Several years ago while living in Coastal Georgia, hot flashes and global warming took control of the upwardly moving saturation of my body. That is when my husband Babe and I began looking for a summer getaway somewhere in the mountains. It took a bit of time to find just the right town with just the right character (and characters), but our search paid off when a Saluda blip appeared on our radar screen.
Laying claim to a main thoroughfare not much longer than a football field, there are shops and restaurants lined up on one side of the street. A defunct set of railroad tracks stands sentry between the business side and all the children playing outdoors on swing sets and monkey bars in the town’s well-used playground. Squeals of their laughter can be heard even when it snows. I love that sound.
Weekends generally bring strangers to our midst, curious to find out how a town the size of ours has survived the rush of high tech, heading in a hurry toward the isolation of people everywhere. The visitors receive friendly smiles of welcome and easy chatter, but it is always difficult for any of us to portray Saluda in mere words.
”We think Saluda is a special place,” it might be said to a stranger. Or, ”Saluda is kind of like a modern-day Brigadoon, definitely a magicical town.”
Indeed, none of the residents have lived here for over two hundred years as in the mythical Brigadoon, but Saluda has no problem claiming to be the town that time forgot. That in itself makes it an attractive haven for throwbacks still remembering how things used to be back in the day.
In Saluda it is rare to see people in restaurants texting the person seated across the table from them. They actually talk to each other instead. I once even witnessed some parents boldly snatching a smart phone away from their child. ”This is called real time,” the mother said. “Get used to it.” Good for them!
The truth is, Saluda people don’t do a lot of texting because they would rather have a real conversation. They still speak and spell the language learned in grammar school and they don’t care what is going on in the Silicon Valley. Saluda people don’t give a hoot about fiber optics because electronics don’t rule their lives, inhibit their conversations or steal their humanity.
Friendly folks chat with each other as they munch on a hamburger, hot dog or a made from scratch milkshake served up in a large old-fashioned ice cream glass.
When visitors wander into one of our local cafés, it’s not unusual for them to be invited to sit for a spell. A local might talk proudly about the new grandbabies born the week before, or give an update on the Historical Society project. The stranger learns about the kind of produce sold at the Friday tailgate market.
The veggies are terrific this year, he will hear. Best doggone corn and tomatoes since 1945.
There could be a report on the Saluda Dog Society’s recent fundraiser when enough money was donated to build a new shelter. Information might be shared that the local thespians are ning to perform, It’s a Wonderful Life in December.
A tear or two will grace the eyes of an older resident when he reports, It’s official. A community barbeque will be held in the park annually with all proceeds going to the Wounded Warriors Project. God Bless America.
Saluda folks still use Ma Bell to ask about a friend’s son serving in the Middle East and they still phone each other when they just feel like saying, Hey, how’s your mama and em?
They support the lonely veteran struggling to adjust to a life without legs. They sit in church next to the widow who feels abandoned since the love of her life is no longer seated by her side. They attend town meetings; they donate blood to the Red Cross and they always, always vote.
Saluda people figured out a long time ago that caring and nurturing each other always makes a difference.
It took us a few years to permanently settle in this magical place that is not Brigadoon but comes pretty darn close. So what took us so long?
Brigadoon, Brigadoon, blooming under sable skies. Brigadoon, Brigadoon, there my heart forever lies. Let the world grow cold around us, let the heavens cry above! Brigadoon, Brigadoon, in thy valley, there’ll be love!