Brian and I spent a most pleasant last Saturday morning in downtown New Castle at the Henry County Farmers Market. He read a library book and enjoyed the weather while I chatted with passersby almost nonstop and moved some books.
“I know you,” one lady who stopped at our table told not me, but Brian.
“Me? I’ve never met you ma’am. How do you know me?” he asked.
Of course the answer is that in the nearly three decades I’ve worked at The Courier-Times I’ve written a column about life, and life of course includes family as a huge component. So she’s read about the guy.
The morning reminded me how much I continue to love Henry County and its people. They are home folks and I’ve gotten to know so many wonderful ones through the years. Saturday morning alone, a good sampling of people I’ve written about or worked with happened by my space as they gathered their supply of luscious and local fruits and vegetables or maybe a stellar baked good from Sheila Tieken.
It’s fun to have Brian along with me at some of the random places I go these days because now that he’s retired, he has time for such excursions. And, I love it when our various “worlds” meet and last week they did in two ways. Along with the Saturday market, two of his friends from his career with Hamilton Southeastern Schools invited me to lunch and we agreed we’d get together again soon and bring Brian.
In a busy career where he sometimes put in 70-hour work weeks, there wasn’t much time or occasion for him to visit Henry County, aka my neck of the woods.
For the past 27 years, we’ve met in the middle, halfway between our separate workaday worlds, in Pendleton, where we raised our boys and where we continue to live. Brian pointed the car southwest and I pointed mine southeast for 26 years as we headed to our separate towns to work. It’s how we’ve made ends meet, with three communities a daily a part of our lives. They still are.
But Fishers, New Castle and Pendleton aren’t our only stomping grounds. There’s Fountain County, where we spent the 1980s, Parke County, where Brian’s folks lived out their retirement, and Union County, a place we both see as our heart’s home in ways too complex for some to understand.
I dare say we’d be comfortable living out our days in any of those places.
One of my favorite life principles is, using an old cliché, finding a way to kill two birds with one stone, or to use a modern term for the same thing, to multitask.
At Saturday’s farmers market, in addition to having a good time, seeing lots of community friends and peddling my paper goods, I scoped out three different feature stories that I’ll be pursuing for the newspaper.
I call that a good day.
Henry County may not be my home in the property-deed sense, but one thing is absolutely certain: I’m at home in Henry County.
Note: The Henry County Farmers Market is open 8-noon Saturdays until October on the east side of the courthouse in downtown New Castle, Indiana. Lots of seasonal fruit, vegetables, beef, baked goods and homemade uniques. This Saturday, July 16, is Customer Appreciation Day. Free sloppy joe sandwiches made with fresh, local beef while supplies last.