Monday, March 1, 2010

Ode to small town living

This afternoon I decided I'd had enough of my prison cell and needed to break out.

Our apartment is comfy and cozy, but after so many days of being shut in I get kind of claustrophobic. So I decided to go for a walk.

This winter has been so harsh with such low temperatures and constant snow that I haven't been out much. Andy and I have gone on a few adventures, but I don't generally get out in the cold by myself. If I leave home it's to go to the mall or some place like that. Somewhere indoors with heat is ideal.

But today is March 1st and while they are calling for snow most of this week it is just a matter of time now before the crocus start to bloom and the big thaw sets in. Spring is truly a magical time here on my mountain.

In an attempt to hurry the season along I decided to take a walk in our town park. I jumped in The Hulk and away we went.

The park was deserted of course; covered in a blanket of, mostly, undisturbed snow. The snow covering the dog park was churned up a good bit. Dogs love to frolic in the snow, but the playground equipment had been obviously untouched for a long time. The cold temps coupled with the high winds are not human friendly - especially small humans.

The walking trail was surprisingly clear with just a few spots still under cover. So I took off walking. About half way along the trail I I veered off onto a leg that leads out of the park and into town. The walking trail at the park isn't especially large and if you don't like a lot of repetitive scenery going through town is a good addition to your walk. So that's what I did. I took the extra trail and came out next to the fire department.

The brick sidewalk was there to greet me and help ease my journey. It had also been cleared for pedestrians. I love our sidewalks. It's a project the town took on several years ago as a beautification project and I think it's just what we needed. Some of the bricks were purchased and engraved with family names or memorials. They give such a nice personal touch to our streets.

Up the sidewalk I went. I said hello to the giant elk statue in front of the elementary school.

Passed several small shops with closed signs in the windows and winter hours posted next to that. Many of them make their living in the spring, summer and early fall months when the half year residents are here.

I strolled to the corner where our one street light resides and saw our little chamber of commerce. Where they sell town t-shirts and souvenirs. I went in there once with Julie to buy her bun-in-the-oven a shirt and there was the sweetest older gentleman working. He clearly didn't get a lot of visitors so we passed some time chatting with him, as if he'd known us all along. When I was ready to make my purchase I didn't have cash and he told me that they don't take credit cards. Why not? He told me that too. In the front of the shop was a giant, antique cash register. I had never seen one so big in my life. It had hundreds of buttons, and was clearly the pride of the shop.

Further I went into our sleepy town.

Past more little shops.

Family owned restaurants.

The pharmacy.

Town hall where I vote.

Back into the park with the happy little creek running through it.

I long for the days when I can sit in the bench swing with a book and watch children splashing in the creek. Early last summer when I was able to get out and off the sofa that swing was one of my favorite places to be. Andy would drive me to the park and let me limp around the trail a time or two. Then when I got tired we'd sit in the swing and just enjoy the warm weather and activity around us. It was peaceful.

Today was peaceful too. I always manage to find a little peace in my town.

Back in college I took a lot of it for granted. As far as I was concerned I was just here for a little while - just passing through like so many of my fellow students.

Then when I graduated and it was time to say goodbye the leaving was so hard. People would ask me what I was doing after college. The immediate plan was to move back in with my parents and find a job, so I would reply that I was moving home. I didn't realize it at the time but really I was moving away from home.

After Andy and I got married I moved back to the mountains, but we were in a different town. Then he was offered a full time position at the ski shop and I changed jobs and our apartment location was just too far to commute back and forth. We decided to move.. "Oh no," I though. I never would have guessed I'd find myself back in this sleepy little town.

But I did. We moved back and guess what?

It was like coming home after a long absence. I never realized how big a piece of my heart I left here when I graduated college - until I came back.

This place welcomed me back with open arms and then closed them around me in a warm embrace of friendship and community

Growing up I never thought I'd be happy in such a small little hamlet, but truthfully I'm glad to be here. I love this town and the people in it. There is something to be said about a place like this. Especially with the fast paced society we currently live in. It's a place that cares more about old fashioned cash registers than keeping up with payment trends. Where going to the local bar for a drink with friends is what qualifies for night life. Where your name is more important than your income.

It's such a small town that not many people know about it. It isn't the sort of place that people know about unless they have been here.

Occasionally I come across a person who has visited.

A couple of years ago I met just such a person. It was not too long after Andy and I had moved back. I was in Raleigh visiting Julie and one of the ladies in her church asked me where I lived. "Banner Elk," I replied. Her face lit up and she said, "Oh! Lucky you!"

Yes. Lucky me.

1 comment:

  1. I love it! I am going to post on FB!