It is a storyteller's gold mine, Green Mountain Falls. If you are struggling to dream up quirky characters, people that a reader will fall in love with, you'll find plenty within those small town city limits. At least, I know I'm falling in love with them.
Of course, there's Oscar, the 90 year old feisty Swede whom I encountered walking around the lake when my parents came to visit. We met him as we made our way toward the local cafe, where we were served by a lively woman with the most classic diner voice I have ever heard: loud, a little raspy, and full of "honey" and laughter. She served me what might be the best cornbread I've ever eaten.
At church, I often sit behind one of my favorites--a quiet, unassuming local artist whose face provides a sort of comforting familiarity. This week she was next to an elderly British woman who is full of questions, and who told me this week how much she loves retirement. When she first met me, she immediately tried thinking of ways to help fund my rather expesive education. None of the ideas panned out, of course, but I was delighted in her effort none the less.
During the coffee hour, you'll see an old man, hunched over but full of life, who sneaks up behind unsuspecting kids and pretends to steal their lemonade. They all know him and laugh. Meanwhile, twin 8 year old boys run around looking for mischief and usually finding it. Even better are the twin 2 year olds--a boy and a girl-- who often sit closeby during the service. The girl is shy but smiley. Her brother just chats away, oblivious to prayer or Scripture reading or song. It reminds me a lot of my own brother and me, though we aren't twins.
One of the quirkest characters is a middle aged woman from New Jersey. She hasn't lost an ounce of the accent, nor of the personality for that matter. She told me once her dream would be to become a missionary, though her husband would never go for the idea. I smile as I think of it; The only way to truly paint the picture would be to title it, "My Cousin Vinny Goes Evangelical". I hope she gets that dream someday.
I am starting to find comfort in this town full of eccentrics. They begin to feel like home the way an old rocking chair does. Those in the that tiny church cannot be united by social or economic homogeniety, or by a common age group, as is the case in so many churches. No, they are a band of characters held together by the glue of Christ and small town hearts.
When the ties that bind are as simple as that, it's no wonder that a stranger like me can so quickly feel at home.