I was at my favorite coffee place today, and everybody was talking about the cooler weather. Well, it is October, and we do live in the mountains of North Carolina, so I suppose it's obvious that we're going to feel a chill in the air. But that's not the point. People always talk about the weather no matter how obvious the change. It's what we do as humans, particularly as small-town humans. We have opinions and observations about everything from weather to politics to who bought the old farm off Crab Creek Road. It's who we are. Inquistive, sometimes prying, but always interested in people and events around us.
Now if you've read any of my earlier blogs, you know I haven't always lived in a small town. I'm a recent transplant from a big city - recent going on eight years, that is. And although I'm not part of one of the local families who go back ten or more generations, I feel I'm fully vested in my town, and can speak with authority on what makes us locals tick - that is, what inspires us to live where we do and be who we are. It's no mystery, of course. There's no cipher to work out. You see, we just plain LIKE ourselves here. We enjoy each other. And when I say enjoy, I mean it in a sincere way, in a community way that speaks of commitment, fellowship and support. Do I mean we are churchgoers? Sure, many of us are devout, and some are closely defined by religion. But the above qualities also reside outside of church membership. Our commitment to each other can be found everywhere - in our local government, our music and arts community, our small businesses, our college and schools, and our many volunteers who donate time and money to sponsor activities for the library, the hospital, and most particularly, the children. We are small enough to know what needs doing and to fill the gaps where we can.
So, as Fall breaks out, bringing brisk temperatures and reminding us that Winter is on the way, living in a small town is a good place to be. And I especially like how people get into the spirit of the season: visitors coming in from surrounding states to enjoy the explosion of color across our mountains; corn stalks decorating Main Street for Halloween and costumed shopkeepers passing out candy to the kids; people gathering under a profusion of twinkling lights to enjoy our Christmas parade and all the food and camaraderie of the season. It is this time of year when I feel happiest living where I do, feeling a spirit of a place much more profoundly than I did during my urban years.
Do I miss the cultural diversity of big city life - the dining opportunities, entertainment venues, major league sports teams? Not really. Life is full of stages, isn't it? We pass through the years and soak up what we want; discard what we don't. Choice is a big part of living, after all, maybe the biggest part. In the early stage of my life, big city life was important, brought me a career, marraige and family. It was where I needed to be. But my perspective shifted, and everything changed. BIGness was no longer important. SMALLness took over...and I'm very happy it did.
Happy Fall, everybody!