Fourth of July Parades, Pimento Festival, Pirate Football, fireworks, sidewalks downtown, pull in parking on the Square, the old Courthouse that still has a Court, good roads, responsive government, ball fields and soccer fields, the Williamson walking track, the Concord walking track, Walker and his bagpipes, Chris and her bookstore, Doug and his Whooping Cranes that drop by every year (shh…that’s secret!), deer in the back yard, deer in downtown Zebulon, foxes, gobblers all fanned out strutting alongside Hwy 18 just outside Zebulon, the Shoals, horseback riders on Sunday afternoon in the spring.
I was asked by the CEO of a company pondering the move to Pike County what was so special about this place. I smiled and thought for a minute and a flood of things ran through my mind, and I couldn’t answer for a while. Finally, I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “No matter how long you’ve lived here, you are made to feel welcome. This is a special place because of the people. Sure, the mountain to the south, the river to the west, the big Courthouse in Zebulon and Hwy’s 18 and 19 dividing up Pike can define the land, but the people are the best thing this county has to offer.”
Jerry fixing my well within hours of my call, Vonda Kay helping me learn Real Estate, the Market on the Square, Lady Pirates Soccer, Blake smacking another homerun, Tripp taking my call, Roosevelt bringing gravel and dropping it right in the perfect spot, Freshway and those unbelievable strawberries last year (could you believe those?), tall timber, snakes, sweat, mud, and bird dogs.
That man got me to thinking about this place. I travel. Always have. A lot. I’ve been to many places that just hold the Earth together. This piece of dirt, right here, right now, is special. We are special because we are can-do, problem solving, forward looking, hand-up, help-out, God- fearing, God-loving, America-proud, flag waving folks. Or, like Preacher Bennie says “just plain folks”. Every once in awhile, one of us might start to think we’re just a little more special than the rest, and our britches start getting a little tight. But, it won’t take long before they find out just how important they are.
Mud-bogging, frog-gigging, fishing, hunting (but we all know bird hunting is the best), turkey calling, labs, pointers, setters, Brits, ATV’s, field trials, more bird dogs. Forsythia, jonquils, peaches, apples, muscadines, Ison’s, dogwoods (wow!), bonfires at night, Pirates games and the crack of helmets, cheerleaders, seeing the kids sitting real close(!) in the stands (But Mom, it was cold!), well water, Jason putting up fence on the day I need it, John cutting beams for the new porch, George and Ellen sharing the long history of their farm, getting help at the courthouse, walking in to the Tag Office and being done in 5 minutes, the Whiskey Bonding Barn and the writing on its walls, Sunday church, Wednesday church, Tricia and Rusty sharing Jesus.
Of course, we have our, shall we say….miscreants. But, I say, they only add to the flavor to this rich stew! And we have a few malcontents. But, if I may quote Lyndon Baines Johnson, “Any jackass can kick down a barn. Only a carpenter can build one!” Sometimes, it seems like we have a lot of those…..umm, kickers, (especially those that won’t sign their names), but, I submit, we have many more carpenters here in Pike County. We are a diverse group of just plain folks that build each other up.
Fried chicken, grits, fried Oreos, Burt’s chicken, Pike Historic Preservation, United Men of Pike, Citizens to Promote Pike, pots of food and meals that show up upon a death, pots of food and meals that show up upon a birth, shotguns in pickup trucks, Grandmas, PawPaws, Meemaws, Aunties, bubbas, Sissy, and Daddy, eating corn right off the stalk. Joy and her airport, Tommy and his restaurant, John and the Bank, (and John and the Bank), Karen and the Chamber, Concord Café and fried tomatoes, hot air balloons, airplanes doing acrobatics in the still summer air, Mom at Blimpie’s getting that order just right. This list could go on and on. Add your list.
To say I appreciate this County is an understatement. There occasionally will be a focus on the negative, but I’m here to tell you that you are special; I appreciate you, neighbor. We have so much to care about, smile about and protect. What is it that YOU really like about Pike County? Tell me. Tell your neighbor. Tell your Commissioner. (This would be a great time to crack a smile!) Like the preacher says, “We are blessed!”