Sunday, August 3, 2008

News from the Countryside

On Thursday of this past week, the prominent headline on the front page of our local paper read, “BEAR RUNS WILD IN TOWN.” This newspaper, the Daily Item, originates from Sunbury, a town about 10 miles south of Lewisburg. The paper covers the central Susquehanna Valley, including such places as Selinsgrove, Milton, Mifflinburg, Middleburg, Northumberland, Danville, Elysburg, Warrior Run, and dozens of other small towns.

Of course, the Daily Item also offers news from Pennsylvania cities, from other states (when the stories seem juicy enough), and from around the world. But for all these sources, the prominent headline was about a bear wandering around downtown Lewisburg. It inspired me to dig through our pile of “waiting to be recycled” newspapers. Here are prominent headlines:

Thursday, July 24: Want 60% better mileage?
Friday, July 25: Park hit by blackout
Sunday, July 27: Woman saved teen’s life
Monday, July 28: Goodbye, produce aisle
Tuesday, July 29: Doctor sees poverty’s toll
Wednesday, July 30: Constable reform sought
Thursday, July 31: BEAR RUNS WILD IN TOWN
Friday, August 1: Without pact, airport closes
Saturday, August 2: Bailout offer on table

There were other headlines each day, but these were the ones accompanied by color photos. In ten days (couldn’t find July 26’s paper), our headlines told about a man who built a hydrogen generator to improve his car’s gas mileage, about a blackout at an amusement park, about a woman pulling a kid from a wrecked car, about buying crop shares to reduce your grocery expenses, about a medical doctor’s experience as a volunteer in Zambia, about a desperate need to provide better oversight of constables throughout Pennsylvania, about a bear, about a local airport closing because of financial trouble… and then about a bailout offer to keep the airport running.

The point? These were big stories for our community. We have wilder and crazier news weeks, but they are few and far between. One appealing aspect of rural living is that most of our exciting headlines wouldn’t fall anywhere near the front page of a city newspaper (well, a bear grazing in central park or on the Boston Common might get a mention). We get to make our own excitement; the community rarely forces it upon us.

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