27 July 2010

have we met?

The temp and humidity today was something else. The pefect recipe for a storm. I can see the clouds out my picture window forming to the Southwest as my fingers glide over the keys. We could use a little rain, but like my husband says, "depends on who you talk to--the farmers don't need rain, but the city folk do." A flash of lightning now, clouds moving faster, just like all the thoughts running through my mind.

This morning at the crazy time of 7am, Henrik and I went to meet some locals at McDonald's for their morning ritual. A ritual I must say I could get used to with such company, but why they get up so early when none of them have to is a question I should have ask them. I never thought I would be somehow taking the place of my grandparents by "hanging out" with their old friends. I can safely say, I came as a stranger and left as a friend.

It amazing how most introductions between the younger and older in Windom start: "I'm Mari Harries, I was a Nielsen, my grandparents were Don and Dot..." All of a sudden faces light up with the sound of familiar names. "Oh they were good friends of ours," the table replies. We talked about all the webs a small town has, not realizing a part of this giant web was sitting just across the table with her 5 month old son. Of course one of the ladies asked to hold him--how can you not want to hold that package of handsome? Henrik was delighted by the attention.

After the introduction of mostly my family members, I explained the reason I was joining them this early in the morning. I told them about my blog, most of them didn't know what a blog was or even own a computer, which is just fine. I'm hoping to be out in the community enough for them to not neccessarily follow just a bunch of words on some random blog site, but actually see a course of action.  I explained that I would like to restore Windom and wanted some facts straight from those who lived them.  It was almost as if fireworks had shot into the sky, it was like seeing the ocean for the first time and dipping your toes into the salty water, it was like being at the top of the amazing Eiffel Tower looking over the city of love.  Okay, I may be exaggerating a little, but there were faces of complete and utter delight.  I couldn't write fast enough.  They were eager to share just as I was eager to listen.  "You know the face of Windom has changed." one woman said.  "I remember going into town on Saturday and you couldn't find a parking spot."  Saturdays were the days to shop, meet friends and get a bite to eat. This table of women had so many memories...good memories of a good time.  "As kids, we would run around and around and around that square until mom and dad were done shopping," another woman replied with a laugh.  They talked of all the shops downtown: the bakeries (you bet, I put an 's' at the end of bakery), a chocolate shop, a bowling alley, dress shops, the movie theatre (which still holds the same marquee if you can still see it hiding under the chipped paint and burned out light bulbs), butcher shops, the creamery and Worthmore..the place with stools and 5 cent ice cream cones.  "There was a pool hall in River City," another woman chimes in.  I wish I could write the priceless expression she had when she said "River City," you can't write that enthusiam and pride. Yup, Saturdays were the days where friends meet and the air smelled of fresh popped popcorn, until this day moved to Fridays for some reason.  I'd be happy with any hopping day downtown these days, but the farmers weren't too happy when the night to meet became Fridays.  This meant they had to shower twice a week--Friday and Sunday before church.  Before they only had to shower on Saturdays because that would be good enough for church on Sunday too. 

As our conversation about these good old days dwindled into my next question, the atmosphere of the table changed. I asked them what changed, why don't we see any signs of these exciting days anymore?  One blamed the transportation, "it is easier now to get in a car and drive to Worthington or Mankato."  One blamed it on the chaos of life, "it's hard enough to get together with family, let alone friends."  One woman's eyes started to form slight tears, "Those times were about fellowship, tradition, simplicity and family."

I couldn't help but imagine what life would be like if we were all forced to relax and slow down.  It's ironic I tried to imagine this among the grinding of the new smoothie machine and beeping of frying machines in the very icon of fast--McDonalds.  Is this what happened?  We have forced ourselves to take our kids to and from activities almost constantly and buy them things like cell phones, iPods and the newest gadgets.  I still don't understand why a 10 year old needs these things when there is territory in this town to cover, lakes to jump in, rivers to fish, and dirt to conquer.  We stress ourselves out by volunteering for this and that which we are forced to do in order to keep things running and alive.  Our new Sunday ritual has gone from the pews of the church to the stands of the little league ball fields.  We need vacations after a vacation.  It seems our ideas of the American Dream have changed from working hard to providing the neccessities of life to something so unattainable and selfish, needing bigger and better things than our neighbor.  We seem to worship what we see in the media and wait for the next big thing to rule our lives.  There is no time for fellowship, tradition, simplicity and family, and I'm to blame just as much as the other 4,000 people in this city and millions in this country.

Wow, I think I'm learning more about myself on this journey than I expected. I left McDonald's this morning with more than an empty coffee cup.  I usually leave with a bag full of empty calories, but today I left with a lively step.  This morning I left McDonalds with fellowship, simplicity, tradition and family. Thank you!

Finding Windom.

Happy times,

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