This update is too long in coming, but it took me a couple of weeks to get my feet on the ground up here. I drove out on Saturday, October 29th, my car stacked to the roof with computers, plants, and weapons, (what else does one need, really?) excited to finally be going‘home’ but very sad to leave. I immediately attacked the wall of boxes that greeted me when I arrived, and since Bryan invited his entire family for dinner the next day, the impetus was there to arrange the furniture in such a way that sitting in the living room wasn’t a spelunking expedition. (To be fair, they brought dinner.) Once the dust settled and the first thirty or so cartons were unpacked, bed linens located, and the kitchen assembled to a reasonable degree of functionality, I set about exploring this new town. I learned a few useful things:
1. Locking is optional. Leave it unlocked, leave the windows down. Nobody’s going to touch your car. The visor’s a really good place to keep your keys. So you know where they are.
2. Bring cash. Not all banks have ATMs. Not all stores take debit cards. Not all stores have cash registers; some do up a receipt by hand, use a calculator for the tax, and tear you off a copy.
3. Pay your utilities in person. The electric company’s closer than the post office. Why waste $0.37 when you can take a nice walk and exchange pleasantries with the lady at the counter? Ditto for water, sewer, and trash.
4. Its pronounced, ‘Wells-bruh’. Upstate New York with a touch of Minnesota and a whiff of the Canadian border is the accent here. Give me another week and I’ll have mastered it. Give me six months and I’ll forget what I used to sound like.
5. Don’t write yourself in as a joke when you vote here. You might win. (I didn’t do this; I heard a story.)
6. If the pickup truck is towing a 4-wheeler and the driver is wearing any combination of blaze orange and camouflage do not glance in the bed of the truck unless dead wildlife is interesting to you.
7. If you need to go to a store that closes at 5, and you work until 5, chances are the owner (who answered the phone) will offer to stay and wait for you. Except Sunday, when everything is closed.
8. Speaking of Sunday, don’t be late to church. Your chances of sneaking in unnoticed are hampered considerably by the fact that there are only 47 people there and 10 of them are your neighbors.
9. Directional landmarks are tricky, since a mile outside town its trees, trees, trees. Its not uncommon for people to refer to guardrail as a guide, as in “Our driveway is a quarter mile or so from where the guardrail ends”.
I’m still working on slowing down as I observe that this seems to be a community that runs on neighborly consideration and good manners. Driving is much less an act of aggression in these parts. (Nobody’s in a hurry because everything you need is either right here or 50-80 miles away and in that case you’re going to make a Saturday of going to get it.)
That’s about it for now; the to-do list for the house centers around the last of the unpacking, acquisition of a bit of furniture, and raking up the leaves to stash in leaf bags in the garage so I can add them to my compost come spring. (And planning my very first Thanksgiving dinner that I am making. More on that later.)