Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don't Call Me Ishmael

My husband and I are looking for a new place to live. 
After being in my hometown for 33 years, it is hard to imagine living anywhere else.  I've travelled quite a bit , and have had many opportunities to move elsewhere, but I've never felt the need for a long term adventure that would take me away from home.  Maybe I watched Gone with the Wind too many times as a girl, and the idea of the land I live on being like my mother was taken to heart. I do have a drop of Irish blood, so it is possible I get it honest.
Ishmael confessed that, “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”  We all get "grim about the mouth" from time to time, but when it happens to me, I take a drive in the country.  I love the scenery here: rolling hills, dotted with quiet farms, blanketed with winter wheat, decorated with the bluest chicory, delicate Queen Anne's Lace and cheerful daisies.  I love the lonely gnarled trees in empty pastures and the air fragranced with sweet cornfields at night.  Driving down the winding curves of  Bloom Road, always hidden away by the cover of trees, warms the November in my soul right up.
Part of the comfort I find here is in the local traditions. We take pride in supporting local businesses.  There is an amazing local creamery, Hoffman's, that is the only place to respectably get your ice cream.  Breakfast at Baugher's, our favorite country restaurant, always includes freshly baked pie made from the fruit grown in their orchard.  The steaks bought from Bullock's, the local butcher, would put any New York City steakhouse to shame.  Rediciously enormous smoked holiday hams must come from Hann's, who also happens to roast their own coffee beans, creating an aroma in their little store that is intoxicating. These businesses are all named for the families who own and run them and most of us are on a first name basis with them, so to shop is to visit.  Another one of our traditions is organizing a parade for EVERYTHING!  Together, the whole town lines Main Street to celebrate whatever the occasion, eating cookies and drinking cocoa provided by one of the local churches, listening to the municipal band while the 4-H Pork Princess proudly waves from a fire truck, followed by miniature horses and familiar children, dressed like dancing books and crayons, encouraging us all to visit the local library.  These traditions form a web of close relationships that keep our kids out of trouble and our manners in check.  Everyone who grew up here has heard the words, "If I ever catch you doing/saying that again, I'll call your mother/father!" Everyone here has a story about choosing to be polite after being frustrated by a stranger's actions, only to find out later that the same person was their mortgage broker or their child's teacher.  Our community is our crew and when you live in close quarters and are bound to run into or need someone again, you learn to get along. 
While reading Moby Dick, I wondered if being surrounded by the open ocean ever became banal to the men aboard the Pequod, but I think they must have felt the same way about going out to sea as I feel about being home.  For those of us who have stayed long enough to know the land as well as our families, we know that the landscape, like the waves and sea creatures lovingly observed by Ishmael, is in a constant state of change. I've never gotten over the beauty of the land and the idea of leaving my home feels like being cast out to sea, bringing with it drizzly November.

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