This is how my day in Eldon, Iowa started today. Molly Moser — who is not only the new museum curator/American Gothic House Center administrator but also a fabulously talented artist with a sense of humor as dry as vermouth — called me my from the parking lot in front of my house on my Los Angeles cell phone number to ask if I was ready. Oh, right. I had forgotten. We were going to ride the beach cruiser bikes (that had just arrived with my shipment of furniture from Portland) to the post office. It was going to be my big outing for the day. But I was still in my pajamas, drinking my cafe latte while lounging in my overstuffed daisy chair, reading the hardback copy of Garrison Keillor’s “Lake Wobegon Days” which I had purchased the day before at a flea market in Ottumwa for two dollars. No worries. I threw on my de rigueur Iowa attire — my bib overalls and flip flops — gulped down the rest of my coffee, and jumped on the bike.
There is nothing better than feeling the wind in your face at 9:00 a.m. on a crisp, early fall morning. (There is nothing worse than breathing in a little too deeply and getting a bug up your nose.) We hooted and hollered and rang our bike bells like crazy, carefree schoolgirls…all six blocks to the other side of town. (Eldon may possibly be the world’s smallest town. And most definitely it has the world’s shortest — albeit nicest — bike path.) Molly mailed her package while I dropped off that “dumb blond” coffee mug at the McHaffey Opera House thrift store, where all proceeds go to renovating the original opera house, which, like the American Gothic House, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (It would be a miracle if they could get 25 cents for that cheesy mug, meaning it could be a long time before they earn enough to start construction.)
During our big trip to “town” Molly and I stopped at two garage sales. Yes, it was a big, booming day for commerce in Eldon. Molly bought Christmas lights at the first one and a Polaroid camera for 50 cents at the second one a half block down. Score! I bought a bag of 40 watt light bulbs and six votive candles, for a grand total of 25 cents. For the whole lot. That saved me both a bundle of money AND a trip back to Target in Ottumwa, a 20-minute drive away. God, I love Eldon!
As we pedaled back to the American Gothic House I asked Molly, “What do you think the people here make of us? I mean look at us. Two new girls in town, riding on these fancy beach crusiers with a dog in the basket. I mean, do we look out of place, or what? Like city slickers who are living in the country for a lark?”
She just laughed, rang her bike bell a few times, and pedaled ahead of me because she didn’t want to be late for work. I pedaled home slowly, unloaded my purchases — and my dog — from my basket, and went back to reading in my chair. Just another day in Eldon, where this new country life suits me fine.