I love small towns. They have their strengths, they have their weaknesses. But they have
charm in spades.
This morning, when my boss arrived, he announced that the chief of police was going to grill free ribeye sandwiches at a nearby equine center for lunch. A moment to digress: my boss is a sponge for all kinds of information. He's a transplant from southern California, which is the best way I can describe him in a nutshell. If you want an anecdote about the time he interviewed the girl from NCIS or another time he was talking with director of Evan Almighty, you'll just have to spend time with him, because he doesn't find reasons to talk about these moments, like I would, loudly and often. They just come up in casual conversation, which makes discussions with him rather humorous and always popping up with the unexpected. At any rate, he also knows the names of the local utility guys and has an indescribable relationship with the owner of the pizza place across the street, who puts a bbq chicken pizza out on the lunch buffet when he knows Steve is coming.
So, the welcome news that free ribeye sandwiches were going to appear within a five mile radius of me landed on my ears quite pleasantly today. Around twelve thirty, I stretched, checked the directions to the local equine center with a coworker, and hopped in the car. Summer haze is stretched out across central Kentucky right now like a sticky spider web that clings to your face when you plow through it. It is a boiling sunshine. Jezebel, my trusty steed/Buick, hugged the curves out of town and I almost sailed past the lane I was aiming for. As soon as I turned down the narrow gravel path, I knew this was going to be a grand drive. The trees held hands over the stone and dirt and sheltered drunken butterflies from the dizzy heat. Toppling stone fences stood a ramshackle sentinel along the way and the lane dipped up and down as though it were in a continual curtsy.
A tidy sign pointed me down yet a narrower lane, and Jezebel and I climbed up the path next to more nodding stone sentinels slumbering from years of duty. Horse paths snaked away from the road through the brush, and I was glad that I was in a poison ivy-free car rather than crashing through undergrowth. Finally the top of a barn appeared. I knew I was at the right place when I saw a couple of police cruisers parked next to utility trucks and spied one end of a gas grill peeking from within the barn. I walked up, carefully stepping around horse evidence, and was greeted by a nondescript man with a name I recognized to belong to the mayor. The police chief sweated behind the grill but asked pleasantly, "hamburger or ribeye?" My spirit sighed with a smile as the Mayor pointed out plates, baked beans, potato salad and drinks - chilled Ale 8. The sweet smell of baked beans mingled with a dry scent of sawdust piled in the horses' stalls. I stood and chatted with a lady from city hall, and after being presented with "the best ribeye sandwich you'll ever have," was directed down to an air conditioned tack room where about ten girls who comprised the equine center summer crew sat and teased each other about boys and school and horses that kick.
God bless City Hall, even if I did just get a whopping speeding ticket recently. Jan Karon comes to mind. "Mitford takes care of its own." Whether punitively reminding me to be safe and careful or grilling me lunch.