Friend and former colleague Laura Lane visited Hayward this week.
Her first phone call to me was, "This city is tiny."
Yes, small but world class.
Readers must understand Laura Lane -- I always refer to her by her full name -- is the rare mixture of toughness, incisiveness, empathy and writing talent that makes a world-class reporter for the Bloomington Herald-Times.
She found out the food scene was spectacular because of the number of tourists and part-time residents who dump money into our county. In fact, we just wrote a story about how the county took in more than $1 million in sales tax over the summer months. That at a half cent tax on the dollar.
Laura toured the shops along Main Street and side streets, gathering presents for friends. I took her into the Hayward Mercantile, which is a high-end cooking that beats Goods for Cooks in Bloomington every day of the week. There she found a device that grabs jars out of hot water for pickling -- she had suffered burns weeks earlier using a wooden spoon with no common sense. Sadly, we weren't able to enjoy the vinegar and oil tasting bar because Max wasn't there.
We drove past my house and she extolled its virtues. To be clear, she did not extoll mine and reminded me of my failings. I expect nothing less from a hardcore journalist and concerned friend.
Laura worked at sustaining me during my struggles, bringing pot roast and other goodies to the cabin out in the woods. She also brought sweets and a book during my Christmas at the cheap hotel.
We went out to The Landing, where she learned from the manager not just the history of musky fishing but the story of the flooding and creation of the flowage -- which drowned out Native American homes, wild rice beds and hundreds of sacred graves.
She left after only a couple days of visiting with a promise to return and happy that I had settled well.
So an investigative journalist with nearly 40 years experience confirmed my own estimation.
Happiness and wellness unto all of you my brothers and sisters.