I meet a friend mid-way between her town and mine in a town the size of a walnut that neither of us know.
The kind of place where you can buy a summer dress, ice cream and a box of worms in the same store. Time-saving ingenuity, this, and sadly lacking in larger urban centres.
My friend brings her dog, a border collie named Becky, whose goal, given the amount of attention she gives the trees and hydrants, is to pretty much own the town.
We wander through the cemetery (where it always feels too weird to take pictures) and talk about people who come to tend their loved one’s graves and those who don’t and how it’s impossible to judge these things.
A reminder about judgment generally.
I tell her about a certain Olive and Burt, who now reside in the ground side by side but for years it was just Olive that was buried and her plot was never without the most beautiful arrangements, Bird of Paradise, that kind of thing. I’d notice them when I went to visit my sister there. Then one day the flowers stopped. Soon after Burt’s name was added to the headstone.
Here people leave more ‘things’ than flowers and I wonder why that is. Stuffed animals, a yellow toy truck, one of those windmilly doodads you hold up as you run and it flutters… I wonder at the stories behind them all. My favourite is the solar powered dog light. No story required.
We walk down side streets where the houses are made for jewellery’d windows…
…and the porches for sitting a while.
And if you’re wondering where all the flamingos went, they’re here in this walnut-sized town.
We walk across Becky’s newly christened bridge…
… past places no one has the heart to tear down but which I would love to see used and maintained before they fall down.
There’s a gas station, a grocery store, a place to sit outside and eat fish and chips, a shady corner to park the cars…
…and a bakery that opens at 5 a.m. to feed farmers and town workers and people driving into the city, and people who come in later too, people who’ve known each other close to forty years and still don’t run out of things to say, who come to do nothing at all except wander in this nut-sized town and eat freshly baked cheese bread with a few deli slices on the side…