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Saturday, February 26, 2011

The idyllic town of Lowell...

I live in a quaint town. I would even go so far as to say idyllic, and I don't just use that word flippantly. Granted, it's not the Shire or Yosemite, but it does rustle with something of an antiquity. It's an old logging town from the 1800's with converging rivers...the Grand and the Flat. Whoever settled here decided to build the town atop the two rivers. The downtown is literally built over the river with buildings perched up on treated lumber like the kind you see in summer homes on some exotic beach in the Florida keys.

Other buildings are set on cement pillars and walls that are drilled down deep through the mucky river's bottom and into the earth that lies beneath the water's current. Old brick buildings line Main St. each bearing the touch of a mason's hand. The hand hewn molding speaks of good ole' fashioned craftsmanship. The windows are tall and the glass antique looking. It's a window shoppers heaven.

Old street lanterns line the sidewalks in the historic district and at night it looks every bit as glorious as a Thomas Kinkade painting, glowing with the softened hues of something nostalgic. The Flat River is a shallow, slow-moving river teeming with wildlife. Swan families elegantly float back and forth from shore to shore, ducks fly in formation landing with furry and beauty, turtles sunbathe on protruding rocks and driftwood, fisherman stand along the river's edge fishing for pan fish with little red and white bobbers twitching with every nibble.

Along the shore there sits an old retired Showboat. It speaks of a rich history of shoreline concerts and family riverboat escapades upstream. I've seen old pictures, and when this double-decked monolithic beast moved across the water with hundreds of families smiling in delight, it glowed with glory. And yet, even docked along the shore, it still speaks with majesty of an era that was simple and pure. Sometimes I just stop and look at it letting its history fill my veins with the oxygen of yesteryear.

Among the tallest buildings in our little agrarian town are the grain silos of King Milling. It is a business that provides flour for a lot of the cereals you eat for breakfast in the morning. The hum of industrial equipment fills the air, and not the kind of noise pollution you constantly hear in Los Angeles; it's a hum that reminds you that people have jobs to provide for their families, a hum that speaks of the middle class gutting it out for a decent wage, a hum that made America great before our jobs were shipped overseas. There is something heart-warming about coming home from a trip and seeing the towering silos of King Milling welcoming you back to Lowell.

I'm sitting in a coffee shop in the historic district that has served as my solace and office for nearly 7 years now. The people that frequent this place come here looking for the warmth of a good cup of joe, yes, but they are pining for so much more than that. They are looking to brush up against the angel wings of community. They want to be said hi to. They want to be seen and acknowledged. They want to flee the rugged individualism and independence of the postmodern age and return to the roots of relationship. A smile, a nod, a wink. Anything that means you're interacting and interfacing with humanity. This "third space" is where I find my bearings, my center on most days. The muffled mutterings of conversations happening around me, the soft singer/songwriting music filling the room, the sound of coffee machines pressing out brew, the smell of fresh baked muffins, the soft lighting that speaks of simplicity and serenity...these are "a few of my favorite things".

In the spring/summer I enjoy kayaking from White's Bridge (covered bridge) to Fallasburg's Bridge (another covered bridge) taking in the beauty of the winding river and the best of nature's surprising wonders. Bald eagles nest atop tree, Great Blue Herons fly downstream with me as I push them along from one bend of the river to the next, baby fawns drink from stirring eddies and they are so tame you can about float up to them and pet them on the head. Fish dart back and forth under you exposed by the sideways sunlight, flocks of Mallard ducks and Canadian geese nest along the edges leading their young from the safety of the shore into the adventure of the current. They are carried along like little puffs of cotton.

Hardwood trees of every species provide a canopy of comfort over the rushing river, an umbrella of sprawling branches. Occasionally, you will see a huge oak tree fallen over the river due to the water slowly eating away the dirt from its tangled roots. Felling an oak is not the easiest of feats, but water is a patient warrior. I love taking my watercraft through the branches of the fallen tree that acts as a labyrinth--like a corn maze at Halloween. The therapy of a day of kayaking is unparalleled.

In the summer our family will park downtown, buy a loaf of bread from the local butcher's shop, and head down to the shoreline to feed the hundreds of desperate looking ducks. Sometimes we'll buy some homemade salty beef jerky to gnaw on while we fill the bloating bellies of those ducks. Watching the ducks fly in from all sides brings a smile to my face. I know that when they are quacking with frenzied excitement as we're feeding them they are yelling out some sort of signal to surrounding waterfowl. I imagine them screaming, "Everybody, get over here, some stupid humans are feeding us bread again!" And they come with abandon.

Ahhh, yes. These reasons and many more make my life in this bedroom community a pleasure of the highest order. I thank God all the time for bringing me to such a splendid location to live my life for his glory. It makes it so much easier to live for His glory when your live smack dab in the middle of it!

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I don't know if I've ever looked at Lowell and counted the the "idyllic" parts of it in such detail. This should go in the Ledger. Seriously.