And there, in the dark, I smiled.

It caught my attention as I left the fairgrounds, blanket draped over my arm and the night at my back.

It was not the lights blinking from the rides, splashing color across the night.  They swirled through the dark, emitting childish squeals of joy and screams of the kind of fright that tingles and thrills young limbs.

It was not the smells from the concessions, taking in a few last customers before closing up for the night.  Hot beefs and hot dogs lingering under the grandstand, cotton candy and popcorn at the gate, pizza smiling from behind food truck glass, elephant ears being pulled, crisp, from the fryer.

It was not the long line at the ice cream vendor that I visit every year.  I stopped there earlier – chocolate-y creamy goodness slid down my throat and candy pieces crunched beneath my teeth.  But I was full now.  The line did not need me.

It was not the rumble of souped-up tractors and trucks climbing onto the patient backs of waiting trailers.  They had done their duty already tonight, pulling a weighted sled down the track while a grandstand full of eyes looked on and leaned forward at the finish.

It was not the light pouring out from the barns, where the pigs sprawled sleepily in their pens and the cows chewed contemplatively at their cuds.  The animals settled down to sleep while some of their youthful owners played tag in the show arena.

It was not the people passing by, a large inflatable hammer tucked under one arm, a corn dog in the other hand, a child in a stroller nodding off to sleep.  Teenagers fingering the money burning holes in their pockets, ready to be spent here at the fair, the final bit of fun before school starts.

No.  It was none of these things, special as they are.

It was two trees; tall, majestic, standing against a blackened sky.  The sidewalk lights lit them from below and the stars lit them from above.

Two quiet, stalwart beauties in a swirl of noise –

they caught my attention.

And there,

in the dark,

I smiled.