Notes From My Knapsack 8-12-10
When a Clique Is Just a Clique
High above, the tent caterpillars and webworms are hard at work, with the bagworms sprouting their little fake pine cones on the spruces a little closer to the earth.
In the ditches and medians, ironweed has unfurled its full six foot and more frame, already sprouting blazing, vibrant purple flowerheads at the top, well before the usual Feast of the Assumption outbreak alongside yet unseen goldenrod.
Goldfinches, though, are out among the cardinals and blue jays, and the August wilt of foliage means they're all a little easier to spot on a walk or hike than they were a month ago.
High summer is giving us a big clammy hug, whether to settle in or to leave we're not quite sure. Last weekend was the Hall of Fame Game up in Canton, and football practice is rolling through the last of two-a-days and other brutal rituals of summer's end.
We've got the Great Granville Picnic coming up this weekend, a relatively new tradition that feels already as if it goes back to 1805. Since the village is eating outdoors in the same general location as those first settlers, that's not too much of a stretch, but it's only since the 2005 bicentennial that we've been doing this every other year.
It's a wonderful scene out of a movie's happy ending, the sun setting beyond Sugar Loaf at the end of Broadway, and the tables marching back past Denison's Fine Arts Quad towards the Main St. intersection at the Four Corners.
Folks have already reserved their tables, and gathered friends around them, and while there's much milling about and mixing on the sidewalks, swapping of bread and salad dressings, for the most part, people will sit with and talk to those they already know.
It's part of the genius of Granville that we can use our public spaces so regularly for truly public purposes, going back to the Latin "populus," the people gathered. Farmers' Markets, Bluesfests, street fairs at the Fourth, and the Candlelight Tour are just part of where the population comes and mixes, somewhat, on a common platform.
There's always a strain of worry, particularly in the beginning of a new school year, about cliquishness, the tendency for folks to clump and stick together, and not just because of the humidity.
What's often said is that Granville is particularly cliquish, standoffish, not-terribly-welcoming. After having lived here since 2004 and around the county since 1989, I'd opine that such descriptions are both true and not-true.
It's true in that relative to other nearby communities, it's definitely a challenge to walk into many gatherings around Granville and find a relaxed and friendly outstretched hand. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's a bit slower, and not unusual to have not happen around town.
But I think it fair to say it's not quite true in this: Granville has more residents (my impression, hard to prove, but I'd assert) not from here, not from Ohio, than almost anywhere else in the county. And there's a certain amount of ongoing turnover, to boot, not just with the college, though that's part of it.
What you get in our idyllic burg is a tendency for all of us who don't have parents and cousins and families nearby to look for a "new family" of sorts. The groups that get negatively called cliques are often simply self-created kinship groups, sisters or brothers or family by other means, replacing that which we've, so many of us, left behind in another city or state or even country.
It does create certain challenges for community building, but I think we're better off for calling it an expression of a positive need, not a negative thing altogether.
Consider that and tell me what you think, as you walk this Saturday among the many ad hoc families around their temporary tables on Broadway.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him about your kinship groups at email@example.com, or follow Knapsack @Twitter.