“The simple truth is that you can understand a town. You can know and love and hate it. You can blame it, resent it, and nothing changes. In the end, you’re just another part of it.”
― Brenna Yovanoff
Small Town living
Photographers capture moments and freeze them in time. They catch configurations of light and dark, objects and space, people and things, that tell stories and reflect back to us where we have been and who we are in the world.
I love Guy Harvey’s photography, and of course, his photos of Iowa and particularly of Fairfield, are part of my story. How many times have I walked this Alley with its bricked paved road and the storefronts of local small business owners? There is Dotty’s Sewing Nook, owned by Dotty, of course – she’s been there since before I arrived in town in the early 80’s. Then there is this view of the Fairfield Courthouse with the steeple and clock. The Fairfield Weekly Reader, the small local paper where we find out what’s playing at the Coffee House or what apartments are for sale, or who has just started up a new business, has moved to another location, still in town. Paving the alley was part of a beautification project headed by locals who procured the resources – this project represents hours of care and attention, hard work, commitment, and love.
We live moment to moment and the artist captures fleeting time and anchors our life experiences to give us roots and a sense of belonging.
Photograph by Guy Harvey Photography
One of the best things about living in a small Midwestern town is being able to enjoy the charm of a town square. Town squares make me think of a time before people shopped at malls and when the town was the center of commerce and community celebrations. They remind me of a time when small businesses thrived and people could make a good living working for themselves and providing services and goods locally. You knew the owner of the hardware store, you took your television into the local repair shop when it went on the blink, and you relied on a corner store for a place to get a quart of milk.
I think my community of Fairfield, Iowa, is lucky to have a town green that has become the perfect venue for our numerous gatherings. It helps give us a sense of belonging to see our friends showing up at musical concerts, art walks, and cultural events. Psychologists recognize the innate need of human beings to belong and see faces they recognize everyday.
Our town square has a central Gazebo in the middle of a park and is surrounded by streets and shops on four sides. And each year, after Thanksgiving, for as long as I’ve lived here (since 1983), the town has put up the same winter holiday lights and decorations that have been part of its tradition since the fifties. We are joined and connected with proceeding generations by our enjoyment of the lights, the Santa House, the reindeer, and all of the other symbols of the season that have delighted children and adults for decades.
Happy Holidays to Everyone in the World from Fairfield, Iowa.
See more of Guy Harvey’s photos.