Enchantment Aug 27, 2020 Number 22 – Neighbor

Here’s a little known fact which will stun you onto another plane. The most ecologically diverse places of the world were celebrated in a 2014 issue of The National Geographic. And there was just ONE such place in North America.


The Duck River runs through our hometown and what goes on under the water there is enchantment enough (60 species of rare fresh water mussels, for starters), but as Mr. Paul Harvey was prone to say: “there’s more to the story.”

NG Photographer David Littschwager dropped a see-through cubic-foot cube into its flow and found more than100 species contained therein. Such abundance is comparable to the wilds of Costa Rica, for crying out loud.

I share this to explain that life in Columbia, Tennessee entails a to and fro of the John Harlan Willis Bridge which spans the banks of The Duck River. For all its grandeur and the fact that it is a primary source of drinking water for much of Middle Tennessee, people crossing it and living on it are oblivious to its significance in countless ways.

The diversity of what is nurtured there by the natural flow (which is uniquely pristine) makes for the miracle of unfathomable life support that comes in handy for the human species.

One day while driving fro, I eased up on the accelerator to catch a freshly produced billboard, one that anchors the overpass. The billboard was blue, it was true and the sentiment was yet another mind blowing factoid of which we’ve lost track in this the climate of tyrant.

Though we pay homage to Mister Rogers, we often need a prompt to be more like he and other well known avatars. For most all of us chickens, the jump start for tried and true gentleness that really rules the world is literally a Godsend.

Even on the shores of The Duck River it’s apparent that we might be tilting toward extremes too righteous to be of the heart or even useful. Enchantment-less.

On the other hand, as the blue billboard highlights there are lovely people, two in particular, going about the business of actively pursuing the lightness of being. Are they making their affiliations known? Nada.

They are, as engaged in public affairs as one could only hope that young Americans would be. They stand for freshness of spirit and a future that unwinds like The Golden Rule.

In the beginning their tale reveals a thoughtful someone, Bryson Leach, who loved photography and the creation of wooden things made by hand and his wife Susan, shopkeeper par excellence and self-taught quilter who joyfully offered a daily dose of textile beauty for others.

In time the duo’s game plan was to promote eco friendly lifestyles. By and by, they have co-authored two remarkable storefronts in Columbia with a marketing business AND a baby on the side (not in that order, of course).

Engaged daily with all the tiny tasks of retail entrepreneurship, they are students of curation, beauty, display, promotion, partnership, and business management.

As they were opening the second of their shops, Little Neighbors, a quarantine reared doubts, but they hustled by way of online orders and countless trips to the post office. Subsequently when examples of a racial reckoning followed, they were quick to open a bookish corner in their mothership location of Needle and Grain needleandgrain.com. Their selection of titles inspires readers to educate themselves on the blessed path from racism to a higher functioning society.

I’ve never asked, but I have no doubt that as a pair, they are practiced at deep listening to their innards, each other and the community. All to say with such attentiveness, they have a family mission/vision which unfurls each day like The Duck River in the ministry of cherished customers, beloved non-profits and the community at large.

And with that, amid tempo-reduced days, the duo took notice of a tired breast-augmentation billboard at the Duck River location. Time for a new story. Bryson said that Mister Rogers’s words came to mind. “It was thoughtful, kind and something we could really use in our world right now,” he said.

Again to employ our host Mr. Paul Harvey – “now you know the rest of the story.” During lean times, Susan and Bryson saw to it that the community would consider a future together by way of a post that now floats atop the diverse and mighty Duck River.

The Leaches set up a Go Fund Me page and got it done. People pitched in with small and large amounts. The billboard company even did a complimentary trim of the surrounding bushes to make sure we all heard.

Leadership is rather enchanting, don’t you think?

Photo taken by Sarah B. Gilliam sarahbgilliam.com