• Last modified 901 days ago (April 11, 2019)



© Another Day in the Country

After living in the country for a couple of decades, I’ve come to wonder why anyone has the courage to run for public office.

All you have to do is read the news reports to discover how difficult it is to be a county commissioner or any kind of public servant. It’s a given that everyone isn’t going to agree with how you do whatever job you’ve aspired to … especially in a small puddle where there’s only a limited amount of fish. And, come to think of it, there’s also a limit in how far you, as a fishy metaphor, can swim, and what resources there are for you to survive, let alone thrive.

When I jumped into the puddle named Ramona, I landed in a school of relatives — fish who’d been swimming in this pond all of their lives. They knew who the sharks were and what dangers lurked in the shallows. I sometimes laugh to think of my sister and I landing in the pond of Ramona like a couple of store-bought goldfish in a catfish pond.

We wanted to fit in, assimilate, and make friends, figuring that Ramona would be our safe haven, our home for years and years to come. Even if we left, swam the world, we’d always come back, like salmon braving the rapids to return to their spawning grounds. Not necessarily how things work out, but we did buy a plot in the cemetery.

Raised in a religious household with the ideal of service to others and volunteerism built into our lifestyle, we found ourselves in a dying small town, with a handful of productive people. Most of them were tired, if not retired. We just happened to be related to folks like that in town, who, with their longtime friends, were the stalwarts, the community pillars. But they were also aging.

Aunt Gertie had been a teacher, putting on programs, leading community events, for years and years before we got here. Uncle Hank served as city clerk for something like 30-plus years, faithfully taking minutes at city council, minimum minutes, I might add, like “we were all here.” Aunt Naomi was the president of the senior center in her later years, almost single-handedly keeping the coffers stocked to make them a viable entity in the town.

It was natural for us to want to get involved in whatever we thought might be helpful for the town.

“You need someone to represent Ramona on an econmic development committee? We’ll do it.”

“You need someone to take minutes at the city meetings? I’ll be glad to,” said my sister. That was the year 2000 and she’s been doing it ever since.

“Are you working at breaking Uncle Hank’s 30+ year record?” I tease her.

We hadn’t been here long before the mayor called and asked if I would be a council member. They’d had someone resign. I said, “I’d be glad to,” and within a year or so I actually ran for re-election. That year the mayor resigned and I found myself the mayor of Ramona because I’d served the longest (which hadn’t been long at all) on city council. This was something I’d never done before. And I discovered that my training in psychology proved helpful, but was no guarantee for a peaceful, cooperative era in rural Ramona.

We did our best! The council was a good group. We all tried our hardest to “save the town,’” and “preserve it for the future,” and “make it a safe place.” All good things, so I was amazed when one night at city council a group marched in calling for my impeachment.

Of course, it didn’t happen, it was someone angry at life and perceived injustices, inciting gossip and fear which turned mean and vengeful and they just aimed it at me. It was difficult to process, and felt like being chewed on by piranhas.

A friendly fish from another pond called one day and said, “Come by. I’ve made something for you.”

We drove over to McPherson and she invited us in. “It’s Impeachment Pie,” she said, handing me the most beautiful, luscious, delicious, mouth-watering slice of peach pie with vanilla ice-cream on the side. We laughed and cried, told stories and comforted ourselves.

I found the recipe for peach pie today and briefly considered sending it to the leadership in Washington, D.C., but then I decided to just share it with you: Pastry: 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 cup cold butter, 2 tablespoon sour cream. You can pulse this in a food processor, form into a flat disc, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, pat dough into a pie tin and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and cool while you make the filling: 3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/3 cup sour cream, 3 peaches peeled and sliced. Arrange peaches on the crust, beat rest of ingredients and pour over peaches, cover with foil, and bake 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 or 15 minutes more until filling is set.

I know, you’ll have to wait patiently until August to enjoy this — just tucked it away until fresh peaches arrive from Colorado at Jirak’s produce stand or your local grocery store. My hope, for all in leadership, is that the closest you get to being chastised is a warm slice of “impeachment pie” on another day in the country.

Last modified April 11, 2019