Sunday, April 17, 2011
But it does not seem to understand it is mid-April, or that this is the week of Easter, time for the crocus and tulips to be coming up to herald the arrival of Resurrection Sunday.
On other days the endless expanse of white outside my window, howling prairie blizzards, and feeling of being cooped up make me want to rise on wings like an eagle and fly from here for a time. To find somewhere warm.
But it is never permanent.
I am always drawn back to being HERE.
I am a blessed woman.
I live in a place where time has been kind to the inhabitants of my town. People often grew up together (which can be good and can be really bad), knowing their neighbors and their parents, and their grandparents. Life moves at a slower pace here, with people parking opposite ways on the street (mind you, this is the middle of Main street) just to shoot the breeze and catch up as they are in the middle of Spring planting. Where we used to come from someone would have gotten out the tire iron and proceeded to beat the other driver's melon in as they became frustrated with being stopped in the street only 10 feet from the stop sign. Here, people just honk and wave, driving around...or...they get out of their cars and join the conversation.
My town has the twice daily distinction of the "Old Liars Club" that meets at the local gas station/ restaurant for a cup of coffee and taking a break from whatever it is they are doing otherwise. You can sure learn a lot at that meeting. (Sometimes too much!) But Kurt loves going there and I have been priviledged to meet some of those men while running errands around town, who nod their heads and smile, and then my babies reach out for them and I know what club they belong to (ha!). Kurt loves to take all three girls with him when he gets the chance on his days off, and those gruff old guys just melt when my little ones pat their scrubby faces with baby hands. As for my oldest, well, she's just one of the club...
Our town is the kind of place that when you pull up into the drive-thru at the bank not only do they know your name and ask how things are going (because they really want to know), they dont even ask if you want suckers for the kids, they are just there in the envelope...and there is always an extra one just for you. (Purple for me, red for Kurt) And when you drive away you glance in your mirror to see two other cars waiting...and again, those people are just smiling, waiting their turn, not ready to take down your license plate and hunt you down to egg your car later. :)
Then there is the neighbor down the street, an older man, who, when his kids took away the keys to his car, decided he didnt need a car...he would drive the lawnmower to wherever he needed to go in town. It is missing-a-muffler-loud, backfires occasionally (especially, it seems, when he is passing my house and the twins are napping), and heralds the warming of temps around here since he only drives it in the Spring through the fall. But he looks so happy as he drives past my house and waves I cant help but smile. Lemonade from lemons, right?
It is a lovely place, my town.
Of all the places we have been in the almost 14 years of our marriage, I have grown to love it here deep down in my soul.
I understand from some of the locals that some of the "other" locals think I'm a little batty. After all, the winters are harsh, the wind never stops blowing, and you know...stores really do close for the night at 8pm on the dot. You cant order pizza delivered to your house in my town, and most of them have never tried (or even heard of) Thai food, so that is out too.
If you want to actually leave your house to rent a movie, you have to go down to the local gas station (which actually is one of only two small restaurants in town if you dont count the bar). Saturday night is Polka night on TV, or in the dance barns, and it is thoroughly enjoyed by many. If you dont have dish or satellite, and you are bored, you just might find yourself looping around the room doing a polka step with your children while the music plays on PBS.
Neither Kurt or I come from a farming background, and neither one of us has long lost cousins who live here or came from here eons ago. We dont own a business here that would keep us here (I am assuming when they say that, in a particular tone of increduality, that they think we would flee screaming otherwise). Most people our age have truly fled for the big towns, to make a good wage, take a step up in life, and raise their kids with more "opportunities".
But you see, Kurt and I want our kids to grow up in a town like this. We want them to know the neighbors and feel free to stop in the middle of the street and chat with an old friend they havent seen for a few months. We want them to grow up knowing that community is important, and when someone is down and out, you reach out a hand and help, whether that is changing a tire, or stopping in at a bake sale for a family who just lost their mother at 35 to cancer. Even if you dont know them. We want them to know what it is to grow up with the same pack of friends from gradeschool to adulthood, to call each other crazy names they gave one another in middle school, and not think anything of it when they are 35 or older.
We want them to sink down roots...deep deep roots...and know that there are still some places in this quickly changing world that move slowly. And that is ok. That sometimes the most precious and priceless things you can have in life are not things that can be measured by a yardstick, or a bank statement.
I am delighted to say that God closed all the other doors for us this week and made it very clear that this is now OUR town. This is where we will buy a home, raise our kids, sink our roots and thrive, pouring our hearts and lives into this community and its people. We will bless as we have been blessed in this town, and forge bonds that we hope our children and grandchildren will continue.
We promise to talk in the middle of the street when someone flags us down, or borrow sugar from the neighbors (after a nice long chat because they are lonely and their police scanners are on the fritz). We promise to learn the difference between the farmer's one finger wave, and the regular wave (which insults him because we dont recognize he is a farmer) and use it accordingly. We promise we will begin to look at our pets as animals and not insult the neighborhood (and the pets) by dressing them in ridiculous outifts and taking them on walks like our children. We will continue to love the fact that it is a GOOD thing that there are only stop signs in town and not wonder if there is ever going to be a stop light at a certain corner.
We will raise our kids to be good citizens, to love this country and not take for granted their freedom that their friends' parents, and others' sons and daughters have given their lives for. To explain to our children what the white and red banners with blue stars hanging in so many windows down here stand for, and to pray for those families each time we pass their homes.
We will teach them that the nursing home/assisted living facility in town is not a place to be ignored or regarded with dread, but a place where lonely men and women love to have young children come and sing or talk to them, just for a while, since those people miss their own grandchildren and great-grandchildren (who live far away). That those people have amazing stories, and love to talk about them if you will just give them a smidgen of your time. That to love and honor those people is important, and something Christ would have us do.
We promise we will teach them to celebrate the Fourth of July in fine style and stand proudly, hand over heart, when the local veterans march by with the American flag during our annual town parade, even if there is "just one more" piece of candy staring at them from three feet away on the pavement.
We will learn the unwritten rules of a community that we love with all of our hearts, and the people who make it such a great place to live.
And just as that snow is going to melt and all the flowers are going to bloom because their roots are sunk deep to a place the cold can not touch them, so our family will sink our roots down, and thrive and expand, making this our hometown...and be proud of it.