My Town

Driving down the road I noticed the green leaves getting bigger and brighter by the day. Unleashed by the warm weather and gentle rains, the earth is alive with tulips, lilies of the valley, daffodils and flowering crab apples. Laughing, playing some combination of touch (with a little tackle) football, they only stopped long enough to move out of the road for the car. More were riding their bikes with baseball gloves & bats slung over their shoulders. Enjoying life in safety with freedom that few children today are able to experience. Kids on Sunday afternoon in my town.

Yep. My town.
For 18 years now (since April 25, 1992) this sleepy little Iowa village has been my town.
Slow paced…there’s only a handful of stops signs and no lights in our town.
Odd habits…like the whistle that blows at 7 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 6p.m. every day.
Quirky people…like the man who rides his ancient bike at a poky pace everywhere-winter, spring, summer and fall-…or the neighbor who mows her lawn at least 3 times a week…or the guy who named his illness “Arthur”.
We notice when something’s different in our village…a change in someones house, a new vehicle, a new resident, visiting family.
We know one anothers habits. Like when we saw our elderly neighbors kids at her home on a Sunday morning when they’d normally be at church, we knew there was something wrong.
We know who runs in the morning and who runs everyday at 6 pm…we know the guy with the dogs.
We know who to call when we need advice with our plumbing or we want to know how to can applesauce or freeze sweet Iowa corn.
Emergency vehicle sirens are a rarity and usually cause for concern. No airplanes flying overhead, just a host of birds. The loudest noise we hear day or night, is the whirr of the dryers at the grain elevator.
I’ve witnessed this community come together to support people with ill children, people who’ve suffered loss and experienced tragedy. When it was time for a new library, the community united.
We still have a little parade to honor our veterans. We celebrate Flag day. And we make a big deal out of a new local swimming pool. Churches observe Lent together and share Vacation Bible Schools and youth groups.
Not everything in my town is perfect. I’ve witnessed abuse in this little town. I’ve seen marriages fall apart and families decimated. I’ve been judged in this town for how I live. I’ve felt like I didn’t and would never fit in this small town.

But, then, do any of us fit anywhere?

There are days I’d give anything for a ten minute drive to Target (the nearest one is over an hour) or more choices in restaurants or simply anonymity.
But I’d be giving up so much if I left my little town.

No, my town is worth more than convenience.
And thankfully, after 18 years, I’ve embraced this quirky little midwest town with all it’s oddities, absurdities, joys and see the richness of community that it holds so dear.

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