When I first moved to Payson, I spent a lot of time quietly looking around. I knew that in a matter of months, I would have a hard time making it through the grocery store or the post office without running into people I knew.
And I was right. These days, I have to plan an extra 20 minutes for my errands just for conversation in parking lots and the produce section.
In a small town, anonymity does not last long.
But during those first few weeks, I was still a stranger and you were all strangers to me. I could look around me, without pre-conceived notions.
I still remember the faces I saw in those first few days.
I saw a man in a fresh pressed shirt and a clean cowboy hat taking his wife out to a movie. The skin on his neck was thick and crosshatched from years of working outdoors. He put his arm around his wife and you could hear the rough skin of his hands against the soft fabric of her shirt.
I saw a teenage boy, dressed all in black, pacing up and down Main Street as if he was searching for something.
I saw a waitress who served me breakfast at one restaurant and dinner at another.
I saw a man who sits on the bench in front of Wal-Mart greeting customers with a genuine smile and the occasional joke.
My mind began piecing all these people together into a kind of mental quilt of Payson, and now I would like to present that quilt to the community.
For weeks, the staff of the Payson Roundup has been working on a project we titled "Face of Rim Country."
It is a large-scale portrait project. Through this project, we hope to capture a bit of that sense of the area I just described. We would like to offer an uninterpreted, outsider's look at Payson and the surrounding towns.
There will be very little writing to accompany this project -- only photos and the briefest of descriptions of the people in those photos. Without writing, the rest will be left to the viewer.
On Friday, Aug. 4, we will publish our photos in the newspaper and show them, framed and matted, at a reception at the Payson Public Library. The event will double as a fund-raiser for the library.
Until now, the staff of the Roundup has chosen the people in our photos, but our circle encompasses only so many and we would be foolish to believe we know all people in all places. Which is why I would like to ask you to nominate anyone you feel is a "Face of Rim Country."
We have a nomination form on page 7A of this newspaper, or, as always, feel free to call me at (928) 474-5251 ext. 115.