For a small town, Floyd can offer an interesting gauntlet during any visit to the county seat. When I head into the studio on any given morning, my first stop depends on mood. It might be for a cup of strong black coffee at Roger Hollandsworth’s Village Mart on north end of town where I can add to my cholesterol count with a good ham or sausage breakfast sandwich. Or it might be Sally Walker’s Cafe del Sol for some more exotic java and a stromlette (a cross between breakfast burrito and an omelette). Sally’s place is closed this week so I’m in stromlette withdrawal.

Such stops are seldom quick ones. The Village Mart is a favorite of local contractors while Cafe del Sol offers a more eclectic crowd. Or I might end up discussing politics with Connie Wood, local woodworker and president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, from his usual post at West End Market south of town. Lunch at Rob Neukirch’s Oddfellas Cantina often turns into a three-hour affair as a rotating cast of characters stop by the table for coffee and conversation.

This comes to mind after reading David St. Lawrence’s throughts about Floyd gathering places in his popular Ripples blog. David focuses on three of Floyd’s popular gathering spots: Cafe del Sol, Oddfellas Cantina and Blue Ridge Restaurant.

But the Floyd routine can turn just about anywhere into a gathering spot. I can stop at the Bank of Floyd and spend more than a hour there talking with both customers and Bank officials. A quick stop at Farmers’ Supply can turn into a cup of coffee with Janice Yearout-Patton and a discussion on various topics. A recent trip to the Courthouse to pick up a replacement county sticker for my car turned into a full morning of catching up with Sheriff’s baliff (and neighbor) Jimmy Howery.

The Floyd routine includes taking time to stop and talk to friends, both old and new. I live five miles from town but the trip in can take all morning as each stop becomes a chance to visit, learn some local news and catch up with someone you haven’t seen for a few days, weeks or even years.

Sure it takes time. But it is time well spent.