After a hectic summer, I have moved all of my belongings from Seattle, Washington to a small town in Massachusetts. I grew up in the country but I have never lived IN a small town. Here in Lenox I can walk to the dry cleaners, the market, the library, the post office, restaurants, bars, get a great latte and giggle with a friend in a fabulous bookstore. Small town life suits me.
In the summer I walk by a vegetable stand perched near the sidewalk of a front yard. Under the tent you can purchase fresh vegetables and fruit, leaving the money in a wooden box on the table. While I exclaim the virtues of his fabulous red tomatoes and fresh corn, “Farmer Don” comes out in person with his dog, Lucky. What a joy to shake the hand of a grizzled old man and have a chat about apples and gardening.
I am renting a lovely old Victorian from the lady who grew up here with her infamous father. Everywhere I go I hear people say with a gleam in their eye, “Ooooh, you live in Cap’s house” and then they go on to reveal their juiciest stories. Cap (short for Captain) was the Fire Chief for years, he had a foul mouth and a no bullshit attitude and everyone loved him. The more I hear, the more I wish I had known him.
When I moved into Cap’s House the garbage disposal did not work, so my landlady gave me the phone number to call the plumber with this comment, “he’s a bit gruff, but a great plumber.” So with some reticence I left a message on his answering machine revealing my plight. A few days later I hear a banging on the back door. I run downstairs open the door to a hand held out, “I’m the plumber.” I love that he arrived unannounced, got the job done, and I am happy to report, was not gruff at all! Not something that would happen in a big city.
Yesterday I was having coffee on my lazy front porch when the man from the charming house across the street came out, waved and trotted over to say hello. I invited him up the steps and we sat and chatted about Henry David Thoreau (“Thou Meanderest forever at the bottom of my dream”), our favorite hikes, our favorite ponds, the beauty of the Berkshires, and the sadness of technology taking away face to face communication. He also glued a chair that I broke a few days prior and brought me the local paper and left it on my porch.
I love walking into town, dropping off a suitcase to be repaired, meeting parents waiting for their kids at the bus stop, and breezing by my favorite place, The Bookstore, to get my Matthew fix and giggle at his latest goofy jokes…
“You know what the girl walking down the street said to the other girl wearing a big Scarlett letter A on her chest? You’re only an A? I’m an A+”
Matthew owns this bookstore gem and we have been the best of friends since acting in a play together a few years back. If I am ever in a funk (which does happen on dreary winter days) I go into Matt’s bookstore and come out a ray of sunshine.
He adorns me with his time and patience to listen, giving me his spirit. He is an extraordinary human being, quotes poetry, gives laughter, I can’t think of anybody like him. It is such a lovely thing in life to have a friend that is not like anyone else and one that cannot be replaced by anyone else. That really is it! The irreplaceableness of somebody. Happiness is having a bevy of irreplaceable people in your life. I am lucky to have very many.
Last winter when I was particularly confounded Matt sincerely questioned me with a twinkle in his eye….”you know what to do right? Put your hands up and jump down the rabbit hole!” I think about the risk and bravery of Alice a lot now. “Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
It is now the holiday season and though the snow has yet to arrive, the twinkling lights, Christmas carols, and good cheer abound. All this small town quaintness has some major cultural ingredients as well. Shakespeare & Company, where I work, has a huge influence on the local economic conversation. And for over a hundred years this area has been known as a music mecca. Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Pops has a two hundred acre campus of lawns and buildings here where thousands of visitors flock every summer, clog the streets, sit on the grass or under the “shed” to listen to the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor, and John Williams. I went for the first time last summer and it was magical. I packed a picnic, chairs and a blanket and listened to Kristen Chenoweth’s pure high soprano float out over a star-strewn landscape. The evening ended with a fireworks display over a nearby lake. All of this is two miles from my fireman’s home.
This has turned into an ode for small town life, at least for this girl. And let’s face it, New York City is only a 3 hour trip away so it’s not like I’m in the middle of no where. I have landed in an idyllic landscape for this season of my life and I am feeling enchanted.
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be
Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who’s in the big town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that’s good enough for me