbing a ladder (in the middle of a water hazard) to attach it to a concrete cylinder. I would like to point out that Rupert is, very sensibly, standing at the edge of the water looking on while Kathie and Stacey do the wet and heavy lifting.
There's lots of reasons, I suppose. The one I use to combat my husband's "work" comments with all his air quotes is that at some point, when I re-enter the work force, Fair Hill is going to be about the only thing on my resume for the past eight years. My next job, after this stay-at-home mom gig comes to an end, is going to happen because of Fair Hill and the "work" I have done. "Stay-at-home mom" doesn't really look all that great on a resume. But "The Voice of the FHI Family?" That can pack a punch. I hope. I'll let you know in a couple years.
But that's not the REAL reason. That's the reason you give to husbands, who humor you and go along with it, but who don't really understand. But it's not the REAL reason.
Part of the real reason is this place. It's just incredibly beautiful here. Amazingly, incredibly beautiful. There's far worse places to come to "work."
Part of the reason is the amazing way we transform this beautiful place. How with hard work, and ingenuity, and tents, and generators, and millions of feet of electrical cords, and countless tons of pea gravel... this place is transformed from a tranquil field to a bustling city. It's incredible. Every year.
But that's not all of it. Perhaps the "brush with fame" we feel when assisting Phillip Dutton, Olympic bronze medalist, is part of it. Perhaps watching the power and grace of all our amazing equine athletes is part of it. Perhaps you just come help because then you get free admission and a good parking spot. That's certainly part of it.
But that's not all of it.
The REAL reason is YOU. And You. And also You. When I saw Sue and Charlotte happily chatting away while painting fences on Tuesday I smiled and thought, "YES. This is it. This is why." Charlotte said she hadn't seen Sue since last year, so they had a lot of catching up to do. YES. This is why. Our fence judges maybe see each other every horse trials, or maybe just every October. But when they see each other they sit down to chat. YES. This is why. I see our Frank maybe once a month, but every time I see Frank I set aside ten minutes to chat. To catch up. Because Frank makes me smile. YES. This is why.
The why hit home for me on Thursday. I was tooling around the 3* cross country course on my bike when I rode past Judy's Garden. It wasn't on the course, it was a little bit of a detour, but a compelling enough detour that I rode down, lay my bike down, and sat on wall.
I sat on a wall and I cried for a little bit. Cried for Judy. And this is IT, folks. This is why. You don't sit on a wall and shed tears, two years later, for "that person you used to work with." You just don't. But you DO shed tears for your family, no matter how many years it has been since they passed.
And THIS IS WHY. The people. ALL of you. You're my family and Fair Hill is my home. You're my dysfunctional family. We stay up too late. We do our best work at 11 PM. We give feedback, exchange ideas. We bitch, we tease. We encourage, we cheer.
We don't do it because we love the work. We do it because WE LOVE THE FAMILY.
This is why.
I took a quick detour down to Judy's Garden to pay my respects. Judy is always in our hearts and on our minds. This week, before every single picture I have posted here, I have thought "What would Judy do? Would Judy let me show this to you yet?" We miss you, Judy. The #duttafhi family is just not the same without you.