I bought something recently. An impulse buy. Now, I’m not that kind of a girl—usually. But here I was, buying a used lamp with a city skyline shade. Cool, huh? Hmmm. Why did I do this? I’ll explain it to you just like I explained it to the sweet clerk who checked me out.

Her: “So, you’re buying the big city shade…” Me: “Yep, I’m from the big city. I’m glad I don’t live in the big city anymore but sometimes I miss the big city, so now when I’m feeling homesick I’ll just look at my lamp.” That works, right? You betcha, Truth is, I’d rather look at the woods, the water and the wildlife than the skyscrapers any old day.

That particular day I spent the morning in Ashland doing a thing I almost never do. I drove downtown and stopped and stayed—even though I didn’t have an appointment somewhere. Even though I didn’t want to see a movie. Even though I didn’t need shoes, or a library book, or groceries, or a loaf of crusty bread. I parallel parked. I exited the vehicle. I looked around. I blinked in the bright sunshine. Then I walked down Main Street—slowly. I then proceeded to stop into two shops and to spend money in an unplanned manner. The impulse buy. Don’t tell my kids. I’ll let you in on a secret: sometimes I pretend I’m a tourist—but only once in awhile. It’s not too hard because I’m not from here or anywhere near here. And I confess, I still sometimes think people are saying “beg” when they say “bag” so I can tell that I haven’t completely acclimated yet.

One place I stepped into on my little make-believe jaunt was called The Red Bicycle. Not my kind of store normally, but today I was on a tour of the town. Can’t say I’ve ever noticed that shop before. Now, I don’t want to brag or advertise, but when you can stop in a shop that you drive by all the time and that you’ve never noticed before, and you can end up having coffee with a lovely lady who takes the time to answer all your silly questions and basically gives you a tour of the place, now that’s something.

And that seems to be the kind of town we have here, in Ashland—and that’s something for sure. Not the big city, but not such a small one, either. Does size matter? Maybe sometimes, maybe not. But I’m thinking what matters most is the size of the hearts of the people living in a place. And do you know what? The hearts here are big ones, full of kindness and warmth, even in the cold days of winter. And this day was a cold day of winter. The sun was shining though, and my heart was light. People on the street were smiling and every one of us seemed to be very happy to be just where we were—on a downtown Main Street sidewalk, on a weekday morning, in the seven degrees temperature, in the sunshine. Go figure. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t believe that was the temp because it seemed much warmer. Could be I’m just getting used to the cold; or maybe it’s the people—yep, that’s the best bet, I think. Warm hearts, warm smiles and warm wishes. It’s contagious, and can’t help but warm you up, give you a little glow. A little city with a big heart, and hung with garland, even. Thank you Ashland.

So maybe I’ll see you there

We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares

So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re

Downtown, don’t wait a minute for

Downtown, everything’s waiting for you.

From ‘Downtown’ composed by Tony Hatch

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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