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Proximity

Green Acres: Mountain Living At Its Finest –

PROXIMITY

One of the great and not-so-great things about living in a smallish town is that you may know everybody and everybody probably knows you. Give an errant driver the one-finger salute in the morning and guaranteed, by afternoon, you’ll run into that same friendly neighbor in some business or school or community related capacity. I had to practically tape my left-hand middle-finger down when we moved here, so used to the fraught nature of city driving was I.One summer in Oakhurst, we get some gas at Vons up on 49 and a grumpy guy flicks his lit cigarette into the nice adjacent landscaping and it makes me nuts! I was incredulous… he’s got kids in the car! What a terrible littering example he is, and how dangerous to play with fire! I let him have it:

“Are you kidding me? There’s total high fire danger and you throw your stinking butt into the bushes?” He grumbles and gives me a salute. I can’t resist one last insult as we roll away and hang my head out the window. FYI my kid loves it when I do this stuff. Not.

“You big DOOF,” I yell as we round the turn to take our lovely red-haired daughter to 4-H camp, about twenty five miles away, high up in the mountains. “Doof,” for those who may not remember, is a great word, short for “Doofus” and if you actually know me, you know I was really, really holding back using a pejorative from junior high.

Turned out to be a lucky thing, for when we finally get to camp, whom do we see? Yep, there, parked along with all the other seemingly normal 4-H camper families, is the gas station “Doof” with the bad cigarette habits. Great! We have a whole afternoon to bond. That’s just one example of small town awkwardness if you’re, let’s say, Irish like me. Rugged Husband is a very tolerant man.

Most of the time, it’s wonderful to live in the foothills and run into friends almost constantly. Small town connectedness is crucial when something goes wrong, and it’s always comforting to see how quickly close friends and total strangers rally to aid those in need.

One year my sister and brother-in-law come to visit and he forgets the cannula for the oxygen tank they carry – it’s the plastic tube connecting the tank to the nose. They just assume the things are available everywhere, like beer. In fact, that is not so. One needs a prescription for the device and my elders are already on the road expecting me to fix this emerging catastrophe. Their big city heart doctor is not answering calls on this particular Friday – and it seems we are out of luck.

Long ago I heard that you can reach any person you want in three phone calls. Here in the mountains, it takes only one or two calls, so long as you dial the right number to begin with. We do. I call a friend at work and an EMT happens to be there and he hands over the precious tube, on the spot. As it turns out, they didn’t use oxygen on that trip, so if you ever need a cannula, call me! We have two.

Now, I’m reminded of another way local people are helping one another, and dining out to stimulate the local economy, too. It’s called H.O.W., and it stands for Helping One Woman who is surviving a life-changing catastrophe (sorry, divorce doesn’t count!). For the cost of dinner (at a different restaurant once a month), plus ten dollars to the “pot” when you participate, the organization helps one woman by handing her a fish-bowl full of cash, lots of applause and maybe sharing a few tears. You should definitely check out the next HOW meeting, on September 19th at 6pm at DiCicco’s, honoring Shiela Odneal.

Remember, small town living is swell, until you run into your gynecologist at your kid’s band practice. Quick apology to my former physician: I had to switch offices, the proximity was more than I can take!

About Kellie Flanagan

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