They Showed Up

About a month or so before Moxie, I took a walk up the big Maple Street hill and down to my Surprise Garden.  I usually plant annuals in the spring tulip portion of the garden.  But this year was different and I kept thinking “I’ll get up there with some marigolds one of these days.”  It’s not that I was procrastinating; I had compartmentalized the task for another day because it wasn’t urgent.

I was surprised to see a bunch of green things growing.  Excuse my French, but the friggen’ Calendula was coming up like nobody’s business.  I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing these annuals as I do.  They are prolific volunteers.

Are you familiar with volunteer flowers?

Certain annuals are what they call “self-seeding.”  Their flowers bloom, die back, and then the seeds fall to the ground.  Sometimes, they survive over winter.  In the spring, these survivors grow back.

Jesus told a parable about seeds falling on good ground, the Parable of the Sower.

In the days leading up to The Moxie Festival, when I was close to losing my BLEEP and I got in a big fight with Faye the Barber about the gardens at the Gazebo, I drove by the Surprise Garden.  Would you look at those volunteers?

They Just Showed UpThey showed up.

Like the men and women who show up to volunteer at Mark Stevens’ Moxie Car Show every year, or his Moxie 5k.  Then there’s Gina Mason’s parade crew.  And a big shout out to all my small town neighbors who put their lawn chairs on the parade route early and often; who clap and wave as the parade goes by.  Oh, and don’t forget the financial sponsors.  These are the people who actually write checks to fund the festival.  We couldn’t do it without them.

Every year, they show up and it’s good to know we can count on all of them.

Thank you.

Last night I went to Yarmouth to hear my brother give a talk about town team baseball.  A few of the former “Yarmouth Townies” are going to be in the parade, just like the year some of the Roberts 88’ers were in the Moxie Parade.  The little Cumberland County town is proud of their Clam Festival and it’s kind of a joke in Yarmouth to see who will put their chairs out on the parade route first.  As I drove down West Elm Street and past the high school last night, what I felt was town pride.  The town was buzzing with it.  Why not?  Yarmouth is celebrating their 50th Clam Festival, beginning today.

You know, living in a small town isn’t always perfect.  You can feel it in the weeks leading up to The Moxie Festival.  Stress builds and there’s a lot to do; there are never enough people to do everything that needs to be done.  There’s always a lot of gossip.  And rumors that aren’t true.  It’s easy for anyone to lose their BLEEP.

But you know what?

I was looking at some of the 2010 Census data about Yarmouth and Lisbon.  Population-wise, Lisbon is a little bigger than Yarmouth, by about 660 residents.  But did you know that the per capita income of residents of Yarmouth is about twice that of Lisbon?  I’m not saying it’s all about the money.  In fact, I’m not saying that at all.  I guess what I’m saying is that given all the circumstances, our little town does a pretty damn good job of putting on a distinctively different festival that welcomes up to 50,000 people over three days.

We’ve got Moxie.

And y’all should be proud of that the next time you drag your lawn chair down to the parade route.

I know, sometimes when we’re living in the middle of it we don’t have perspective and we can’t see what it looks like from the outside.  I’m guilty of that kind of myopia, too.  But I talk to people who come here from other places and I ask them hard questions, like “why did you drive here from Vermont (or Pennsylvania, or Aroostook County)?”  And almost everyone I talk to says “I just like the small town feel in your town.”

Well, when someone tells me that, my heart does swell up with pride and I have to wipe a little tear from the corner of my eye.  Because that’s what I love about our town too…and that’s why I moved home.

But I’ve gotten distracted from my premise, haven’t I?  I was talking about volunteers and showing up.  Yup, we can always use a few more volunteers who show up or who write checks.  Think about it for next year.  You’ve got time, 359 days, more or less.

It’s Friday and it’s a beautiful day here in Maine.  Some of you had better be on your way to Reid State Park or Popham Beach.  But before you leave, pencil these dates down on your calendar:

July 8 – 10, 2016

Those are next year’s Moxie Festival dates.  We’ve already started planning and despite what I might have said during my fight with Faye, I’m not giving up on the festival.  It was the heat of the moment, and all that.  No friggen’ way I’m giving up the Moxie Festival.

I love this town too much.  And you should too!

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8 Responses to They Showed Up

  1. Bob Earle says:

    I’m with you Julie Ann! I love our town and can’t wait for next year’s Moxie! By the way…I remember those old town ball clubs. I’m an 88’er for life.

  2. Gina Mason says:

    Well good, my threats to you when you said you were “retiring” from Moxie paid off!

  3. Jim says:

    JAB, I’m glad you’re planning to keep showing up for Moxie. As I mentioned during my “Talk of the Townies” at the Yarmouth HIstory Center, towns like Lisbon need to find their way back to the spirit of volunteering that was prevalent 50+ years ago if small communities are going to make it. Obviously, there’s a strong core group. There just needs to be a few more people showing up, doing one thing that they’re good at, or willing to do.

    • It’s great how so many small towns keep the summer festival tradition alive. And each festival is different. I’m glad to be part of The Moxie Festival, Maine’s “distinctively different” summer festival.

  4. mark says:

    Thankful for you Julie-Ann! Happy Thanksgiving!

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