Till The Town


For the longest time (read: the handful of years since spouting their first words), my kids thought the word till was just short for until.

Will you read this book to me for the 800th time?

Can you wait ‘til your dad gets home?

How long ’til we can have chocolate?

Can you try to wait ‘til the sun comes up?

Asparagus tastes funny.

Oh, wait ‘til you go pee.

But these days? They’re getting introduced to the real definition. The Merriam-Webster version which may or may not include the phrase dirt-don’t-hurt. 


Tilling is precisely what we have been doing to our little hometown during this summer heat wave. We’ve been plowing and mining it for a few diamonds in the rough. Translated: Getting our kicks on a budget. The result? This little photo essay detailing our scavenger hunt of late.

The goal this week was for us to find five cool things about our town that Murfreesboro, Tennessee dwellers may scarcely notice when out and about.  It happens. We all tend to neglect that which we see everyday. Live in Colorado long enough, you may fail to notice that the mountains really do come up purple with the sun. Live near the beach, you forget that your nighttime ears are privy to the sound of waves while others greet their pillow to the tune of sirens. Or bongo drums. Or coyotes. Or crickets or 13-year cicadas.

Everyone’s written about it. Everyone from Toni Morrison to Francis Bacon. We can all own up to that lackadaisical way that we meet life when it gets predictable. Better known as taking stuff for granted. It is a little monstrosity of a vice deposited in our DNA. The inability to appreciate that which is right in front of us. Without further adieu, I present:

5 Good Reasons To Till Your Town

 (…because you might be missing something like this.)

  1. Billy Bassmouth at The Donut Country. If you live here, you surely know this donut stop on Memorial Boulevard. In fact, I’ve known their mom n’ pop faces since I was a kid and my feet dangled a foot above the ground on those well-loved bar stools that do, in fact, spin a full 360 degrees without stopping. Last week, we stopped in for the signature chocolate-dipped donuts. They were all out. None left. Not surprising after 10 a.m. The early bird gets the donut. When the woman behind the counter saw my kid’s sugar-deprived heart break, she actually went in the back of the kitchen and hand-dipped the remaining three plain glazed ones. I think that she dipped them three times. Ever since my kids were babies, they have been obsessed these donuts AND another inconspicuous gem in the down-home establishment. He resides on the wall just out of kiddo-reach and range of vision. But he is there- just to the right of the counter. You can burn a few donut calories by hoisting the little ones up to jab their chubby little index finger (who am I kidding… I did it for my 8-year-old last week) at Billy Bassmouth’s red ‘ON’ button. He animatedly sings “Take Me To The River” AND nearly flops off of the plaque in his groovy glory. Call us easily entertained if you must. This one gets a collective smile from my whole crew every. single. time. 

  2. Penny The Tracks. No, it will not derail the train. Already verified on Snopes. I would not steer you awry. Yes, your grandmother will disapprove of this endeavor based on the inherent risk leaning over a train track involves so don’t invite her this time. Is it dangerous? Possibly. But probably not. Keep in mind that there is risk involved everytime you pull out of your driveway in a 4,000 lb. piece of molded steel with your hands at ten and two o’clock on the wheel. Near the Cannonsburgh Village (but closer to where the old Court South gym facility of the 1980’s used to sit), there is a place where you can actually hang out in your car or on the curb to wait for the train. I still have my paper-thin penny talisman from when I was a little girl. I’m pretty sure that it’s kept me out of trouble from time to time. All you gotta do is believe, right?
  3. Wilbur. The name given to the Willow Tree across from Middle Tennessee State University’s campus by my kids, your local arborists. If you grew up near any weeping willow trees, surely you have wondered if the hanging limbs would suffice for a tarzan swing or two. You may have even tested out the hypothesis as a kid. I never did. So 30 years later, when my own kids vocalized their wonderings, I told them that I was doubtful that the long shoots could support them. I was wrong. The whole time the kids made swings of the the braided green shoots, I was having flashbacks to Shel Silverstein’s most magical of all children’s books, The Giving Tree. I’m not sure campus authorities would appreciate a whole classroom full of swinging kids on this exceptionally beautiful tree but I will swear on my life that tree enjoyed having the attention of my kids for an hour or so. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you should have another read of The Giving Tree as soon as possible. It’s good for the soul if you are feeling particularly Hobbit-like in this heat. 

    Above: Wilbur, Keeping someone’s bike seat cool. Below: Wilbur, Keeping some ginger child happy.

  4. Jam On It. I beeline to the same little booth every weekend at the Saturday Farmer’s Market on the town square. I’m not sure any kitchen is fully complete without a jar or two of Marcy Jams. Let the kids pick their favorite jar for spreading on crackers. My favorite? Firecracker Pepper. I know. Who would’ve thought spicy for jam? Well, who would’ve thought weeping willow for swing too? Trust me. I won’t beg you to go and snatch up a jar of it but I will tell you that your winter, spring, summer and fall taste buds are missing out if you don’t. If you’re on the organic bandwagon, you’ll be pleased to know that many of the ingredients in these jams are grown right in Marcy’s backyard. P.S. You will also want to check out Marcy’s recipes that make fab use of her jams right here. –> http://www.marcyjams.com/recipes.html
  5. Saturn V. It’s worth a high-five. Just over on Baird Lane in front of Hobgood Elementary School sits a 29- foot model of NASA’s Saturn V rocket. No, it’s not Disney material nor has it been reported to transport Buzz Lightyear to infinity and beyond. However, it is still a very cool afternoon stopover for your blooming astronaut(s). Several business in the Murfreesboro community donated materials and labor for the Saturn V model. You Tube a montage of the Saturn V moon launch together before you go then bike over to check out the model at Hobgood during the summer when the kids are out of school. You can always commence your school-to-school playground crawl (a far cry from the pub crawls of old) from here afterward. This is how I plan to raise the Rick or Rachel Steve of the next generation. Make them noticers of the mundane who react to the world around them. And surely when that happens, they will spot me an airline ticket to the Amalfi Coast, right?

‘Til the next time we TILL some little or big town.  

Au revoir, y’all. 




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