I was one of those kids who swore she would never return to her hometown, never miss it, never want to go back. Then I ended up living there for seven years after college, and now that I’m 800 miles away, I do find that I miss it.
Some of our summer fun this year has made me a bit nostalgic for the unique things that make my hometown special. Most of my readers, I think, fit in one of two categories: you either live in or grew up in Dixon, or you’ll probably never find yourself in rural northern Illinois. If you’re part of the first group, feel free to add your own memories! If you’re part of the second group and you do find yourself west of Chicago (yes, there is life on the other side of Chicago!), stop by Dixon, IL for me, okay?
Here are five things I miss about my hometown, in no particular order:
1. The Petunia Festival. Yes, petunias. As in the flower. The Petunia Festival is an almost week-long event around the Fourth of July that involves all kinds of community fun: art shows, 5K run, concerts, patriotic events, carnival, parade, fireworks, food. When I was growing up, I always thought it was funny that people who no longer lived in Dixon came back just for this event. Now, I want to be one of those people. So far, it hasn’t worked out with our schedule. But maybe someday.
2. Lowell Park. You guys. We have a park in Dixon that is more like a forest. It’s a huge park with walking trails and a gazillion trees and it borders the river. I think my love of nature was birthed here. I love the mountainous hiking we get to do around here, but so far nothing has quite captured my heart like Lowell Park.
3. The Rock River. And speaking of the natural world, Dixon is divided into the north and south sides by the Rock River. I’m not particularly fond of being in water, but I always love to be near water. On the banks of the Rock River I found my peace, sitting, thinking, dreaming and being lulled by the sound of the water flowing over the dam.
4. Arthur’s Garden Deli. The best restaurant anywhere in the world. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but this, too, is a must-have when anyone who has been away from Dixon returns. Some people plan their visits around a trip to Arthur’s. Deli sandwiches, homemade soups, loaded baked potatoes. No description does the food justice, but my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
5. Books on First. Now that I fully embrace that I’m a coffee-drinking, book-a-holic, writer, I love the idea of local bookstore/coffee shop. We have some of each where we live now, but nothing like Books on First, which is the quintessential local bookstore. I think if I lived in Dixon again, this would be one of my favorite places to spend time.
Dixonites, what would you add to the list? And those of you who don’t live in your hometown, what do you miss about it?