The Pilot: By Steve Bouser, Editor

How do I love thee, Southern Pines? Let me count the ways. I love the the way strangers greet you with a smile when you meet them on the street.

I love the funky, eclectic look of the homes in Southern Pines. No matter what neighborhood you’re in, you seldom see a group of homes (or even two in a row) that give the impression of having built in cookie-cutter design. Each one is an individual – some downright odd – and proud of it. Architectural eccentricity coexists peacefully with conservatism, humility snuggles comfortably up to affluence.

I love the tolerant, wordly, laid-back, live-and-let-live atmosphere that prevails in Southern Pines. No one puts on airs or looks down at his neighbors. Everyone seems more than happy to share the good life here without asking too many questions about who you are or where you came from.Southern Pines Home for Sale

I love the fact that my house (on Weymouth Road), my church (Emmanuel Episcopal) and my office are all within walking distance of each other. (My wife’s job and our daughter’s school also used to be within that circle, but now we’re flung farther toward the four winds.)

I love working in a newspaper office that is still located downtown – unlike so many elsewhere that have moved out on the bypass someplace in a metal building that could just as easily be a dry cleaner or a warehouse.

I’ve written about this before, but I love having a town government that is so squeaky-clean, efficient and amicably run that it is downright boring.

I’ve written about this too, but I love the wonderful job the town has been doing lately at building new sidewalks to improve our quality of life. I like the way they go winding to and fro, sparing trees and causing minimal intrusion into the character of neighborhoods. I especially love the splendidly executed new block of concrete-and-brick sidewalk across from the Pilot.

I love having the Campell House Park for a front yard. (Except when the practice golfers are hitting in our direction.)

I love picking up my morning muffin in at the Broad Street Bakery; being able to walk across the street at lunchtime and have a Speedy Gonzalez with beans at the El Vaquero Mexican eatery; or occasionally walking up to the Ice Cream Parlor in the middle of a stressful afternoon and indulging myself in the sinful pleasure of a chocolate malted.

On the way back, I love being able to drop into the Country Bookshop to chat with Joan Scott and see what’s new on the biography shelves.

I love the Weymouth Center, with its quaint elegance and colorful history. I love sipping a glass of white wine while watching quirky, out-of-the-mainstream SunFlix movies at the Sunrise Theatre.

I love sitting on a tasteful wooden bench under a maple tree on Pennsylvania Avenue and writing on a yellow legal pad, which I’m doing at the moment.

I love the personal attention you get from the friendly and knowledgeable ladies at the Southern Pines Public Library.Hydrangeas in Southern Pines

I love walking past planters overflowing with geraniums and window boxes full of pansies or phlox. I love going into Gulley’s Garden Center an checking all the new bedding plants. I love the smell of pine needles warming in the sun.

I love the relaxed, resort ambiance that still colors this place long after it made the transition to real town populated mostly by real, year-around residents.

I love going to events at Downtown Park and having to duck under low-hanging magnolia limbs.

I love the little Charlestonesque alleys and walkways that open up invitingly from sidewalks on main drags.

I love the way people don’t seem to worry all that much about how their yards look.

I love having a town hall and a police department that look more like rambling buildings on the campus of a liberal-arts college.

I even love having a railroad running through the middle of town. Far from being annoyed at the sound of a train rumbling through and blowing its mournful horn in the middle of the night, I somehow find comfort in it.

Anyway, that’s about 20 ways I love thee, Southern Pines, and I’m still counting.

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