The Compass Rose

I love small towns.

I love knowing that each and every street is paved in criss-crossed paths and intertwined connections, more in the metaphorical sense than the literal. I love that people from small towns actually know their neighbours’ names, remember the day the stop lights were put in, and can rhyme off quick, detailed explanations- without even looking- when leaning into the passenger-side window to give directions to passers-by who just-so-happen to have taken the scenic route: ‘pass the house with the blue painted porch, hang a right at the one with white aluminum siding, the green shutters not the black ones, then go straight until you get to the brown brick…’ 

So it should never have been a surprise that I would meet someone, one of those artistic, worldly, ample-minded souls with whom you become instantly besotted, and find out that this huge person comes from a town so small you can see the whole of it in the span of one vista from any direction on the compass rose. Like, I mean small enough that you can stand atop the North Street hill looking down towards ‘town’, where your mind sub-consciously registers a pharmacy, a bank, a gas station, a pub, two coffee shops, the hardware, and the one grocery store that sells food but dishes gossip out for free, and let your eyes scan the horizon all the way to the end: to the end of town; to that place right there where population ends and everywhere else begins.

Three thousand souls. Do they even make towns that small anymore?

But she’s so smart, so chic, so limitless…how could she be from such a miniature place? My cynical urban self thinks.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? When you come from a small town your mind has two choices: it either languishes or broadens. If you’re one of the lucky ones whose thoughts instinctually reach beyond the last fence post, jump over the train tracks, and run down the dusty side roads, you’re blessed with the fortune of traveling much further intellectually and creatively than those limited by any physical or mental borders.

What else is there to do, when growing up in said Tiny Township, but cultivate a ripe imagination? When you’re hemmed in by nothing more than farmers growing crops of the corn variety, it’s only expected that your inner harvest would become the product of your own creativity.


“Reason clears and plants the wilderness of the imagination to harvest the wheat of art.”  

-Austin O’Malley


And that’s how she is, I reflect, as my tarnished urban armour is peeled away and set aside. This huge person from such a small town is like a prairie flower transplanted to the rooftop gardens of my mind, and left to blossom into wild roses that grow in all directions, as far as my eye can see.


“The compass rose is nothing but a star with an infinite number of rays pointing in all directions. It is the one true and perfect symbol of the universe. And it is the one most accurate symbol of you. Spread your arms in an embrace, throw your head back, and prepare to receive and send coordinates of being. For, at last you know—you are the navigator, the captain, and the ship.”

-Vera Nazarian


I love small towns and the big people that live in them.

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