Dear gracious and gentle reader, if you have settled in to make your way through this week’s edition of these River Valley Ramblings from this fairly new River Valley resident, perhaps having poured a fresh cup of coffee to enhance the journey, or one of those soy latte double mega whipped contraption or, and this one’s my favorite, a Route 44 vanilla root beer, then please accept this heartfelt “thank you.”

And, along with it, your marching orders. I have, you see, a job for you, a task, something bordering on an order of a small scale.

Here’s what I want you to do: If you ever run into me out in public and hear me singing some sour tune that I’m bored, or have nothing to do, I want you to immediately grab the nearest ruler, swat the back of my hand, grab me by the ear lobe and march me over to the nearest corner and put me in timeout.

Immediately. Without hesitation.

I don’t care where we are at the time, either.

I don’t care if we’re out and about on the streets or sidewalks of the VeeB (my made up word for Van Buren which cuts it from three syllables to one, thus saving so much time), or up and down the aisles of a store in Alma. I don’t care if we’re at Kirksey Park over in Mulberry, trying to scrounge up a relaxing weekend set of nine innings at Jimmy Burkhart Field in Rudy or hanging out at the Dyer Bottoms with my friend Mayor Bill Morse and his dog Squirrel (actually, there are differing opinions as to which one is the official mayor).

I don’t care where or when it is. If I’m complaining about having nothing to do, or that I’m bored, well, you know what to do.

There was a time in my life when popping off in that manner wasn’t unheard of. I mean, there were five kids in our family, and summer days and evenings in my neighborhood were easily passed at our corner lot with epic battles of whiffle ball, marathon hide and seek contests and just hanging out until the street light came on, signaling time to go inside for the night, even then an occasional “I’m bored” could be heard slipping from my lips.

If that ever happens to me here in Crawford County then, well, then shame on me.

Since moving here in September of last year I’ve been amazed at the amount of things to see, do, hear and experience. And I’m not just talking about things of the recreational variety.

This is one hoppin’ county.

Since September the number of ribbon cuttings, for example, has been phenomenal. Ribbon cuttings mean new businesses starting up or, in some cases, reopening after a remodel. The business community is growing. And while some of your favorites may have closed down or moved out, more are coming in and that, dear reader, is exciting.

That means a variety of eating establishments. It means more shopping opportunities. And, of course, it means more money being funneled back into the community.

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors then you don’t need me to tell you that you can’t swing a squirrel by the tail (not that you’d ever want to try that, although one of my brothers-in-law once grabbed an Oklahoma squirrel off a feeder at his home at Lake Keystone – the BIL’s home, not the squirrel’s – to the shock and amazement of both parties) without hitting some kind of outdoor adventure.

There’s plenty of water around here and where there’s water in this abundance there’s fish in equal abundance.

Want to go for a hike? Crawford County offers hundreds of options for those times when someone tells you to go take a hike.

A movie theater, roller skating, walking paths complete with exercise equipment along the way, indoor and outdoor concerts, a park that houses dinosaurs (no, not real), an aquatic park and festivals of the spring, summer and fall varieties.

Did I mention farmers markets? Or what has to be two of the best boys and girls clubs in the Natural State?

If you can’t find anything to do in Crawford County then you’re simply not looking.

This is going to be an absolutely wonderful summer here in this county. I simply cannot wait to enjoy all it has to offer in my inaugural summer as a River Valley resident.

The opportunity is out there for you to get to swat the back of my hand with a ruler. I’m betting that ruler will be gathering a lot of dust for lack of use.