There is still so much to love about Southern Pines, despite — or maybe even because of — these dismal days through which we now find ourselves struggling.
Therefore, since it has been a while since I indulged myself in one, please allow me to offer another list of just a few of the many sources of my fondness for this splendid little town in which wife Brenda, daughter Kate and I were so fortunate to land 23 years or so ago.
I love the fact that, despite the economic near-desperation that seems to have descended on so many other communities surrounding us, it’s still hard to find a parking place in our busy downtown. So much going on. So many stores and businesses are still hanging on, if not always thriving. And surely things can only get better as the months grind on.
The same goes for our treasured Sunrise Theater — even if all it can offer at the moment is virtual movies and occasional outdoor presentations with well-dispersed audiences.
You’ve got to treasure the fact that it’s still all but impossible to walk up and down the sidewalks on either side of Broad Street without running into someone you know and stopping to chat with them. Though we may take that for granted, consider how wonderful it would feel to someone accustomed to walking amid thousands of strangers in some big city.
The same goes for our neighborhood along and around North Weymouth Road, where we all mostly know each other and always wave or stop to talk (even with masks and/or social distancing) when passing someone’s home.
Speaking of Weymouth, how can you not love the nearby Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities? Even though it’s not possible at the moment to spend a coveted week there as a writer-in-residence, the well-kept grounds are still perfect for walking the dog, dozing under a tree, or holding a (well-spaced) get-together, as our guys’ breakfast group has done lately.
It’s also great having the spacious Campbell House Park across the street from our front yard. (Except when careless golfers are hitting balls a little too close, numbers of which have landed in our yard over the years.)
And how can you not love our blessed Emmanuel Episcopal Church, even if watching brief remote services on your computer screen is hardly the same as all those years of going up to Communion, serving on the Vestry, or singing in the choir? Those privileges, too, will return one day. The same thing goes for all the other beautiful churches scattered across this special community.
I somehow love having a major railroad line running right through the middle of our town. I even love hearing the mournful but somehow comforting sound of a freight train blowing its horn as it goes rumbling along the track in the middle of the night. (I know that might not be quite so nice for those living nearer.)
Even though we sorely miss the occasional opportunity to have dinner inside one of our many terrific dining establishments, you’ve still gotta love being able to pick up a burger and sweet potato fries from the Bell Tree, a juicy hot dog from the Ice Cream Parlor, some muffins from the Broad Street Bakery, or fish and chips from Ashten’s. (I know I’m leaving out a whole lot of other great places, but there’s only so much space.)
I love all the elegant, distinctive and sometimes eccentric-looking architecture of so many of the houses in so many Southern Pines neighborhoods, especially the older, closer-in ones. Each home has its own personality, and you’ll seldom see any of the cookie-cutter sameness that prevails in newer communities.
I could go on. (And I would welcome any offerings along these lines from you, Dear Reader.) But even in the difficult days, it never hurts to pause once in a while and recognize how much we in this community have to thank our lucky stars for.
Steve Bouser is the retired editor and Opinion editor of The Pilot. Contact him at email@example.com.