Pioneer Days in Norfork, Arkansas, population 511.
The town stretches a mile or so down the main street with post office, grocery store, café, thrift store, and food bank surrounded by mountains in every direction.
Norfork is in the North Central part of the state and isolated from big cities. It takes a big plan to go to a Sam’s store, Best Buy, or Barnes & Noble.
Even bigger, it takes an adventurous spirit to sail around curves and mountains in a vehicle every day, choosing to drive into Mountain Home for work. But when these folks return home, they snuggle in among their mountains and rivers.
Norfork is small and somewhat cut off, but, unlike many such towns, it is not dying.
We have small businesses: Curious Craftsmen just opened, Heidi’s Ugly Cakes is moving onto the main street, and a brewing company recently opened business here.
Wolf House on Main Street is a testament to earlier times, the place of Civil War reenactments today. The cannon boys have already started.
In our town, we have churches, schools, youth center. Graduation just happened at the high school. Typical across all of America.
And today, we celebrate the people of Norfork.
With many other vendors, I sell my goods (books) on the loop under stretched-out oak trees in front of the Youth Center.
I listen to interactions where compassion crawls in under the skin of someone when one soul connects deeply to another. We know that’s how a heart is often bound to another’s. Profoundly good. Profoundly terrifying. Profoundly healing.
It hurts us to hear sad news from people, but I think we must try to hear it. Probably the only way to grow weak enough to love the world.
You can smell hot dogs and barbecue. Listen, and you can hear the squeals of children as they skip and run.
Little ones wedge in close to grownups when it is parade time. Sidewalk audiences line main street.
Today is about community and goodness.
It’s about the color guard coming toward us, the trombones and marching band, colorful floats with waving women, then Poppin’ Johnnies (John Deere tractors), glittering politicians throwing candy, T-models and old trucks, a kid waving from a big fire truck.
Oh, the thrill of a siren on a fire truck. Lusty green trees everywhere.
Finally, cowpokes and sure-footed horses in gentle trots.
Laughter and music to my eyes and ears.
Boys poke each other. Girls wave balloons. Children are not about sameness or circular living today. They want faces painted, fun foods and fishing for toys.
Our town, full of light—people, music, laughter.
Everyone who grows up and graduates from here must decide whether to stay or leave. They each have their reasons.
No matter the choice, may they never outgrow this love of community, this sharing, this willingness to hear each other and to watch a parade together.
P.S. Gratitude for my readers, whether you are in big cities or tiny towns. Thank you for Comments and Shares.
Photo of Norfork community during Pioneer Days in Norfork, Arkansas, by Pat Durmon, May 19, 2018.