Sunday, July 12, 2009

Little towns and stealing chard and hope

The little towns that are about 20 miles apart all seem the same. The downtowns consist of a couple of blocks of mostly empty storefronts. There are a couple (or more) antique-junk stores, maybe a Subway and a Curves. There are the usual fast food restaurants on the outskirts of town. An IGA. Everyone must go to the regional WalMarts for things like clothing or houseware items.

Our little town of Greenville has a beautiful college campus - Greenville College, established in 1892. It has been fairly deserted this summer, but in the mornings I see several cars parked along a side street so I know that some classes are taking place. I heard that they offer several online classes. The tennis court gets a lot of action.

On campus, next to the bookstore, there is Jo's Java, a little coffee shop. It is the nicest little place, making the best lattes around. (Forget the things at McDonald's that they call latte.) It is not open much, and there is never anyone there when it is open. I wish that it was open all the time. Maybe when the students come in mid-August. I wonder just where the students congregate in this town other than Jo's.

My neighbors are on vacation this week. I was just getting to know them and I miss them. They are Mennonites (I knew that there was something special about them). The father is a Chemistry teacher at the college. The Swiss Chard in their garden is ready to pick, and I wonder if picking it is considered stealing? Last night I picked 3 of the giant leaves that were beginning to wilt.

I am going to Edwardsville. It is 40 miles away, but I want to go to a grocery store where I can get sparkling water. What an elitist I am. THey have bottled water here - they have bottled water everywhere, even Africa - and they have that awful flavored water that they have the balls to call "vitamin" water. But they do not have clear, clean sparkling water. Like Perrier and Le Croix. I have loved sparkling water since it first appeared in the general American market 30 years ago. What is it about rural America that has to have everything flavored and sugary? Yesterday I got a latte at McDonald's and it was so thick with sweetness I had to give it back. The woman making the lattes said that unless you asked for it to be unsweetened, they put the liquid sweetener (corn syrup??!!) in.

Maybe I just got up too early this morning.

Maybe it is the strange homesickness I feel. It's not exactly homesickness.

Driving through the farmland around here always leaves me a bit bemused. The land is not stark, wild, open like more Western landscapes. Nor is it quaint countryside like you would find in New England, or parts of the South. It is similar to rural Kentucky, but I don't know rural KY that feels quite so, well, Big Farm-ish. Overwhelmingly Farm-ish. Nothing but Farm-ish.

Yesterday I told John that it feels a bit like what I imagine The Ukraine to be like. And I don't know a thing about The Ukraine. I don't even know where the Ukraine is.

And then we saw this ...

On the side of the road a Chinese man from Texas selling Bonsai plants from his truck.

Every bonsai that we have ever owned has died, often very quickly. For awhile now we have vowed not to get another bonsai.

John bought a small bonsai.

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