Meghan and I took off for the bright lights and big city of Paris Saturday afternoon. We thought we needed a good strong dose of arts and culture, see how the beatniks and ex-pats were doing, so we loaded up my little Crosstrek and hit the road for Paris . . . Arkansas, that is.
Had ya going there for a minute, didn't I ?
Paris, AR. is about an hour or so south of Fayetteville, in between Ozark and Clarksville. We decided to skip the interstate and take the Pig Trail, so named because of all the University of Arkansas students heading south to Little Rock to see their mommas and daddies on long weekends. It's a gorgeous roadway, full of curves and scenic overlooks, and a lot of fun to take David's motorcycle on. You can get lots and lots of tummy tickles as you wind your way down the mountain.
Paris is a sleepy little Southern town, once full of life, i'm sure, but now the downtown square is deserted, all businesses having moved to the outskirts of town or being driven out of business altogether by Walmart. The courthouse and square really look like they're straight out of a movie set, and the surrounding neighborhood is full of white clapboard houses with long screened in porches, covered in shade by big elm trees and maple trees. The few people that we ran into all spoke with a long, Southern drawl, as if the heat itself made talking difficult. They were as nice as could be and I could've sat and listened to them all day long. There's something really comforting and soothing to a good Southern accent, and Southerners do like to hear themselves talk.
Meghan and I wandered around the square for a bit before getting in the car and driving over to a coal miner's museum and memorial. There was a blacksmith shop and a miner's house, completely furnished with pieces from the time that the house was built, probably around the early part of the 20th century. The caretaker was the nicest woman, full of stories about the furnishings and the family who donated the house. In fact, she was your typical Southern lady, talking to us for a good hour and a half; I felt as though I was visiting with my grandmother.
Visiting these kinds of places, experiencing the sleepiness of a quiet town square and the peacefulness of a warm spring afternoon where you can only hear the far away hum of cars and the very close hum of crickets brings out the daydreamer in me. I imagine what a town like Paris must've been like in its heyday, the square coming alive with farmers coming in on market day, local women catching up on the latest gossip, kids running around up to no good, I'm sure. Then the long lazy summer evenings, families and neighbors gathering on long porches, swatting at the flies and murmuring in quiet voices, lightning bugs dancing amongst the tree branches. Just think how quiet it would've been, how connected everyone was to each other, no emails, no social media, no Netflix. It was just neighbors reaching out to other neighbors. Doesn't that sound wonderful? I think it does.
I think I was born in the wrong era.