Today I drove across the eastern planes of Colorado to Limon, a small town which fulfilled my every expectation: a town hall, a post office, a high school whose athletic program is the subject of most townspeople’s Friday and Saturday nights, the occasional abandoned building, and just a single stoplight.
On my tour of the town in a white pick-up truck, I got to witness the feeding of horses and a donkey. I got to see a Union Pacific railroad line and a gas station operation that services the ranchers who guzzle fuel.
At lunch with family friends, the question was not if we should have steak, of course, but what size steak and how well the steak should be cooked.
Similarly, for families there, it seems the question is not if you should hang an American flag on your house, but how big the flag should be and where the flag should be placed.
There have been many articles over the past few years about the decline of small towns in America. The trend is not limited to the States: cities everywhere are a stronger magnet than ever. Living in a city is a no-brainer for a knowledge worker, but after an afternoon in Limon I appreciated the accoutrements of rural living and wouldn’t mind having a second home in Small Town, USA someday. As a place to sit out in the sun and read, and go to the local high school basketball games, and barbecue steaks.
I drove home to Boulder as the sun set. Me, the setting sun, open plains and open roads. To finish off the Americanism thing, I put pedal to the metal as the quintessential expression of individuality and freedom.
I knew I arrived back in Boulder that evening when I swung by Starbucks to pick up the Sunday newspaper. After completing our transaction, the short, stocky white guy behind the counter said, "Hey, Happy Chinese New Year." I starred back at him quizzically for a second, and then said with a half-kidding grin, "Gung Hay Fat Choy to you."