Matfield Green - Our first years

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Town Picnic

Yesterday morning Tom, Phil and Bill put up Jane Koger's tent in the yard between the old elementary school and high school gym, in the place where Matfield Green High School used to be. June Talkington brought his cooker. A heavy, rusted steel grill that he made with a friend one day long ago. Tables came from our house, from Tom and Phil and from the Land Institute - the organization owns the land and the buildings and has renovated the grade school for use as a low-tech conference center. They carried 40 chairs out from storage in the grade school auditorium.

Burgers and buns and paper goods were provided using proceeds from "Matfield Green Day" an annual festival that ran from 2000 to 2004, drawing a crowd, earning some money and exhausting the five or six people who made it all happen.

At four o'clock the people started arriving, with salads and desserts and a handful of children to liven up the party. Tom set up a baci ball court and 8 of us played a down-to-the-wire game: Greens 15; Reds 14.

We filled up all of the chairs and ate a lot of the food. Half the town plus a few of us from outside the city limits whose addresses still read 'Matfield Green.' Pretty good turnout I'd say. We noted that only 2 of the town's 6 elected officials attended. On the one hand, very strange. Why not show up? Don't they need the votes? But on the other hand, this is not Chicago, or even Emporia or Cottonwood Falls. Our government leaders don't need to go out of their way to stay in touch or be seen by their constituents. There is no need to pretend that they want to be at a picnic if they'd rather be somewhere else.

We learned over dinner that last week in a man was killed, hit by a car walking home from work late at night on the sidewalk-less mile of 55 mph highway between the "twin cities" of Strong City and Cottonwood Falls. The driver was a local young man of 23. Just graduated from college. A good kid. But he'd been drinking.

Even though I didn't know the dead man and have never met the driver, when the world is this small, it feels like a personal loss. There are only 3000 or so of us in this county. It's a loss we cannot afford.


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