Off for a week at the beach, girls are in bed and Jack and I are sitting on the front porch of a rented cottage in South Haven, full of bugs and sand and beach toys. It's really the most peaceful place I could imagine, I can hear, over Otis Redding, the quiet humm of the neighbor's air conditioner. Actually the quietest place I have ever been is Strawberry Point, Iowa, but that is another story.
I have an odd longing to live in a Little Country Town (see Mary and Kate's favorite book list, Little Country Town by Jandelyn Southwell), odd because we live in a very dense and busy area of Chicago, full of diversity and zanies and everything I love. Once when I was little I told my mom I wanted to live where Opie lived, Mayberry looked just perfect to me, (Opie could walk to his dad's office for God's sake!) and she said NEVER, she would never consider it, everyone would know your business. I remember wondering just what was my mother's business.
My husband grew up in a small town. He will have no part of my Mayberry needs, he loves the city, and is convinced that I have no idea what I am talking about, having never lived in small town myself. He believes that I have romanticized the small town experience and it's possible, just possible, that he might be right. I'm looking for the cafe on the town square, the volunteer fire department, the old men sitting in front of the barbershop...he tells me I will find Hardee's and old men wondering who in the hell I am. To be fair, we once drove to visit his parents, I stopped in the town gas station and when I went in to pay (you had to go in to pay), everyone stopped talking and looked at me. He explained to me later that they all had to see who had the out of state license plates. To that, please read Bill Bryson's book, The Lost Continent. For that matter, please read every book he has written.
How I digress. We are spending a week in South Haven and I love it. We bounce around the idea of buying a place here, and I think we'll do it at some point. Mary asked us tonight, as we roasted marshmallows, why we don't live here. In the summer, she's right, I could spend every day playing with them on the beach, riding bikes, chasing fireflies, and letting Eleanor wander freely about (we did lose her on the first day but our very nice neighbors found her) but Jack's right also, in February I think I'd lose my mind. I'd miss my neighborhood, I'd miss Melvin, Mr. Salsa, Pho from Hai Yen, the anticipation of baseball season, sushi from Katachi, and urban blech, I'd really miss that.
But for today, this is the very best place to be. Good God, did I really feed my children marshmallows?