If you worked in the Bluffton Hospital cafeteria during the fall of 2003, I was the woman who ordered a shocking number of turkey sandwiches and strawberry milkshakes. I was also the person who, ravenous after 17 hours of unmedicated labor, called the head cook to “thank you, thank you for this mighty good food.” My eldest spent her first months in this town, strolling with me to the coffee shop for chocolate chip cookies and adult conversation. (I was still hungry, but not just for food.)
Like many of our transient peers, we moved so that my husband could continue his schooling. For us, seven years of medical school and residency at the University of Wisconsin. Now, here we are again. A few blocks away from where we walked our daughter home from the hospital, but with two more children, a puppy named Millie, a new degree, and a lot of life that has happened in-between.
In this country, we talk a lot about “small towns,” a reference to the size of a population (in our case 4,125 strong), but also evoking a sense that there is a collective group of people who go to school concerts, basketball games and holiday parades together; who see each other on Sunday mornings and in line at the movie theater; who share the dramas and comedies of every day life. We say “small town” not just as an adjective + noun, but also as a verb, a way of being.
As a regular columnist for The Icon, I will be exploring small town life as it relates to my work raising children, training a wild puppy, learning to play the banjo, updating a dusty resume, trying to find meaningful ways to contribute to this community, while, day after day, answering this question: “Hey mama, what’s for supper?