Most women go to the beautician for highlights, lowlights, maybe a deep condition. Me, I go for livestock.
There are numerous charming reasons why I know I live in a truly small town, but going in for a quick trim of the split ends and coming home with a goat surely ranks at the top.
I was flipping through a magazine waiting for my children to finish their cuts when the shop-talk naturally turned to goats. Unavoidably eavesdropping, I overhead a woman discussing the need to find a home for her goat.
As quick as you can say “wades into the conversation of others” I was interjecting the sad tale of our OWN lonely goat and our resultant quest to find him a friend. (It should be noted, for the record, that he is gelded and therefore the relationship would be strictly platonic).
Clearly an animal lover, I knew this woman would be unlikely to trust a beloved animal to just any random stranger she met at the salon. In true small town fashion I offered the names of one township trustee, a school board member and an assistant soccer coach as references.
I could have thrown in a fire marshal and a former mayor (and first-rate mechanic) but I didn’t want to brag.
Before the visit was over we were happily exchanging information like matchmaking prospective in-laws. Say what you will about the limits of small town life but I bet that kind of thing NEVER happens in Manhattan.
I have often heard people speak of living in the country and/or small town as if it is a lifestyle to which one must be born — never made. I disagree. I feel very much a part, parcel and fabric of our fine region and I am most certainly not from around here.
In fact, with only 14 years of residency under my belt, I’m practically brand new. Nonetheless, I have generally felt as accepted and connected here as I have anywhere.
This isn’t a slight to the bucolic college town of my childhood, simply a testament to the truth of “bloom where you are planted.” Never underestimate the power of assimilation.
Not a native myself, I was taken aback upon the realization that while Mr. Wonderful and I are not natives, our children are. They have never lived anywhere but this house, on this street. They are of this place.
When our native adult friends speak in memory and sentiment of the park pool or tractor day for seniors up at the high school, I can only hope that my own children will feel the same someday.
Though they may disagree during the teen years, there are certainly worse plights than growing up in a place where the biggest draw is the Friday night egg and livestock auction.
As we traveled across six of our fine United States last month, it was common for people at various stops to inquire where we were from. Upon hearing “Ohio” more than one listener felt it necessary to blurt out, or simply deadpan, “why?”
At the time, enjoying the blue skies, palm trees and balmy-for-springtime weather, we found it neighborly to simply smile and say “we ask that ourselves!”
Yet, despite the fun in the sun and the sheer wonder of the regions, the truth was that as we made our way back to this dot on the map, our daughter, exhausted, was moved to tears.
“What’s the matter honey, do you miss vacation already?” I asked. To which she replied, sobbing, “No I just want to go HOME.” As it turns out, no matter how wonderful “away” might be, home is always where your heart is.
Sure we don’t have palm trees, good surfing and many movie stars. What we have is friendly people. Granted, it’s easy to chat up just about anyone when “How about this weather?” and/or “Think it will snow?” have such universal appeal. (The answers are “wow” and “of course.)”
To be fair, we do have gorgeous weather. Ours just VARIES more than that of our balmier states. Here we have thrills (spring storms), chills (winter fun), emerald green and golden sun summers and autumn so achingly gorgeous that it takes the breath away.
Palm trees are darling but how many autumn memories are built of leaping into piles of palm fronds? So why Ohio? Why the Midwest? To this I say “why not?”
I’m sure there are good, pure-hearted, open and friendly people in every corner of this wonderful planet of ours.
I’m also pretty certain that my place at this time is here, with these people, in one little small town where going for a quick trim and remaining open to chatting up a stranger can really get your goat.
Kymberly Foster Seabolt loves experiencing four seasons (five counting “mud”). She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or www.KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com.
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