North Platte by foot.
i was up before dawn -- not hard, since North Platte teeters on the western edge of Central Time Zone and sunrise is about 8 a.m. this time of year. Despite a forecast of near record-breaking 80-degree heat later in the day, it was 41 degrees at 6:30. Welcome to the high plains. I had an article to revise for publication and a stack of email to answer, so I declared Day 2 my official people-watching day and headed to the local coffee shop, reputed to be where locals gather downtown. And was it ever!
The Espresso Shop had everything you can get at your local Starbucks, all delivered with an extra helping of Nebraska Nice. I ordered the biggest skim latte they had and settled down with my laptop, sneaking glances at the other customers. (I eavesdropped a little too, there was a discussion about the price of hay that eluded me completely.) the clientele was an interesting satorial mix -- work jeans and trucker hats, novelty t-shirts, some business casual. In my boot cut jeans, solid blue t-shirt and black cardigan, accessorized with a batik scarf, I actually felt a little overdressed. I was the only woman I saw all day wearing a decorative scarf. Who would have thought that I would be the snappiest dresser on Jeffers Street?
Once I finished my work, I set out to walk around the old downtown, once so familiar and now so changed. The Pawnee Hotel, still the tallest building in town, sits empty and waiting for its next act. The Paramount Theater across the street is a hippie clothing store. The Fox Theater, where my brother and I watched Don Winslow of the Navy serials and cartoon marathons, is now home to the local amateur theater company. I may get a ticket to their next production just to get a look at the inside.
Turning west, I saw a familiar bell tower a few blocks away -- my old spiritual home, the 1st Evangelical Lutheran Church. In the building, I was struck with so many odd memories. The round posts in the parish hall were still there -- of course! They have to hold up the building; but they also were good for twirling around when cover dish suppers got too boring. I went upstairs to the sanctuary and it was all the same, except the carpet, which couldn't possibly be the original. How many Sundays did I sit looking at these very same stained glass windows?
The hymns were still posted on the board, so I looked them up. The second two were after my time and unfamiliar, but the first was "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" set to the tune Hyfrydol. The melody is a favorite of mine, even more so now that Peter Mayer has written the beautiful words of "Blue Boat Home" for this sweet old tune.
This Sunday is Reformation Sunday, a very big deal in the denomination that traces its history to a firebrand monk nailing his 95 theses to the door of the church. I am planning to go, probably attending the 8:30 a.m. "traditional" service, and staying for coffee and donuts afterwards (of course!) On the way out, I also bought a ticket for the Harvest Dinner next week. Hope they don't hold it against me that I drifted away from the Trinity and became a Unitarian Universalist. I'd like to believe that a modern Luther would also have a quibble or two with church doctrine, and would add a few more theses to his very long list.
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