Saturday, July 22, 2006

Scenes from Small-Town Rice County

In my whole life until now, the smallest town I've lived in (aside from during my babyhood, when I was too young to remember) was a community of about 100,000, where I spent the bulk of my childhood. From college until 7 months ago, I lived in large urban areas. Thus, I am still getting used to the wonders of truly small-town life. (The drawbacks too, of course--but with 1 small child in hand already and another baby coming imminently, the pluses seem to outweigh the minuses for us at our current stage of life, when low crime, slow traffic, safe streets, short commutes, good schools, and a true sense of kindhearted community take top priority over trendy restaurants, arthouse movie theatres, and nationally-known galleries and museums.)

Anyway, the last few days have included a couple of great examples of small-town living. On Thursday, we ventured to the town square to have supper at the annual outdoor Northfield food festival. While Christopher, Julia, and I munched our sandwiches and coleslaw, a woman came over to chat and take our picture for the town website. And this is the second time we've ended up on the town website after attending community events! This seemed very funny to me--like everyone knows everyone here, or something. (Adding to that sense, we ran into 3 families we knew while there, something that happens pretty much anytime we go anywhere in town, whether it be the grocery store or the coffeeshop.)

Today, we reveled in the rural life at the Rice County Fair, where we met some friends and took the babies to the children's petting zoo (yes, we used lots of hand sanitizer afterward). I've never been to a fair this small, but it was perfect. It cost a grand total of $5 (to park the car), nothing was overwhelming or too loud or hideously dirty, in 90 minutes the girls got to see all the animals, visit a butterfly house, and eat their bag lunches, and everyone went home for nap happy but not overwrought. And there were no scary gap-toothed carnies.

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