Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Small Town Afternoon

If I was Doc Hollywood, this could be Grady. It certainly felt like it today. Sometime in 1772, someone decided this part of Maine looked like home and that's when my town, loosely so-called, was born. Although it's mostly farming country now, years ago there was a mill located on the river bordering my hayfield, and old photographs depict loggers riding islands of timber like acrobats in Cirque du Soleil.

For two days each July, you can wander the grounds of a national historical site (photo), a mansion built in 1805, watch frog jumping and ladies' pan toss contests (the latter has to be like an egg toss only more risky), and munch cotton candy. Everyone from the Boy Scouts to local politicians and craftsmen/women set up tables, announcing to the world, here we are -- right here -- you can find our coordinates on your GPS. Making new friends is as easy as extending your hand.

Saturday morning there is a parade replete with marching band, antique cars, and a local hobbyist pulling a flat-bed trailer with a gigantic miniature railroad set up on its surface. The Masons or Elks, I never got which, drove a series of go-carts, each one dressed up like a life-sized 18 wheeler, and a group of lovely young ladies clad in wedding dresses walked along behind them. Being the equivalent of the Village Idiot, I chose this morning to drive to the veterinarian's, only to find myself weaving in and out of the parade as it gathered -- the cop who brought up the rear thought my foolishness more worthy of a laugh than a ticket. Such are the people here.

In the fall, county fairs spring up all over Maine, reminding you that this portion of New England is rural. We may have cities on the coast and ski resorts in the mountains, but in between are a collection of communities that dot the field and forested landscape like freckles on a kid's face. Tonight, for those so inclined, there will be a bean supper with fireworks afterward. I'm passing on the meal, no pun intended, but the fireworks are tempting.

This is a small town afternoon and small town life at its best. Uncomplicated, straightforward, no nonsense, and no posturing. Accept us as we are and we'll do likewise. Children taking pony rides, mom and dad taking pictures, grandparents taking their time, sitting in the shade. And tonight, there will be fireworks. Can it get any better than this?

(Photo by the author, copyright 2010)

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