It's a small town: one of those communities where, if you didn't pay attention, if you were a passenger in a car and were distracted by a text message on your handheld device, you would miss it.
The main street is the highway that carves right through it, where you go from 80, to 60, to 50, before climbing to 60 and, as you ascend, northward, up the hill and out of the town, you return to 80, as though nothing had happened, had experienced a mere blip along your journey.
In the town, the brick-and-wood buildings are timeless, largely unchanged since before the region had electricity. Behind the main-street edifices, on the few streets that lead off the primary artery, newer buildings stand with the newish grocery store, the train museum, and the camp ground. Single residences dot the outer core like fragmented entities.
People walk along the store fronts at a slow pace, with no rush, as though time has no meaning. The residents will stop and join in your conversation, provide information, whether solicited or not. Like everyone was part of everyone else's life. "They took the crosswalk away from this side of the intersection a few years ago... You should go over there... Make sure you press the button or you'll be waiting all day..."
There's the town's major attraction, a domesticated rodent that can supposedly predict the coming of spring or its delay. There are gift shops, thrift stores, used book shops, small restaurants. A few businesses to sustain the residents: a mechanic, pharmacy, laundromats, barber and butcher shops. But walking the main street, one wonders how this town can fully sustain itself.
It looks like a poor town, with seemingly few young residents.
There's a feeling that this is a town of faith. The Salvation Army Thrift Store, with its bible verses painted around the walls. There's the Christian book and gift shop, which also offers holy jewelry, and a mural for the farmer's market that seems eerily pious.
Peering at these shops and paintings, it's hard to not feel that eyes are looking at you judging your reaction. Are you of like mind? If so, go in peace; if not, shame on you!
It's a small town. Yet, after a couple of hours, you feel that there's more to it than meets the eye, and you feel compelled to return, to peel away the layers. To see what lies underneath.
And to find Willy.