Jul 12, 2010

Supposedly Deep Thoughts On Decidedly Small Towns

The little town of Lamont, pretty much like some old, gnarled tree whose spreading branches have been an inevitable refuge for innumerable wayward birds who, over the last century, having been battered and blown by the winds of the world, have sought a much needed respite in its comforting and sheltering recesses - a town by all measures always small and insignificant as man judges those things - but one with a powerful symbolism for those who have healed and mended and/or started anew under its canopy - like a small and valueless gift from a long-lost loved one can carry a significance out of all proportion to its actual worldly value - a place as faded and unimpressive as an old forgotten pair of shoes and somehow comforting in the same inexplicable way. Like salmon recognizing and cherishing the stream of their birth regardless of the 1000's of miles of intervening waterways that their lives exposed them to, small towns like Lamont can leave the same, time-worn imprint on the ever-impressionable soul like a foot will eventually manage to forever personalize a new pair of shoes (especially those hard, leather kind! Oh, I hate those! What beastly little torture chambers!) - every foot leaving a slightly different imprint - but an imprint all the same - an imprint unique to the individual - and one that it recognizes immediately upon being reintroduced - regardless of the gap in time between events.

This is the power of a place like Lamont that one can only understand by living thru it and with it, by forming that bond and being formed by it over the general passage of time, like a river polishing and smoothing the hardest stone - never hurrying to do so, but also never daunted in its gentle pursuit, either. This country has 1000's of Lamonts, places both large and small, cast in forbidding wastelands and nestled at the very bosom of the earth's bounty. But these bonds, somehow thrust up from the stony ground of the human heart, form a considerable backdrop for all that we are - as individuals, as Americans and as human beings ourselves. A sense of place and belonging, a primary need since the terror filled days of our brutal and short-lived hunter-gatherer ancestry, forms the very foundation of what it means to be us - a central core so primary and fundamental that we no longer even recognize it until it is taken away. And all the pressures of the world, this modern world with its drive onward and upward - where accommodating an increasing number of people on an ever diminishing resource base places a natural premium on efficiency - at least efficiency as seen by a culture hurtling at break-neck speed, carried on by its own momentum and sense of purpose - and oftentimes just for the love of movement itself. But in that inevitable shuffling of priorities and requirements and essentials, decisions are never made by lone individuals but by a disjointed collective of well-intentioned souls, towns like Lamont can often be cast aside, most frequently by the very fruit of the mother tree itself - fruit that buys into the newer and faster and more exciting.

Which brings us full circle to the importance of maintaining the Lamonts of this world. This essential glue that holds the collective whole together requires a level of devotion outside the mere emotional - it requires energies beyond the self-congratulatory and it requires a commitment in addition to the status quo. This rare mixture of passion, reflection and enthusiasm, if fostered and allowed to grow, could very well save a large number of the obsolete and unfashionable relics of a slower municipal America, and we will all be richer for that. But only time will tell if these dreams and devotions are just the latest buggy-whips in the coming age of the automobile - or if they are indeed the last stand that turned the tide in our favor once and for all. Stay tuned to find out! If nothing else, it will be an interesting ride! And as has been said, everything there is to know about the world can be learned in a place like Lamont - and like any good canary-in-a-coal-mine worth its salt, we hope you will follow this little bell-weather as the bitter winter storms come, and the winds batter our tattered branches, but our tenacious persistence in the longing for the coming, healing, revitalizing Spring and its inevitable rebirth never diminishes. Because as the battered little birds nestle in our meager branches, so, too, do we nestle under the branches of the larger America - pausing to heal our broken wings and damaged plumes, drawing strength from something greater than ourselves in the hope that one day soon we can once again soar into the heavens (Okay, this is Lamont, so maybe 'soar' is to grand a word! More like that half flight/half flop thing that young birds do when out of the nest for mere hours! We don't want to get all carried away with our own capabilities!), and that our passionate although often inconsequential (some would say annoying!) singing will be just one more happy voice in a world that seldom takes the time to listen to such things, being busy and all, or one day we will all wake up and be deafened by the very silence itself and wonder where things went wrong!

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