Friday, December 09, 2005

Pixie sticks

In ten days I've gone from removing a lawn full of fallen leaves to arranging for a snow plow to remove a foot of snow from my driveway. Welcome winter. This is the time everyone starts complaining about the weather. When they learn of our plans to be away in Mexico for the whole winter they remark on how fortunate we are to get away from this.

But knowing I'm going for so long a period softens my outlook on my dreary, climate-challenged town. I'm noticing its charms. I know it's on the dull side. It lacks beauty and inspiration but it is well-intentioned. I like that somebody somewhere in town is trying hard to fill a particular need. I get in my car and within a 1-mile radius somebody is ready to provide a service that makes my life managable and comfortable.

I like that the tellers at my little neighborhood bank let my daughter sit up on the counter when we dump our coins out for deposit and that sometimes they waive the charge for a cashier's check with a wink. I like that we have a real shoe cobbler on Main street, (I think he's an immigrant from Eastern Europe) who charges me five dollars to repair the buckle my puppy chewed off a shoe while I wait. I like that Hobby Lobby is next door to Office Depot which is across from Einstein Brothers so that I can buy photo frames and Christmas ornaments then walk next door for printer ink and photo paper before I buzz across for a cappuccino.

I like that when it snows the city sends out a brigade of snowplows that come rumbling one after another like Sherman tanks. I like that our homespun mayor, a former electrician, has for years faithfully lit up nearly every yard in his neighborhood at Christmas. The display is of legendary proportion that brings carloads of onlookers every December.

I like that we have a yoga studio across from a chiropractor's office: somebody's looking out for my back. I think it's cute that we have an old establishment named the Cake Pan, a small shop that stocks all the goods needed to make and decorate cakes. Even though the hobby doesn't interest me I can respect a small business that has survived two decades serving a single purpose--bringing cake to the world.

I think it's interesting how the components are all here in my little town, excuse me, city, it calls itself. I like to imagine an organizational meeting years ago where everyone assigned themselves tasks: "Okay, me and Bob will be the bankers, you girls can run the hair salons, you guys open a grocery market, you two--we need veterinarians, some of you, police... the rest of you, school teachers!" Somehow (okay, it's market forces, I know) everything falls into place. But if you think about it for more than a minute you have to marvel at the levels at work here. Just go somewhere like where I'm headed. There when a manhole cover goes missing somebody just props a painted tire over the hole to warn people not to fall in. Okay, well somebody did paint the tire. There's some level of cooperation at work there.

So goodbye for now my little city. I don't imagine my absense will alter the balance in any way. Kind of like removing one pixie stick from the pile--the rest still hold position. But I'll miss my place just a little.

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