I read a quote this week by a fellow small town girl who said, I love the city but the country feeds my soul. Love that. It's exactly how I feel.
Blog statistics tell me that a good number of you folks who read my blog are in urban areas. And if there's one thing Miss Marple and those Mitford books taught us, it's that many of us secretly pine for a cozy, quiet country house where neighbors know neighbors and the "good ole days" aren't so far gone. So over the next week, I thought I'd share with you a little about hometown life. It's still alive and well, you know. So here's the first story: a basket for Betty.
Betty, of course, is the neighbor who lost her house to a fire on Sunday. Betty is nearly 80, with snow white hair and crinkly blue eyes. I liked her as soon as I met her... probably because she knew Ms. Freeman and could tell me stories about my house. Stories from WWII and the days when the Blue Moon Cafe, a long-dark diner, was the happening place. I can't imagine what it's like to live in the same place forever, but Betty can.
My friend JoAnne, the one who lives next to Betty, and I were talking about this yesterday. We were gingerly crawling around the burned-out ruin of Betty's home, trying to find something to salvage and give back to her. We'd dig a little and then just stare at the shell of a home that housed so many memories and moments. In the end, all we could find were four cast iron pots and an old doorknob. JoAnne took the doorknob... she's going to clean it up and put flowers in it for Betty. I agreed to try to scrub the rust off the pots and reseason them.
Tomorrow's a big day. The city is bringing a dumpster to Betty's home and crews of people around town are pitching in to help tear everything down and haul it away. JoAnne and Lori (another neighbor) and I are doing lunch for everyone... chicken and tuna salad sandwiches, potato salad, desserts, cold drinks. Then we'll roll up our sleeves and start hauling, too.
But Betty. This morning Millie and I found her outside her house, crying. She needs everything, she said, but seemed especially sorry to lose her coat, her Bibles, and all her gardening tools. I couldn't afford a coat and can't replace a family Bible, but I did fly to the store for some toiletries and some hand-held garden tools. As I was unloading the car, a friend pulled up with an enormous cut glass bowl and a covered glass cake stand. These are for Betty, she said. And please consider coming to the food pounding we're having for her next week.
So. Hometown life? It's knowing all your neighbors. It's everyone pitching in when a neighbor loses all she has. It's cleaning crews and cut glass bowls and tuna sandwiches and toilet paper and canned goods. It's crying and praying with people in their front yards when they've lost everything, then inviting them in for coffee and muffins.
We all need a little more hometown life, no matter our address.
I love the city but the country feeds my soul....