Published in the Rains County Leader on March 3, 2022:
Last week’s column about things to do in Emory attracted some attention, and my final request for suggestions of things I might have missed received enough response to warrant a follow up. Here are a few more ideas of things to do in Emory along with some of the things that make small town living special.
My cousin Bobby pointed out that Emory has a livestock auction on Tuesday and Saturday every week at the Sale Barn on Highway 19. I have never been to the auction, but I have seen lots of trailers full of animals going to or coming from the barn. The parking lot is always full on sale days, and it looks like it might be a lively social event.
Another Linda, one of my Friends of the Library buddies, suggested that weekly shopping at Good Samaritans Thrift Store is a fun social event. The Thrift Store is open to the public on Saturday from 8:00 am to noon. It’s a great place to find a wide variety of gently used and sometimes new items including clothes, household items, books, toys, Christmas decorations, and more. You will see the same people often, including my neighbors Pat and Dirk who frequent the Saturday sale, and the volunteers are very friendly. The Good Samaritans operation is also a great place to volunteer as they always need help sorting donations and managing the food bank during the week.
With more time to think through the options, I realized I omitted one important entry from my list of restaurants and that is our local coffee shop. Reka’s could hold its own against any national coffee chain, and it’s a great place to socialize. Emerging authors sometimes want to ask me for advice, and what better place to discuss writing and publishing than over a delicious cup of coffee and a muffin or scone. On the other hand, if you prefer to sip you coffee in silence, there’s usually a copy or two of the Leader lying around so you can peruse the news and the most recent police reports.
One activity I failed to mention last week was the neighborhood watch – not in the formal sense of an organization with officers, duty rosters, and window stickers, but in the small-town sense of neighbors watching out for each other. It’s a little disconcerting to realize that nothing on the Brendle homestead goes unnoticed by the neighborhood watch. Near the beginning of our Rains County residency, everyone at the Senior Center knew we had a new parking pad almost before the asphalt cooled. But it’s also comforting to get a phone call when you’re out of town telling you that your shed door is standing open and asking if the caller should go check it out.
In addition to the things to do and opportunities to get involved, country living offers some advantages that may override some of the boredom of being away from the city. Many of those advantages involve being close to the source of the food chain. P & E Farms on CR 3410 offers raw milk and cream, grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, vegetables in season, and other products – and the small produce stand on Highway 19 offers fresh tomatoes and other home-grown veggies almost year round. Sweet potatoes, honey, watermelons and other products show up at the intersection of Highways 69 and 19 from time to time, and if you’re fortunate enough to have friends who raise cattle, you may have another source of grass-fed beef. And during the growing season, friends whose gardens have produced an overabundance of zucchini or whose hens are producing an overabundance of eggs are often generous in sharing the wealth.
If all of these incentives still leave you longing for the big city lights, let me share a comment from ShaRee Harris after reading last week’s column:
Patrick and I both grew up in the big city of Garland, but we decided we wanted something different for our girls. We wanted to raise them in a community where they knew their teachers, their neighbors, and we wanted to find a good church home. Raising two kids in Rains, we are always busy. From volleyball, basketball, powerlifting, cheer and barrel racing, most nights we are lucky if we get home before 9:00. We are also actively involved in church with youth group, volunteering for nursery, children’s chapel and greeters. Most nights and weekends I look forward to having nothing to do.