ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Does your town have a theme?

© Another Day in the Country

The other day I heard about a town in Iowa where almost everyone does yoga and they all like to meditate. I was amazed. They have a meditation center in town. Businesses adjust their hours to make room for meditation. They have yoga classes in the park and in the schools.

“Wow,” I said to my sister, “maybe we should move there.”

She laughed. I rarely sit and meditate and my yoga practice is spasmodic compared to hers. She had good reason to be skeptical about my enthusiasm.

“Maybe it would rub off,” I said sheepishly. “Really. It would be a positive influence.”

Another town I heard about is back east and they are all communicating in one way or another with spirits. Quite a lot of people come there on a quest seeking news of a loved one, or they are just curious and come like tourists. There’s a lot of commonality in town. They hold workshops.

It got me to thinking about what people in my town like to do. I searched for a single thread of influence, something most everyone enjoyed. Beer. I think, although I don’t know for sure, that probably most of the people in my town enjoy a nice cold beer. It’s one of the reasons that the old timers missed having a café in town that served beer. If you asked folks in my town what they’d do to “chill out” it would be to have a beer. Most everyone likes beer. It’s a unifier.

By contrast, I was raised in a non-drinking family. I tried beer as an adult and I don’t like the taste of it. Some of my cousins have attempted to introduce me to different kinds of beer that I might like — none of it was really worth swallowing. The only time you’ll find me buying a six-pack of beer is when I’m mixing up a batch of plant fertilizer. According to the master gardener on public television, beer is good for the soil, activating degeneration, which according to my observation is what it also does to a good conversation.

When I moved to a rural community, I thought that pretty much all my neighbors would be into gardening. I remembered the days when Uncle Hank and Betty would try to grow the earliest tomatoes. Maybe it was on Lake Woebegon that I got the idea that small town folk loved sharing their produce. Aunt Naomi did tell me that at her church gardeners would bring tomatoes by the sack full and leave them in non-gardeners cars.

Gardeners have dwindled in Ramona. The hot HOT weather hasn’t helped. There is no plethora of tomatoes to share or bushels of zucchini to squander.

We still mow lawns in Ramona. I think people in my town enjoy mowing. I’ve always loved mowing lawns and especially once I got a riding mower. I thought perhaps it was genetic. We used to tease Dad about mowing his pastures. When I got my Gravely mower I was in heaven. It used to be that lawn mowing was contagious in Ramona — one mower would start up on a Saturday morning and pretty soon you could hear their comrades starting up all over town — not so much anymore.

As I continued to hunt for a common thread in our town, I discovered keeping stuff. We have quite a few collectors and here I fit in rather well. Although, I don’t collect stuff in my yard, I’m what you’d call a closeted collector. I have a heck of a lot of stuff in the garage that I hold on to with an “I may need that,” slogan painted on the side of the box, figuratively if not literally.

I’ve always wanted to live with a bunch of folk who liked to cooperate — you know, the Mayberry RFD Model; but I’ve discovered cooperation is hard to come by in small towns — they seem to get much more excited about fighting. All you have to do is look at television to discover that quarrelling and killing get the highest ratings.

But it’s another day in the country and exciting things are happening. Tampa was able to form a committee to improve and plan for the future of their little town. Now there’s a unifying theme! They have a group of up-beat cooperative members and I’m so impressed by all the progress happening there in that little town — among other things, they have a new little health club, a beautician setting up shop in town and a cooperative grocery is opening this month: Whooopee! and Congratulations!

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