The word village puts me in mind of a country hamlet in Ireland or a Swiss chalet snuggled inside a valley framed by snowcapped mountains. I love villages.
Louisiana has parishes; Pennsylvania has townships; New York may still have a few touristy type villages, but authentic villages are becoming a thing of the past. That makes me sad.
I discovered the St. Simons village in 1961. According to legend, if you get St. Simons sand in your shoes, you will always return. For years my young sons and I returned each summer to frolic on the beach and eat shellfish until our skin turned the color of cooked shrimp. We plodded the shoreline in search of non-existent shark’s teeth and, after filling our shoes with more sand, hit the village to fill our tummies with homemade ice cream.
My little boys were grown men by the time I returned. Like Resurrection Fern, the village of St. Simons Island bathed and transformed my wilted spirit and welcomed me home like a mother.
Some time later, hot flashes and global warming compelled us to find a summer cottage in the mountains. It took a while but our search paid off one fine day when a North Carolina village blipped on our personal radar.
Saluda, North Carolina lays claim to a main street not much longer than a football field. There are shops on one side and a playground on the other. It’s a village where children still play outdoors on swing sets and monkey bars, and residents listen for their squeals of laughter. I love that sound.
Someone said, “Saluda is the town that time forgot.” It’s true. Saluda is a haven for those of us who sometimes wish we were back in the day. We were lucky to find a village so like St. Simons because now we enjoy the best of both worlds.
You don’t see people texting in restaurants in either of my villages. Friendly town-folk make time for chatting with each other while eating hamburgers, hot dogs and milk shakes served up in metal shakers. Should you wander in a cafe by yourself, chances are a familiar face will invite you to sit with them and get news of grandbabies born the week before or an update on the Historical Society project. You will learn all about the produce available at the open air market. “The veggies are terrific this year,” you’ll hear. “Best tomatoes since 1945.”
There will be a report on the Humane Society’s fundraiser where enough money was raised to build a new shelter. You’ll learn that local thespians will perform “It’s a Wonderful Life” in December.
You may notice a tear in your tablemate’s eye when he tells you, “It’s now official. Taps at Twilight will be held annually every Memorial Day and a barbeque is planned for the 4th of July with proceeds going to the local chapter of Wounded Warriors.”
You see, my Georgia and North Carolina village people don’t give a hoot about fiber optics and won’t allow electronics to run their lives, inhibit their conversations or steal their humanity.
My village people don’t go in for texting; they prefer real conversations. They still speak and spell the language they learned in grammar school, and they don’t even want to know about Apple’s latest gizmo.
You probably won’t find my village people on Facebook or Twitter. If they feel like saying, “Hey, how’s your mama and them,” they pick up the phone.
They make themselves available to the veteran struggling to adjust to a life without legs.
They sit next to the recent widow in church because feels abandoned since her husband died.
They attend town meetings, donate blood, vote, and endeavor to make a difference.
My Georgia and North Carolina village people figured out a long time ago that our only hope for a better world lies in people who care about each other.
I love villages.
Editor's Note: Cappy Hall Rearick is a humor columnist for the Lowcountry Sun in Charleston, South Carolina. She is the author of seven published books. Visit her at www.simplysoutherncappy.com.