Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Trip to America

I got depressed Saturday morning.

Reading some online news items regarding the state of our country got me down. I tried to will it away, but it nagged at me.

I’m glad, however, that I had something scheduled for the day that was guaranteed to chase the blues away.

A trip to America.

Elkins, Arkansas, to be exact.

The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I am married and I went to the Fourth on the River parade in Elkins. (Clever: have your Fourth of July celebrations on July 10th. Beats competing with everyone else). We went to help campaign for Fayetteville resident Charlie Collins in his bid for the Arkansas House of Representatives.

Wasn’t much for us to do: ride in the back of pickup truck in the parade and throw candy and hold signs.

But what a grand morning it was! When’s the last time you’ve been to an old-fashioned small town parade?

It’s America at the roots.

Had you gone, look what you would have gotten: antique cars (check out the white ’57 Thunderbird), a lone rider on a horse carrying an American Flag, the MIA-POW Honor Guard bikers, police cars, fire trucks (lots of fire trucks – does everyone in Elkins have a fire truck in their driveway?). Along the parade route: men in overalls, pretty girls, children diving for thrown candy, young couples, old couples, a decaying old barn with an old-fashioned windmill behind it, new houses, old houses, the peacefulness of the rural Ozarks.

The green hills, green grass, green trees – green, green, green (lots of rain lately), and the bright blue skies and big puffy clouds.

People are friendly. Everyone waves at passing parade vehicles. “Vote for Charlie” the woman standing next to me on the truck yells. “Vote for Charlie Collins.” People wave and smile back. “I’ll think about it,” replies one guy.

It’s a hot, humid day, but people keep cool by putting their lawn chairs under big trees. For us, there’s a perfect temperature riding the truck going 10-15 miles per hour (it’s a three-mile-long parade, all motorized on the main highway through the Elkins area, so it travels pretty fast). One woman has an umbrella as a parasol that’s shaped like a baseball cap with markings for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.

It’s a great, old-fashioned, Fourth of July parade. On July 10th.

And we’re having a great time.

The economy is crashing (witness empty stores in the Elkins area), the country is fighting two wars, the federal government is corrupt, incompetent or worse, and there is a palpable fear spreading around the nation.

It’s enough to get you depressed.

But don’t be.

Things are bright in America.

The America of Elkins, Arkansas, U. S. A.

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