“Welcome to Clinton!”

This full moon has been wreaking havoc with my sleep patterns.  After waking up between 4 and 5am for a couple of days, I thought I had it beat yesterday, when I slept ’til 7.  Then I worked so long and hard yesterday, I was ready for bed at 7 last night, and woke up at two o’ clock in the morning, unable to get back to sleep.

Besides the Family Farm Breakfast in St. Paul at the beginning of the week, where I needed to be up super-early, I’m guessing a lot of it has to do with the lengthening days, the bout of warm spring-promise weather we had, and the stress from finding out my mom is sick.

Oh, and I’m moving to Clinton.

It took me a while to find a place to rent.  There isn’t really any centralized way of going about that process in a town of just over 400–I just put an ad in the Northern Star and asked around until I got a call about this little house on a double lot (hello, garden space!) that was being vacated by the previous tenant.

Yesterday afternoon, H and I headed out there and started working on cleaning–we rented a steam cleaner and H did the carpets while I scrubbed the kitchen.  I had stopped by there the day before to turn up the heat a little, but when we got back, it was still cold.

When I went down to the basement to check the furnace and fuel oil tank, I heard a disturbingly hollow sound when I tapped on that tank.  Several calls and stops later, we had the delivery set up.  I got a post office box.  I dropped off my rent check.

And everyplace I went, people were extremely helpful (even if they couldn’t help me).  Bonnie at the grocery store gave me the scrub brush from her back room because she didn’t have one in stock.  The postmistress offered to help with with the somewhat tricky, but incredibly cool old-time combination lock post office boxes.  The gal at Border States Co-op got me the number for the fuel oil place.

And they all said, “Welcome to Clinton!”

The guy who came to deliver the fuel oil told me he’s retired, but that he likes to help out.  He tried to help out by re-starting the furnace, but it needed more work than he had time or tools for.  So, he gave me the name of another retired guy in town who might be able to help.

Wally didn’t sound super-enthused about working on a furnace when the random stranger (me) called just before dinner-time, but he admitted his dinner wasn’t ready just yet, and came right over.  And he got the lines bled and the heat going in about ten minutes and charged me ten bucks.

And despite being a little hesitant over the phone, he was incredibly nice–and I’m not just saying that because I had been keeping warm only by dunking my hands in hot soapy water for the previous two hours.

Both Wally and my fuel oil delivery guy were genuinely curious about why I was moving to their little town.  Clinton has seen its population decline steadily for a number of years, and it must seem strange when a person with no family in the area would decide, seemingly randomly, to live in a tiny little burg like theirs.

I told them a little about my work with local foods, and that seemed to suffice.  I left out the part about my dreams for rural revolution, community, and such-like revitalization talk that probably would have sounded a little crazy–especially coming from a person who was already a bit twitchy from the cold.

You don’t want people you’ve just met–people who are good enough to show up and help you even though they’re retired and even though it’s dinner time–to start questioning your sanity.  At least not right off the bat.

But the fact that complete strangers did show up to help me, that people wanted me to feel at home and to be warm and to have a scrub-brush and a post office box–that people were so welcoming and helpful–is about the best reason I can think of to move to a little town on the prairie.

“Welcome to Clinton,” indeed!



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