The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

16 July 2011


I'm at Oma's for a few days, during the height of The Season (meaning tourist season). For ten months of the year, The County is a quiet place where proprietors operate on a come-by-chance policy, and locals are able to pretend the Big City is far, far away.

All that changes for months eleven and twelve. Suddenly there is traffic on the roads, restaurant tables are hard to score, and every other little house hangs out a sign offering everything from preserves, to duck decoys, to refurbished bicycles - not to mention arts and crafts of all sorts.

Oma's house sits on the outskirts of 'the downtown shops' of a very small village. 'Down town shops' is how a real estate agent tried to sell a village property to recreation-home seekers from the above mentioned Big City. The shops include a gas station/convenience store, post office,and tiny library.

Just beyond her front garden is a three-way stop, which the locals interpret as an invitation to yield. It is where three loops of varying distance converge, and it is essentially possible to get anywhere at this end of The County from either of those loops, if you're prepared to drive long enough,and pay attention to the helpful directional signs posted along each route.

At off-season times, almost all traffic passing by is local - folks who know exactly where they're headed, and how to get there.  During tourist season, however, much entertainment can be derived from the many many vehicles that drive by, then show up at the stop sign a little while later from a different direction. Then reappear once more coming the other way.  Then sit for a few moments while the two people in the front seats gesticulate wildly at each other.  At which point the car goes into reverse and tries a previous tack once more... just in case.

Each car/van/trailer/motorcycle team offers infinite scope for speculation and story-spinning. Who are they?  Where have they come from?  Where are they going and what do they hope to find there? Did they actually check a map before hitting the road? Do they realize the sand dunes belong to a lake, and not our village pond? How close is Mrs. Tourist to getting out of the car and walking because Mr. Tourist will not listen to her suggestions?  How often have Timmy and Jane Tourist pointed out the ice cream sign at the gas station?

Opa used to plot ways to have some fun with them: everything from printing up maps to offer at a very 'reasonable' price, to egging them on in their looping travels.  I think a paint gun would be great fun.  I would daub each one, then count the dots each time they went by.

As Mr. Bennet would say: what are our neighbours for after all, but to provide us with a little sport?

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