Thursday, March 1, 2012

Defining a Town

A recent local tragedy has caused me to pause and reflect on America's perception of a small town, only 30 minutes away, that my family knows well and often enjoys.

The unthinkable has happened. Many of you may or may not know our local, neighboring town of Chardon, Ohio fell victim to school violence. When the tragic event occurred this past Monday, there was hope the student gunman's 5 victims would be OK after being treated for gunshot wounds. Tragically, 3 out of the 5 high school students passed away from their injuries.


I felt compelled to write this story since my husband's family called Chardon, Ohio their hometown. My husband grew up there. My sister-in-law went to the very same high school where this unnerving tragedy occurred.

As the details of that day lead national nightly news stories, it heavies my heart to think the rest of America sees Chardon in this light. My post today is not to focus on Chardon's losses, but rather to remind people of Chardon's blessings. When you think of Chardon, Ohio, I don't want you to instantly think of this school shooting that stole away Chardon's small-town innocence. I want you, instead, to know Chardon the way I know Chardon, and, I think, the way Chardon wants to be recognized. The core being of Chardon has never been brought to the surface more than in lieu of this tragedy.

Chardon, Ohio is as small-town USA as you can get. Quintessential Main Street is home to mom-n-pop shops, antique treasure troves, and home-cooking restaurants. The center-of-town's streets outline the grassy commons creating a Square, complete with gazebo and paved-brick walking paths. The town would be a feast of wholesome inspiration to Norman Rockwell's paint brush and palette.

Chardon is best known for its abundance of maple trees and, of course, its divine production of maple syrup, the finest liquid gold on the planet, in my opinion. Located in the Town Square, the Sugar Shack will soon bellow smoke and steam from it's sturdy, stone chimney. The smokey sweetness of maple syrup production wafts through the air and lingers in the nostrils on even the coldest of days in this, Ohio's heart of the snowbelt.

Soon, Chardon will welcome visitors to it's yearly Maple Festival. Although celebrations will be rather subdued this year, it is the effort to go on that helps us realize life continues to move forward. If you go this year, be sure to grab yourself a maple stir at the Sugar Shack. Never had one? Don't deny yourself any longer. You'll get a small pouring of boiling hot maple syrup in a bowl with a spoon. Start stirring. Keep stirring. As you cool the syrup while you stir, the liquid begins to turn into a maple butter, then fudge, then finally hard candy, if you resist long enough. Sweet and delicious! Yes, laughter and good times will come to Chardon, once again.

Another aspect not captured well in newsreels is Chardon's tight-knit community. The people in this town possess strong spirits and their spiritual faith runs deep. This week's awful blight of a teenager's misguidance has caused the people of Chardon to come together and support one another as their healing begins. Chardon is good. Chardon is strong. Chardon is one heart.

The events from Monday wounded Chardon deeply. What time will make better, time can never make right. I wanted to introduce you to Chardon, a wonderful, strong community filled with good people and gracious, forgiving hearts. I didn't want this tragedy to define Chardon, Ohio to the rest of America and the world. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know the true essence of this fine town. It deserved the recognition for it's true gifts instead of recent notoriety. God bless the Chardon community and may God make your healing whole.

Please send this post along so others may know the "true" Chardon. Thank you.


Betty Sneeringer said...

This is a great tribute to Chardon. Would love to visit those antique stores. I want a sugar stir.


Lefty said...

I WILL pass this along Lilly! Simply beautiful!

Suzan Wood-Young said...

Great post Lilly, so thoughtful and positive! and I learned something new ... I had no idea there was maple syrup in Ohio!

Kelly said...

Hi Lilly! I'm from that area too. This is a great tribute to the real goodness of Chardon. Nice to meet you!

Marybelle Beigh said...

Thank-you for sharing the love and beauty of Chardon! My name is Marybelle Beigh and I'm the town and village historian in Westfield NY, a small town quite similar to Chardon... we tap maple trees too, but are more noted for Concord grapes and grape juice and wine... Welches Grape Juice Company started here in 1897. And I was thrilled to see that Chardon and Westfield have almost identical town clocks on their village square or park! I was given your URL by one of my clients whom I believe is your father-in-law. My prayers are so much with all of you in Chardon re this terrible tragedy and I am glad that you are sharing the beautiful side of your community, with compassion.

Hubby said...

To Chardon,
Thank you for:
-The many, many gallons of delicious syrup I have consumed in my lifetime.
-The sometime frigid, but always fun Maple Festival (parades, carny food, pony rides, pancake breakfasts, and MAPLE STIRS)!
-Being a part of my formidable years (especially Teachers Miller, Danbury and Whiteman).
-The maple ice cream (and other treats) at Richard's Maple Products.
-Staying true to your core values.

In time, the grief shall pass but the sap will still be flowing.

Syrup Snob Hubby said...

Not sure how it compares to Canadian syrup, but Ohio Syrup is much better than the product they make in Vermont (to my palate). For those who think they don't like real maple syrup, I recommend they try Northeastern Ohio syrup. It doesn't have the bitter note that is typical of the more commonly available Vermont syrup. According to the botanists at the Holden Arboretum, it has something to do with soil and climate differences.

Suzan Wood-Young said...

Hard to say how they compare. Canadian syrup is also made in different parts of the country...Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia are the general regions I know of. Our family roots are in Nova Scotia so that's probably why we lean in that direction. It would be interesting to have a taste test - though being a T1 diabetic I couldn't participate, but I'm sure my family members wold love the challenge!


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