Oh, it’s déjà vu. About 35 years ago, when I was one of the Star Root newspaper crew, a Briceland friend sent in a scathing letter about “Garbageville,” contrasting the sterility of town with her admirable plywood home in a flowered meadow.
Since I lived and worked in G’ville and had a great fondness for the town, I responded. I love Garberville, I said, its quiet streets, its flowers, its friendly people. I think I also went into a rift on the virtues of flying carpets, since the letter writer hated cars, except the one that took her to town.
I still think flying carpets would be cool. And I still love Garberville.
When I hear from folks outside the town how bad it is, well, I’ve got to check things out.
Decided I needed to walk at least to central Garberville and back. Now, true, I walk through Garberville, even to the southern limits of the town, a few times a day. But I thought ...maybe I was missing something.
So, up the stone steps, beneath the shade of black locust, plum and bay. I said hello to my neighbor’s black cat, who scooted quickly beneath her gate. Past the beautiful lilies of the Nile, now at the peak of their bloom, in front of the Humboldt House Inn. From behind the fence I could hear splashing and cries of “Marco!” “Polo!” In front a tourist was taking a photo of the sign. She and her family were here to explore the redwoods; a trip they try to make every couple years. She loves the area, the town, and certainly the trees.
Past the used car lot, past the bar and the House of Burgess. The rosemary at the House of Burgess is doing very well. Parking lot. Pretty full. I waited for a car to back out. Credit Union. I always admire the retro look of the architecture of the Credit Union. Flavors was jumping, and no wonder; they have the best scones in the world and excellent coffee, too.
In front of Jacob Garber Square, with all its shops and the trendy upstairs restaurant, a bunch of people were gathered, sharing news and greetings. The village aspect of Garberville is something I’ve always enjoyed; folks coming in from the hills and other little towns meet here and catch up. This aspect is even stronger on Fridays, when the Farmers Market is in full swing, with music and delight and a carnival mood, but even on a Wednesday I could feel that sense of community and connection.
Left turn, past Tranquility Lane flower shop. The tawny sunflowers I bought yesterday were waiting for me beside the poetry section back at my shop, but I couldn’t resist a peek in to enjoy the tropical flowers and beauty. Up the steps to Chautauqua.
In the town square around 20 adorable children were enjoying the shade of the purple flowered locust trees, the little patch of grass, and the brickwork. I guessed they were from the nearby preschool.
At Chautauqua I got my fresh-picked local raspberries, chatted with friends in the aisles, got seduced by ginger cookies...
Outside the young woman sitting and writing poetry on the steps, her yellow legal pad on her knees, smiled as I left. “Lots of children,” she said, still watching that bright scatter of youngsters. “It’s great to see the little ones” I replied.
Down the little alley. Seemingly instant garden where there had been a trash heap. I enjoyed the beauty of the tall sunflowers. Past the old yellow plum tree with the honey-sweet fruit.
Here I ran into another friend. I was curious about his reaction to a recent planning session we’d attended, so I stopped to talk. We enjoyed sunlight and conversation till the truck with trailer and tourists stopped to ask where thrift stores might be found. Told them, and said goodbye, scampering back past lilies, under trees, and into my shop.
It was a beautiful day in a vibrant, friendly town. I love Garberville with its quiet streets, its friendly people, its trees and flowers. After 40 years, more than ever.