This week I drove the eight blocks to our clinic and talked to our friendly staff about business and how to improve it. After that I walked next door to the hair stylist for a trim. I needed to cash a check, so I walked across the street to the bank, then went back across the street to the pharmacy (I needed the exercise). The grocery store, a block away, I drove to, because I didn't want to haul bags of groceries across the street through the busy traffic--at least four cars pass there every minute. Okay, maybe not that many, but it is a main thoroughfare.
We live and work in a tiny town of 1282 citizens. This is where I graduated from high school, and when I left I thought I'd never return. So much for plans. During the winter months when the trees are bare, I can see my alma mater, the lights from the grocery store, the house of one of my best friends from high school from our hilltop home. My neighbor uses our extra garage to park her car during bad weather. Other neighbors mow our yard when we don't get to it quickly enough, and sometimes they'll gather limbs from our yard.
When some kids moved into the duplex a block from us and started playing loud music and partying and hollering and screaming, disturbing our quiet community late one Saturday night, another of our neighbors paid them a friendly visit. He can be big and intimidating if a stranger sees him and doesn't know he's a softie. Since the police department wasn't on duty that night, our neighbor took care of things.
Ever wonder what it's like to live in a small town? When it comes to writing, that's where my heart lies. It's actually all I know except for the year I lived in the city. From our sunroom, where I write, I can see the steers one of our neighbors raises every couple of years for beef. I can hear the roosters crow from the hillside next to ours, and can see horses and cattle out in the field to the south, because we live on the edge of town.
Everybody does know everyone else's business, and that's uncomfortable for some. For others, it's soothing to know others care. I get together with several girlfriends from high school every few months, and we try to get away for a weekend every year. This year we're looking forward to our class reunion--and no, I'm not telling you which one. I'm not sure I remember, myself. That's the fun, though, of growing up in a small community where the classes are tiny enough that everyone knows everyone else. You grow close to those people.
The picture above was taken at a local place called Jolly Mill. It was once called the Village of Jollification because in the 1800s there was a distillery there as well as grain mill. It has been mentioned that the name of the town was shortened to Jolly Mill because it's hard to say the longer name when one has partaken of the results of the distillery. Now it's a privately owned park, a beautiful place with rich history, and which I have been populating into a small town with my latest novels.
Long live small towns, where neighbors are interested in one another--good or bad--and life tends to move a little slower than in the rest of the country. Rush hour is five cars backed up at the railroad tracks. It's the only life for me. What are some of the charms of your hometown?
Labels: bucolic places, historical places, small town life