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Listening in

Agriculture.com Staff 10/10/2008 @ 12:40pm

Overheard on Sunday: "I feel like a snapdragon. Parts of me have snapped and the rest is draggin.'"

I would have loved to explore that further, but I was distracted by someone walking by saying, "I've been a teacher for 33 years and I've had a helluva week."

I did ask for some clarification on that one, but the speaker clammed up as soon as she saw me taking notes. Made me mad -- don't people realize I have a deadline?

I spent last weekend sitting behind a beat-up card table covered with my books, in the corner of a barn, surrounded by real artists selling their wares. It's a goofy way to make a living, but it's probably what I'm best suited for so I shouldn't complain.

Actually, I have no desire to complain -- it was a lot of fun. There's always so much to learn from other people. A woodcarver working with an assortment of razor-sharp knives explained that bloodstains don't actually make the art more valuable -- something about varnish not adhering. I wasn't really listening to the details, but the end result was the discovery that another career option isn't open to me. Between lack of talent and a stunning ability to inflict damage upon myself, I'll stick to a computer keyboard and leave the edged implements to someone else.

Even the weather was perfect. Saturday was a classic fall day -- sunshine, a fresh breeze. People came through the door smiling, enjoying the fact that they'd found a reason to be out and about instead of home scrubbing floors or raking leaves. Sunday was a classic fall day, too, in another sense. It was cloudy and chilly, with spatters of rain, causing an urge to hunker down before what we all know will be coming. People bustled into the barn in bursts, like wind blown leaves, with red cheeks and rain gear.

I'm not actually very good at relaxing, but Saturday was about as close as I come. To my right I enjoyed watching a grandmother pose for a group photo surrounded by daughters and granddaughters. To my left, a father and daughter sat chatting, smiles on their faces while they enjoyed the simple pleasure of each other's company, as light filtering through a stained glass window illuminated their profiles.

Sometimes it can be hard to explain to people just what the pleasure is in living in a small place, but I know it when I see it. I didn't personally know most of the people who came through the door, but I knew of them. I knew them by their good humor, their endurance, and their charity and kindness to their neighbors. I didn't need to know their names to trust them, and I almost laughed when someone asked if they could write me a check.

We live in a hard old world. When I look beyond the end of my driveway I see tough times coming, with misery and difficult decisions galore. And our little corner of the world will not be immune by any stretch of the imagination.

We won't be immune, but I believe people in small places are better suited to handle the tough times, to overcome and endure them. We are experienced in getting by, resources and government are closer to the people and, most importantly, we have each other.

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