Small Town America

You’ve got to love a farming community. The grocery has a 1970s sign with a cartoon viking. Its next-door box of a pub sells burritos and keeps bars on the windows as if it were a garrison. The pub has a wagon out front, in which–the owner will tell you–his father smuggled his mother across the Mexican border while she lay under a bed of flowers. The grocery has a Saturday rush, because it will be closed on Sunday. All the cashiers outright wish you a happy Easter. There’s a white-haired farmer by the newspaper cubbies who eats a spearmint candy and says, “I ‘spect.” There’s the back-room guy who runs the Muzak and plays “Piano Man” twice in a row. And lately, there’s also Ranchero music in the parking lot. And there’s a corner of the grocery, right by the potato tower, that sells tortillas de maize blonco and votive candles with Technicolor Mary.

It’s all good! It’s all stone-chimney houses on the way home. And forty acres for sale, and a total lack of speed limit signs, so that you gather you can go as fast as your Michigan antenna pennant can withstand. I find a man frying fish right on the Pentwater River. The Canada geese lunge their necks as they paddle through the current.

“And do you think,” I might ask him, “that almost 80 percent of the lake bottom is made up of goose poop?”

“I ‘spect,” he’d say. “Those geese eat anything you give them. It’s been that way for years. They’re muy gordo. “

(Originally posted March 26, 2016)

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