Just when I thought that the national and international news could not get any more depressing, two, recent, local events slapped me up the side of the head. The first was last weekend’s three-day Pilgrimage designed to introduce both tourists and locals to the Valley’s heritage. And this Wednesday evening, September 21, the community pulled together to break bread TOGETHER. It was a communion, of sorts.
That togetherness felt so good. As good as a spa treatment plus a fabulous, low-calorie, damask tablecloth meal overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a loved one. (Yes, I know. ‘fabulous’ and ‘low-calorie’ is somewhat of an oxymoron.) Forget the low calorie. Bring on the crème fraiche! I don’t know when I’ve felt so joyous… so full of hope that we are finally on the verge of singing from the same hymnal.
Returning to the Valley, I watched the storm clouds flex their muscles. But approaching Main Street, I saw that intrepid volunteers had already set up the tables for the Community Strong Dinner scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Two rows of tables, ran end-to-end from Second Street down Main and past Lowe’s Market. The event was designed to bring the community together, if not to the same table… under the same sky. The event was free. Pulled pork and veggie burgers were provided. Participants brought side dishes to share.
Imagine 147 tables and 1200 people! It was a happening! I wanted to run right home, slip on my sandals, pull on my beads, and wear a peasant blouse. What did I do with my tambourine?
Quoting Cathy Snow who co-chaired the “happening” with Paul Leach, “We had an incredible group of people. Top of the list is Dick & Audrey Stermer, who donated Rancher’s Roost and their staff to help us. Add to that Michael Hayes, who cooked for hours at the Second Street Kitchen… and the middle schoolers, the girls volleyball team, the football team… Bob & Carolyn Reed, Peggy K, and many many more… happy sigh.”
Speaking for myself, I was thrilled to see the number of students involved. Those of us who are retired and are not volunteering in the school, are too far removed from today’s youth. Seeing the students reminded me that I need to step forward.
Although the food was good, the table settings (and in come cases the costumes) upped the ante. Pumpkins, Russian sage, kerosene lanterns, candelabra, and tea lights graced the tables and turned a pot luck on banquet tables sitting on asphalt into a happening embraced by young and old alike.
And thank you also to the Cliff Action Revitalization Team and all the forward looking/thinking activists in Silver Cliff and Westcliffe. My husband and I drove the back roads to Texas last year, and the number of dying, tumbleweed towns was startling. Storefronts with boarded up windows and streets strewn with trash are one thing, but a derelict movie house sporting a marquee that advertises a 1950s movie is telling. Thanks to Anne Relph who has not only saved the Jones but also revitalized live theater in Custer County. we have a lot to be proud of. Relph has shown the way. If we don’t move forward, stagnation will be the death of us.
As for the ominous storm clouds that threatened to rain on our parade, they held off in recognition of the electricity that was already in place.