The sun is shining and we are talking about planting our garden. No, we aren’t actually ready to put seeds in the ground. The fickle Highland weather won’t allow us to do that for at least another month, but we can dream about potatoes and tomatoes. My very unadventurous husband wants to plant something exotic just for the fun of it. He suggested rutabagas. What the heck is a rutabaga and what do you do with one after you grow it? I’ll have to look it up. Joe, the man I married because I wanted a rock, a man who takes weeks to make any kind of major decision, recently changed his beer brand after 20 years of faithful sipping and now rutabagas! What will he think of next? Change is in the air.
After a wickedly cold snowy winter, everyone is rejoicing in sunshine. This year’s Maple Festival was a case in point! The first weekend was moderately attended because it was a bit rainy, but the second weekend was slam jam packed with wall to wall vehicles. The sun was shining, and the sapsuckers (as we affectionately call them) arrived in full force. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to drive over five beautiful mountains just to end up in an hour long traffic jam, but I talked to more than one visitor who said this festival is the highlight of their spring. And, really, thank goodness! Our little slice of heaven depends on these visitors to help pay for scholarships, field trips, fire departments, fuel assistance, and mission trips, to name just a few. For my middle school students, it meant slapping together barbecue and hotdogs and baked potatoes and serving them with a smile. Another year of field trips paid for by the work of the students who will be on them.
The Maple Festival always reminds me of how truly wonderful my neighbors are. The Ruritans flip pancakes and fry sausage and make thousands of doughnuts just so they can offer scholarships to students, aid to the homeless, a Little League Field to the sluggers , and firewood to the elderly. The ladies of the elementary school spend days baking bread and then selling it to visitors to fund Cancer research. The churches sell ham buns and funnel cakes so they can go on mission trips. The Lion’s Club deep fries truck loads of pork rinds so that they can help support the local pool and provide eye-glasses to kids who can’t afford them. This is only a small example of the bustle brought on by Maple visitors. I don’t think any other community in America can rival the service hours offered by mine. Tonight, I am going to help with a spaghetti dinner totally organized and executed by two teen age girls who want to help a young family recently burned out of their house. I am humbled by their generous offer of time for their friends, but I am not surprised by it. Children here grow up flipping burgers and waiting tables all in the name of fund-raising. It stands to reason that selfless service would weave itself into their natures.
So change may come in the form of rutabagas and sunshine and visitors to our community, but the things that really matter in a small town don’t. The kids here still grow up knowing who their neighbors are. They know that we are all family.