Journeying in town

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The former Allen Cider Mill rests at the bottom of Mountain Road. Photo by C.J. Gibson

Riding around our town is quite an experience. During a days’ journey, one observes all sorts of things. Lots of people, events,and goings on, and the humanity and complexity of our simple hamlet continues to amaze and endear it to me. For instance, there are new homes being built in several locations. Some are rentals, some are planned developments, and a few are new single dwellings. What amazes me is how many there are, considering the population of our town.

Then, as I journey through the day, I also see many of the smaller, older homes, where folks have settled in, yards are well treed, and lawns are long established. These look comfortable, well lived in, even charming to me. Such a contrast to some of the newer neighborhoods, perhaps a bit warmer and welcoming. Maybe, I think, in a few years, folks who come to occupy the newer places will have time to “settle in” and their new homes will add to the charm that is our town. This will take time, and so I am not worried, but rather intrigued. I hear the concerns voiced by some, but I feel that time will make things right, and our town will persevere by expanding on the culture and charm set in motion by past generations.

As I journey north and west, the farms and hills take my thoughts away to an older time. The Cossitt Library; the property that once was Allen’s Cider Mill; the many fields that still are a beautiful part of the town. Some house horses, some house cattle. Folks who ride along on my daily travels often share stories of “way back when” and give incredible details of what our town was like during those times. I love listening and imagining when the town was very rural, peaceful, and inviting to those who came here.

I tell myself that with so much history and culture at its foundation, our town will sustain, and be charming in a new way in the years ahead. I feel very positive about this, and it makes my daily travels go smoothly.

The people of our town are varied and unique. There are farmers, ranchers, builders, businesspeople, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and others. For infrastructure, we have a working town government, a solid school system, the usual amount of town politics, boards for all kinds of things, and dedicated community servants and elected officials. From the cultural side, we are blessed with community activists and citizens who do care. There are so many ways to nourish the soul, like libraries and land trust hiking trails. There are clubs and organizations that form a solid basis for our folks to gather and invest in their lives in the town. I suppose there are many towns like ours, but this one feels like a warm coat on a chilly day. When all around the world we learn about horrible and tragic events, it feels wrong to ride around town and not see it for the blessings that it provides.

This is not to say that we are without our challenges and our problems. Each day during my journey, I observe situations that need support, folks that are fighting hard to make it to tomorrow, and spirits that may need buoying. I am amazed and encouraged at the strength and tenacity that so many have, how resilient they are, and how strong their spirits remain. I believe and understand that this basic quality is what has strengthened our town over the years.  Indeed, one must believe that it will continue to do so, as we grow and move into the next years.

When you journey around town, take time to observe the goings on. Look carefully at the crews that work on our intersection in the center. Notice the folks that are using the new sidewalks, and imagine what their days are like. Think about the new residents that may occupy our town in the coming years.

Think about the business owners who have made it convenient for us to shop, dine out, get our cars serviced, or even build a new home here. Value the folks who continue to work the land, make places for us to walk, read, and live safely.  And of course, think of those who take care of others in our town. They are heroes. They don’t ask for anything in return for their giving.  Many are volunteers, providing food, emergency/ social services, devoting countless hours to helping our kids, seniors, and really, all of us.

I hope that you will take time to make some mini journeys around our town. I have to say, it’s really a great trip! Bon Voyage…