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Written October 8, 2008

The one thing I have always loved about this part of the country is it’s small towns with their town squares, downtowns, laid-back attitudes and down to earth values. Today I was able to spend some time exploring my new town albeit it temporary… Carlinville Illinois… a little town about 10 miles to the south of the State Park. First stop was two loads of laundry at the local Laundromat BUT I had to stop for detergent first. Choosing to pass up Walmart, I headed for the IGA parking lot and stepped into an atmosphere that took me back at least 30 years when I was growing up and raising my own child. The local IGA – family owned, complete with butcher shop and deli counter, where everyone knew everyone and it wasn’t uncommon for it to be THE place to hang out for coffee with friends and family. Where it was never a problem getting a special cut of meat for dinner or a “better looking” head of lettuce from the back. Where employees actually retired from the same store after umpteen years of working there. Where everyone was family! It was the first place I ever called if I didn’t know where to find my mom before the days of cell phones… and she was usually there. After picking up some detergent, I vowed I’d return after the laundry was done to pick up the few things for dinner that I needed. And so I did! And stepped back to a world I’d long ago forgotten existed. Yes I paid more for the head of cauliflower than I would’ve at Walmart. But I wandered the small aisles, got a “better looking” head of cauliflower at the produce person’s suggestion, talked to the butcher who offered his opinion about a new seasoning I’d picked up to look at, watched Margaret be hugged by a neighbor and asked how she was feeling, listened to the local talk and gossip that seemed to fill every aisle I wandered down, and was greeted by the cashier with a smile and “You came back!” when I went to check out. And I felt like a million bucks when I loaded the truck with my purchases, driving down country roads with the window open, the wind blowing and country music blaring from the radio. I felt at peace… and a sense of contentment with the world as I’m knowing it right now. I may have paid 60 cents more for a head of cauliflower but what I gained from the day was priceless.