Small Town WIsedom

Old roads, old dogs, old folks and old ways still have a lot to offer in this sped-up world we all live in. 

Most everyone’s life is a hustle and bustle of getting things done every day, mine is no exception, but the last 6 weeks have been incredibly busy for me. Not with the ‘normal ‘ busy that we all deal with, but with some once in a life time sort of things that require an extra bit of energy and thought.  My schedule has been filled with graduations,  and weddings that required travel, preparing my daily life to go back to work next month (finally!!) and on top of that I have had  Covid,  lost two weeks in quarantine,  and  have moved my mother from an apartment into an assisted living facility that is located about a   12 hour drive from where I live.   

This morning as I lay sleeping on the floor of my mother’s new space, I listened to the sounds of  the midwestern farm town silence and it gave me pause.  Forgotten childhood peace washed over me; thoughts of rest and clarity, the smells of wet grass and farm dirt, and a longing for the comfort and community of small town life. 

I grew up in a tiny little town in the mid-west, where everyone knew their neighbors and their neighbor’s families.  Farmers met in town for coffee and talked about the weather and the crop prices, the high school football game last Friday, and the upcoming city council meetings.  We put our hands on our hearts and said the pledge of allegiance, flew American flags and knew how to fold them.  Families gathered with each other during summer celebrations on main street, and brought food to the homes of those suffering sickness and loss,  attended card clubs and  girl scouts, parades and church picnics, pancake feeds, and spaghetti suppers to raise money for worthy causes and organizations. We knew each other’s needs and each other’s business. As kids we could run and play outside and all over town without worry because without our knowing, the watchful eyes of the entire town were peeking through the lace curtains to see what we were doing.  We were safe. We were free to be kids. We were the lifeblood  and future of our small hometown.   

 My little home town seems so much smaller now. It IS smaller now. What few businesses are left there are struggling and a little rundown,  and most of the people I knew have passed away or moved on, but the heart of the town is still there; the sense of community and pride, the love and care for each other, the compassion to help and to laugh together. Kids still ride their bikes in the street and play kickball on the church lawn while watched secretly from someone’s kitchen window.  Society has changed the pattern of life, but the people here really haven’t.

This trip has brought me back home, to hear the stories of the mid-western women who are residents in this facility and to refresh my soul. I am encouraged and uplifted, my faith in people has been restored. I am reminded that we all really desire the same things out of life; comfort in community, compassion to receive and to give, satisfaction in a good day’s work, pride for our home and our schools, and a desire to wake every day knowing that we are safe and loved.  

I currently live in a mid-sized city.  I know most of the people who live in my neighborhood, but not many outside of that small area. By saying ” I know them”, means I know their names, and a little bit about their families or their jobs, but I don’t really KNOW them. I am involved in social circles and activities with  my church and with my place of employment , but other than that I don’t have a sense of belonging in the city itself.  I wonder about people who live in really large cities and if  the lives they live are connected with neighbors and community beyond where they lay their heads at night. I imagine they are. I imagine that people everywhere want to wake to the feeling of safety and connection with those around them.  So why do we have all the frantic chaos happening in  our nation if we all want the same things? 

I seriously do not want to go deep here. I know there are many problems that need to be fixed and issues that are complicated and weigh heavily on our leaders. I know that there are people suffering and neglected, angry and disenfranchised.  I don’t want to appear callous or to de-value the situations that are mountains before us, but I do want to make the point that we ALL are climbing the same mountain, and we ALL want to reach the summit.  How do we get there?  I think we need to look to the wisdom of the small town. We need to sit down, and shut up, and listen to the common sense that flows freely around the table of the farmers having coffee, listen to the remembrances from those that have been seasoned with age and experience and from those stories gain insight and focus. We need to go back to our roots and search our histories for the things that worked, and remember why they did. We need a resurgence of  the small town way of life to permeate society. While we advance in our technologies and our economies into the future, we need to anchor and center ourselves on the past. We need to build upon those that have gone before us. As a society, we need to learn from their mistakes, and utilize their successes, not erase or deny them.  We must remember the bad and the good and become stronger because of it. Small towns are the heart of America and I am so thankful that I have the blood of midwestern, hard working, fresh air loving, neighborhood watching, common sense filled,  flag waving, community loving  ancestors running through my veins. 

I am thankful for these crazy six weeks. I am even thankful for the Covid quarantine. I was forced to put on my brakes and slow down.  And then a return to my home town and a few days with some wonderfully wise, strong and interesting, retired mid-western, salt of the earth women,  to fill me with a renewed perspective. 

Small town.

Home town.

Farm town.

My town.


1 thought on “Going Home

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