Earlier this week I had to make a short drive down Highway 24. I decided to stop and take in the sights of Wamego, KS population 4,603. Just about a block off main street they have the prettiest city park I think I have ever seen in a town this size. Taking a walk through the park I knew I had my theme of thankfulness for the week: small town living.
I am thankful that I grew up in a small town where everyone knew who I was. In college we were told to insure that every interaction we had in a school setting with a child was beyond reproach we should consider if we would be comfortable having it shown on the nightly news. This was not a new concept to a small town girl who knew whatever I did in the morning would have made the rounds of town and gotten to my parents by the time I went to bed that night. Lacking anonymity encouraged my best behavior…most of the time. At the very least, it gave me a clear understanding of right and wrong.
I am thankful for the lack of traffic jams, for clean air, a slower pace of life, and big gardens. I am thankful for zucchini that mysteriously shows up on your doorstep and parades where kids’ bikes with crepe paper woven through the spokes are the main attraction. I am thankful that not having ready-made entertainment options I learned to use my imagination, to create art, and to read. I am thankful that I learned how to really listen to the stories when my mom sent me down the street to visit an elderly person to ease their loneliness.
I am thankful for soft, old quilts to lay on the grass; the big sky alternately filled with clouds or stars. I am thankful for a place where the door is always open means both you are welcome here and we never have to lock the place up.
I understand that the allure of small town living is not evident to everyone–which, of course, is why so many towns in my state have populations of 4,603 or less. The thing is, I find that just one more thing to be thankful for.