Now That’S Progress

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I was feeling kind of edgy – and frustrated.

My life’s a mess, my neighbor’s half crazy, my dog’s got a chipped tooth – and so do I. The economy won’t mend, my house won’t sell, the legislature’s gone nuts – and I hear that the United Nations wants to send all our cute little rug rats to FEMA death camps.

But then I sat down to edit the stories in our 2012-13 Progress edition and commenced to feeling better.

Somewhere in there, I came across a picture of the dancing trees – and felt all better entirely.

Hard to stay discouraged, living in Rim Country.

Now, I know we have our issues.

Lord knows, we explore the both the hard-won progress and still-daunting challenges that face our beloved community in this issue: That includes the lackluster economy, still struggling housing market, university plans and wildfire threat.

But then I remember the good-natured cheer of the dancing trees – and suddenly I feel snugly swaddled in handstitched blessings.

You remember the dancing trees – part of Payson’s smash-hit entry in the Fiesta Bowl Parade. Arizona Public Service offered to pay the town’s entrance fee, so Payson Tourism Director Cameron Davis rounded up all the usual, community-minded suspects. Before you could say “ponderosa pine,” we had volunteer quilters spending thousands of hours making tree costumes for an amiable assortment of float accessories. Meanwhile, contractors, retirees, store owners and all manner of friendly folks pitched into build the float – take it down – put it back together – tow it to Tempe – take it down – put it back together.

Somehow, Cameron drafted just about the whole reporting staff to serve as cavorting trees, so I ended up walking backwards for a couple of miles taking the photos.

I loved it. The whole thing. Not because I’m any good at walking backwards – but because we’ve got such great people living here in Rim Country.

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Of course, that wasn’t the first time I noticed this crucial truth. I bump into those people down at the community garden. They turn out for the candlelight vigil at the Time Out Shelter. They wait patiently for their turn to speak at town council meetings and general plan workshops. They organize Saturday cleanup days on the East Verde River. They write kind letters pointing out my mistakes. They cheerfully conduct the community food drive, so no one goes hungry in this place we love. They work on the trails, stand happily in the rain, toil all day on search and rescue missions, organize grief support groups, turn out for business awards ceremonies, take pottery classes just for fun at Gila Community College, drive the vans for school field trips – and subscribe to my beloved newspaper.

So, yeah: I chipped a molar grinding my teeth waiting for the university to come. And granted, I can’t wait for businesses to make so much money that they double their ad budgets. And no doubt about it, I’m frightened by the thought that we’re letting our kids down.

But then, they’ve started construction on the Blue Ridge Pipeline and some day, some way, some how, we’re going to have a university right here in Payson.

And in the meantime:

Crime’s down.

Housing sales are up.

The community garden’s a growing.

Maybe my life’s still a mess – but I live in the best place in the world.

Besides: They’re going to start stalking trout this week.

Now, that’s progress.

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