I've been thinking this past week about the simple pleasures that I like best about living here in the Ozarks. And while year summaries are commonplace at Christmas time, I cannot resist offering my own appreciative list of the 'best' of Berryville.
Best Coffee: Everyone will be surprised to hear that McDonalds has the best coffee in town--except the people who drink it. These smart coffee aficionados' won't be surprised that learn that McDonalds buys its coffee from Don Francisco Gavina, an immigrant to United States from Cuba, who searches worldwide for the best Arabica coffee. At less than half the cost of a cup of Starbucks, it's the best buy in town.
Best Community Partner: First National Bank of Berryville doesn't make a lot of noise about its support of small and local businesses, but it has been a generous and effective contributor to our area's small farms, small farmers, and grass roots and volunteer organizations concerned with a more prosperous and sustainable Berryville. FNBB's commitment to these people and organizations are sure signs of how deeply rooted and connected it is to our community.
Best Eggs: The aptly named Barbara Byrd is mother hen to a flock of chickens that lay the most incredible, edible eggs. We picked up a dozen brown beauties from Barb last week that was so large the carton they came in wouldn't close. Comparing one of Barb's hen's eggs to a store bought egg is to see a rhinestone next to the Hope diamond.
Best View: Although we enjoy going up Saunder's Mountain to see the sights, the best view of Berryville is at twilight from the junction of Highway 62 & Rocky Top Road. It is worth your time to pull off onto the overlook on the south side of the highway to admire the darkening blanket of sapphires that is our town at dusk.
Best Non-Profit: The Carroll County Literacy Council helps citizens and immigrants learn to read and, because they can read, become employed, become citizens, and enroll in training or higher education. Readers are also able to help their children read, are better able to understand their obligations as citizens, and are prepared to actively engage civic life. Cheers to Dr. Sharon Sloan, Berryville's CCLC representative, and to all Carroll County Literacy Council board members and volunteers.
Best Musical Group: We salute Robert and Kara Phillippe for preparing their children to become part of our rich Ozark music heritage. As the Phillippe Family Quartet, these remarkable young musicians play everything from Appalachian American fiddle to Bartok, and beyond. Be on the lookout for the next Phillippe Family Quartet concert and make every effort to attend.
Best Community Garden: The First Christian Church Berryville started a community Garden two years ago and is among the more than 2,000 church sponsored community gardens in the United States. FCC's garden was founded for the purpose of providing Loaves and Fishes with fresh produce, beautifying and restoring underutilized land, and to provide self-sufficiency and stewardship opportunities for youth and adults through gardening. Stop by and see this small but important step toward "Building a Community of Hope." The garden is behind the church at 306 Church Street.
Best Public Servants: Berryville is genuinely blessed to have many fine public servants. Two who head the list are Kirby Murray of Berryville's Public Works Department, and Ginger Oaks who directs the Chamber of Commerce. We are grateful to Kirby for his Department's unfailing responsiveness to emergencies and traffic safety, and for its support for civic and organizational events such as parades and Public Square happenings. Ginger Oaks is a tireless champion of the City of Berryville and warms every venue with her cheerfulness and good nature. We are especially impressed with her annual efforts in promoting the Spring Flower and Garden show. We thank you both for your service.
Best Lunch: The best lunch in town (and dinner) is at the Grandview Hotel on the Public Square. My favorite is the Rueben sandwich and fries (of course), followed by a slice of Sandra's Dang Good Pie. The coffee is pretty good and the chance to sit a spell in the Grandview's casually elegant dining room is a pleasure all by itself. My wife Susan almost always orders the catfish, and recommends it.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are many 'bests' in Berryville, and countless tender mercies that make me grateful to be here.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.