Community. It paints pictures of people bound together by location or common goals. It is the tight-knit group that holds each other up, facing challenges and joys together.
I see the small school rooted deeply in our tiny Midwestern town. Walking in the footsteps of my family, I found my place there and then brought what I learned to college with me. I see the churches, post office, library, bank and elevator that will remain forever in my memory of my hometown.
However, I’m blessed with a community that reaches beyond my home in the north part of the county. Because of you, dear readers, I am honored to share life with you through the stories I share and the ones you tell me when I see you.
When I think of community, I see the people who knew me when I was still young enough to get by with going barefoot, who like to fondly remind me of when I sang with my mother at music jams while eschewing footwear.
I remember the generation that tells me story after story about growing up in “the good old days,” sharing treasured details about the father I knew for seven years but they knew for a lifetime.
The joke is that in a small town you don’t have to use your turn signal, because everyone already knows where you’re going.
My version of this is that everybody knows who I am and what I’m doing because they read my column or my mother’s. Where did I go on vacation with my mother last fall? What type of farm work am I doing? You all probably know better than me sometimes! (I’m mostly kidding.) I do love it, though.
It seems like everywhere I go, I meet someone who knows me from the Write Team, whether it is at the farm supply store, concert or social event. Getting to know you, my audience, makes writing these columns even more rewarding, and hearing your side of the story makes it a conversation, which is the best part.
During the winter months when the pastures are dormant, the cows aren’t visible from the road and there are inevitable questions from friends who drive by and know to look for cows. If you’ve been wondering, no, we didn’t sell the cows. Give it a few more weeks and they’ll be out enjoying green pastures again. You and I both will be very happy then!
The communities I’m part of have shaped who I am and helped me find my path in this crazy-but-wonderful life.
So, my friends, as I bid you farewell and look to the busy summer ahead, let me thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your community. And if you happen to see me at a county fair, music event, or just on the street, feel free to stop and say hello.
Now, in the tradition of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, let me say, “Happy trails to you, until we meet again.”
MARTHA HOFFMAN, of Earlville, is a sophomore at Illinois Valley Community College. She can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.