I don’t think I’ve talked a lot about the small town we live in. Actually, our little town is referred to as a village. I pulled some excerpts from Wikipedia which best describes our village.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousands (sometimes tens of thousands). Often located in rural areas villages are normally permanent, with fixed dwellings. The dwellings of a village are fairly close to one another, not scattered broadly over the landscape, as a dispersed settlement.
Historically, villages were the usual form of community for societies that practise subsistence agriculture, and also for some non-agricultural societies.
With a population of about 1300, surrounded by corn and soybeans, I would have say this description fits. Within 5-8 miles north, south, east and west of us are other little towns with populations varying from about 500 – 2500. Our local grain elevator employees the most people. We have a grocery store, library, two banks, 1 restaurant, a bowling alley, a tavern, variety store, 3 gas stations, an auto body shop, 2 mechanic shops, a tanning salon, real estate and insurance offices, 5 churches, a consignment shop, post office, a John Deere dealership (one of the largest in Illinois), an elementary school for our little town as well as 2 other small towns nearby, hair salons, a nail salon, barber, 2 parks and an ice cream shop. It’s Mayberry, minus Andy and Barney 🙂
It’s a nice little village where most people commute to work in Bloomington or Peoria, Illinois. State Farm and Caterpillar are the largest employers in this part of the state and the largest of those two nearby towns is Peoria, with a populations of about 113,000. However, Bloomington co-exists with Normal, IL and the combined population there is somewhere around 130,000. Bloomington-Normal is primarily a white collar town with a fair amount of diversity. Nothing like the diversity one would find just 2 hours north of us in Chicago, but a good amount of diversity none-the-less.
Dave and I go to Bloomington-Normal to do the majority of our shopping and Lili attends pre-school there. Bloomington is about a 20 mile drive one-way for us either taking a small county road or state highway. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I make the drive in, drop Lili off at pre-school while Naomi and I spend some quality time together. This typically includes a stop at Starbucks, errands and if time permits, a trip to the park.
By now, I’m sure everyone is wondering why I’m spending so much time talking about our little village and where we do our shopping? To share this story so you understand the impact it had on me, requires that you understand a little bit about our small communities.
Today was a typical Tuesday for me – Lili was at pre-school, Naomi and I ran to Starbucks, went to the park and then headed to the grocery store. When we’re out and about it’s very usual to come in contact with African Americans, people who moved to the area from Mexico, India, China, Thailand as well as other countries in Asia, Central and South America. Again, it was turning out to be a typical day of running errands and we were making our way through the grocery store when I noticed a woman coming toward us. I smiled at her as I turned the corner, but noticed that she seemed to have an interest in Naomi and I. I continued down the aisle when I heard someone say something and glanced over my shoulder to see this same woman walking toward us and realized that she was saying something to me. I turned around and heard her say, “Is she from Ethiopia?” But this woman wasn’t originally from Bloomington-Normal and I quickly recognized the woman’s accent and responded, “Yes. Are you from Ethiopia?” She told me she was as she ran up to Naomi and began kissing her hands, cheeks, and forehead. Naomi has been home almost 7 months and never once had I come across any adult from Ethiopia outside the Chicago area. We stood in the aisle talking for about 20 minutes as she smothered Naomi with the attention that we experienced daily in Ethiopia. She told me that she lived in Normal with her husband, her 2 year old and 3 month old. She told me that there were about 5 families from Ethiopia living in the Bloomington-Normal area. I shared a little about Naomi with her, told her about all the other families in our area who had children from Ethiopia and before we parted ways we had exchanged names, phone numbers and agreed that we would stay in contact and one day my family would go to her home so she could teach me how to make injera, Ethiopian food and have dinner with her family.
What started as a typical Tuesday became much more.
I live in a small town and was reminded once again that I also live in a small world. What a great day!!!