Sentiment

We traveled to Millheim, over the mountain in Penns Valley, yesterday evening for dinner; if you’re ever there we can recommend the Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks. The subject of this post however is not Pennsylvania fine dining, it is the mural painted on the east wall of the cafe. We had been here to dine once before and I remembered the mural for its bright colors. I recalled neither its clever design nor its sentiment. Before entering the restaurant I crossed the street, zoomed my camera all-the-way-out and cursed those who had constructed the buildings on either side for placing them so close together. I could not get as far from the mural as I would have liked. Anyway I took a few photos, crossed back over the street, and then proceeded to dinner. It wasn’t until the drive back home, as Joanna and I talked about the mural, that it struck us that it had been designed as a quilt. It wasn’t until I had inserted an image of the mural into this post that the accompanying sentiment finally made its way into my consciousness. Pride in the past, Love of Place, and Hope for the Future. I had already known two of its three parts. Pride in the Past is invariably presented in just that way. The usual form of Hope for the Future is Faith in the Future. [Aren’t words, and the ways in which we use them, interesting? For those of you who are fans of Lord Peter Wimsey, you may recall a scene from Murder must Advertise in which Lord Peter points out, while working at Pym’s Publicity, the difference (and implication for legal liability) between the phrases ‘made from pears,’ and ‘made with pears.’ The difference being that the former promises perry made mostly, if not entirely, from pears, while the latter promises something more modest in its use of the fruit in question.] I hope the followers of this Pairodox blog will not take offense when I point out that the words Faith in read as a statement of religious faith. It is therefore interesting that the two-thirds-version of the sentiment (first and third phrases) is commonly associated with small town chambers of commerce, historical societies, and churches. I appreciate the change which results in Hope for the future rather than having Faith in it – to me the former suggests more active participation in making the future what it can and will be, while the latter suggests that we sit passively and watch some prescribed plan unfold and reveal itself. Furthermore I enjoy the second, and novel, part of the complete statement because it admits an appreciation for and commitment to what we have … Love of Place. These three phrases express gratitude for the past, appreciation for the present, and hope for what is yet to come. What better views (of past, present, and future) can any community ask for? Well done Millheim, Pennsylvania! [After completing this post I discovered that  local artist Elody Gyekis was the creator and motivating force behind this Valley Roots Community Mural.]

6 thoughts on “Sentiment

  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog – I have actually been enjoying it quietly for quite some time, like someone listening to public radio without ever making a donation. So, the guilt has amassed and I am now posting my first “comment donation”. In addition to the subject matter of the photo, I also appreciate the windows above the mural. There is a gradient of electrical usage! The first window is open, the middle window has a fan, and the third has upgraded to an air conditioner. I always seem to drive through Millheim in the summer on the way to parades, but I think it’s time to stop and explore.

    1. Hey Renee … it’s YOU isn’t it? What a surprise! I’m so delighted that you decided to rise to the surface! What a delight! I loved your observation of the electrical gradient – it hadn’t dawned on me until now! I hope you are well. Your presence brightened my day! Thanks. D

  2. From the Artist herself …

    “I totally approve. This kind of response is exactly what I had hoped for from viewers of this piece. It’s especially cool to see an intelligent, introspective, written response to the mural. I have many people describe their reactions in much simpler but very similar ways in terms of the progression of reaction (1. Oooh, pretty colors, 2. Wow, it’s a quilt and clothesline, 3. Other observations about its meaning and significance) and that is exactly what I had hoped for. First, it is beautiful; second, the design is interesting and complex enough that you notice new things every time you see it; and third, people will begin to put together and appreciate how it represents the community here in Millheim. I don’t know how much you know about the project, but there was a lead up to the design that involed about a dozen community meetings with long and interesting conversations (guided and facilitated by me) about how we wanted to represent this community, what we loved about it, and what we hoped for it. These slowly evolved into the design that I created. The words too were carefully thought out and discussed. And then I made the whole mural into a paint-by-number project that about 150 people in the area helped to paint (not a lot compared to other projects I have organized, but a good number when you realize that there are fewer than a thousand people living in Millheim), so the people of Penns Valley actually helped to create it as well. Glad you enjoyed it! If you ever go to State College, check out my community murals there! And I have one closer to you in Williamsport as well. Elody”

  3. So gorgeous! I’m so happy you photographed the mural and shared. How many times I’ve driven past something which we appreciate, but don’t think about sharing. However, the other day Char & I paused at a particularly charming covered bridge so that she could photograph it. Will share those neat pics in the future.

    The banner is a beautiful and patriotic statement. Very inspiring and I would be right proud to be from Millheim because of the peace & appreciation for place that the mural conveys.

    1. Thanks again Tammy. Yes … the community group that got together to produce the mural should be congratulated. Millheim is a very special place indeed. [It’s not too far from State College.] It is an oasis in an otherwise very conservative part of the world. The town is a real study in contrasts .. and so was the cafe at which we ate. Let it suffice to say that its customers are ‘progressive’ sorts. Anyway, there we were enjoying the atmosphere and all the time Amish buggies, full of brightly dressed Amish families, paused at the traffic light directly in front of the cafe. It was weird. It is clear, however, that all of the residents of this special place are aware of and very much appreciate what they’ve got. I’m very much looking forward to Char’s images of the covered bridge. D

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