I grew up in a Small Town. There was a bank and a pizza place, and four churches. A tiny MCC. An insurance office. And a unit on the corner of the one three-way-stop, that since the antique place closed down, has changed hands every time I drive by. My parents live in the house I grew up in, and my sister and her family four houses down from them.
I love living in the city for a million reasons. But there is something about going back to my Small Town. Yarrow Days is the annual town carnival. The parade, exactly the same as I remember it, with the fire truck and- a new addition- the Sikh Motorcycle Club. And never quite enough candy, and the children bolting into the street to catch it. Running into old, old friends and acquaintances who all tell me how much I look like my sister. The sticky hands of my nieces and nephews dragging me around the park from game to game and ecstatically shrieking about the prizes they pick, and then storing them in my bulging pockets. There are equal parts cotton candy, farmer sausage, bienenstich and samosas.
There is watching the kids as they pour into the half-acre backyard (which all the people on our street have) and burst into the playhouse my father built for us to look like the old house down the street. They pick blueberries straight off the bush and stain their hands (and clothes) purple. Tractors and horses use the main road here. And if you get caught behind them, you just suck it up, because really, they make your food. If you're lucky you get caught behind a fruit or vegetable truck, and you pull over and pick up the cobs of corn that bounce off and bring them home for dinner.
Nobody ever pays for zucchini or rhubarb here, because someone's garden is always overflowing with it, and they bring you a bucket. At night, it is so, so quiet. And there are stars and stars and stars.