Saturday, February 3, 2007
A Summer Memory...
Unknown to us, this parade down our "main drag," Old Highway 80, last July may have been the last of the our town's summer festivals. Here, with Hap cruising ever so slowly down the main street, lined with oaks and pines, Father Acker takes a quick break from playing guitar to wave at me while I, sitting in front of the 50s diner, snap a picture of him and three of our four kids as they throw out Tootsie Rolls to the crowd. The candy wrappers are covered with stickers giving Alpine Anglican's website, phone number, and place and time for services. Clever!
My kids were in the parade TWICE. They went through early in the parade in one of Hap's firetrucks, spraying water on the crowd (and don't think the didn't bean their dear mom, either; it was an irresistible opportunity!). Just as I was beginning to worry about them as they hadn't returned to me yet, they come around again with Father in the back of the truck, tossing candy over the sides of the truck and singing along with Father's guitar-playing. I can't tell you how many people came up to me that day saying, "Yes, I saw your kids in the parade. BOTH times."
Well, those wonderful days may be over. Part of our town celebration was a rodeo, held just outside our back gate. Both rings would be going full-bore, with roping, buck-broncing, all the stuff of rodeos. People would gather in the shaded metal stands, eating nachos and drinking beer and lemonade. Inevitably, we would receive a drenching rainshower, and everyone would duck for cover for twenty minutes; then, everything was back as usual, with microphones booming and cattle lowing
Last Saturday, we were stunned and sickened to see the rings being removed from the meadow. Some guy from El Centro has bought the property and refuses to allow the town to use his land, the same land used for the last 26 years of the annual town celebration. Apparently the guy wants to build 20 houses immediately outside our gate, filling in this peaceful place, where a blue heron lurks every winter and where crows and red-tailed hawks soar, with a housing development.
See, this is a small town. 1200 people. The only "development" we've ever had was in the mid-70s, and it was not filling in the center of the town; it was on the outskirts. It didn't take over a peaceful, wildlife-rich environment that is the stuff of promising green in spring, of rodeos and laughter in summer, of beautiful purple sunsets in fall,and of peaceful snowfields in winter.
So today I'm mourning for our lovely meadow. And for our beloved town festival, which may not be occurring next year at all, parade included.