It was a Sunday that smelled like spring. It is difficult to describe the smells that come with each season, but when the smell of spring comes, fresh, new, and wonderfully earth-y, it puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
It was also a Sunday when, little did I know, I would get to become the driver of a small town tour bus (err, van).
Workfest was on. Which meant that camp was filled to the brim with all sorts of new people. A few of these people, cooks and crew leaders, would be joining us for church. And my housemate Anna and I would be driving two of them there: Mary and David, first-timers to CAP all the way from sunny California.
When we entered the doors of St. Paul’s, a little Catholic church started by Father Beiting (CAP’s founder) himself, we were greeted with the perfect sight for a spring Sunday: a couple of girls were decorating the altar with bright yellow daffodils.
At St. Paul’s, there is a sitting area in front of the chapel area of the church. We milled about in the sitting area for a bit as we waited for church to start, talking to other Workfest volunteers who had just arrived and to some of the local parishioners.
Then one person pulled out her phone to take a picture of the daffodils decorating the altar. Then two others did the same. I smothered my smile behind their backs. I felt like I was with a group of tourists (I’m from the lakeshore of Lake Michigan, which means I see a lot of tourists – and make fun of a lot of tourists – so it was funny to feel like I belonged to a group of them).
Church over, Mary and David offered to take us to lunch. But along the way, we needed to stop at the tourist guide Jackson County sign because it was very colorful and very Jackson County. So I pulled the van in front of the sign and the phones came out again.
Lunch at the very busy Dairy Queen over, we headed back downtown. Anna pointed out the famous graffitied “Jesus Loves You” wall.
“Oh!” Mary said. “We should get a picture of that, too!”
So I pulled the van into a parking lot across the street and we walked over to the wall, the sun resting over our heads, the gravel crunching under our feet.
“Hey, would y’all like me to take your picture?”
We turned around. Baseball-capped and jean-clad, the man who had been working on a trailer in the lot next to the sign was walking over.
We stood in front of the sign, a group of four standing under a spray-painted heart, as he took the picture.
“You’d be surprised how many people stop to take a picture here. I know the guy who painted this. He did it secretly because he thought that he would get in trouble, but so many people liked it, that he went ahead and let out the secret.”
We thanked the man and headed back to the van, smiling at the fact that we had happened to meet a person who could tell us a story about the wall right when we were about to take a picture in front of it.
That, after all, is exactly the sort of thing that happens on small town tours.
Which is what makes them so durn special.