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Downtown

Of skirts and horses: An afternoon in

Andrew Scot Bolsinger —

Discovering, and rediscovering, Ashland is one of the — best things about living here. It can be done in many different ways, — experiences or places.

A personal favorite of my discovery places, is the front — table - affectionately known as "my table" by me and nobody else - in — the window along Oak Street at the Standing Stone Brewing Company.

After a long week of work, it's the perfect place to unwind — (after a drink at Louie's, another pretty cool place to unwind) this Saturday — afternoon. My table is open and awaiting us so we can take in all that — is Ashland.

An Ashland mix

Very close by - a two-top encroaches upon the perfection — of my table, but you can't have everything you want - a guy is talking — too loud on the cellphone as I settle in. We think for just a minute about — another table, but the lame idea is dismissed. We order and I put my reticular — formation to work drowning out the cellphone talker like white noise from — the refrigerator.

Soon, a crowd gathers at the doorway, drawing our attention. — The large party is preparing to leave the restaurant. They stand along — the street and say their goodbyes. Hugs and handshakes all around.

What steals our attention is that we recognize many of — them. Actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Our inside joke is that I never see the actors around — town, so today we gawk a bit. Most of the cast of "A Raisin in the Sun" — is there, including Crystal Baker, Chris Butler and Mirron E. Willis, — along with Kevin Kenerly of "Topdog." Kenerly also played the first Romeo — I have ever seen with dreds last year. His counterpart, Juliet, from last — year is also there.

I like seeing them, not on the stage, but as part of Ashland. — Like us. Definitely Ashland.

I notice then that Kenerly is wearing a skirt. Not a woman's — skirt, but a tribal skirt, of sorts. Somehow, he looks totally cool, which — befuddles me. I would look completely ridiculous, I know that. But a good — looking guy with dreadlocks and a skirt seems to fit perfectly in Ashland.

What doesn't fit so perfectly is the guy on the cellphone. — Maybe I am unfairly critical because he's invading my space, but once — the OSF gang is gone and my attention wanders, it wanders back to him. —

Wrap-around sunglasses are perched on his mullet. He's — wearing tight jeans with a big belt buckle. Boots, of course. He pays — the bill, leaves and climbs into a GMC truck with duel-wheels on it. He — revs the gas hard, as his dog hangs its head out the passenger window. — He drives away and I notice the Minnesota license plates.

He must have fallen down the rabbit hole and landed near — my table.

Definitely not Ashland.

I wonder what he thought of his brief visit. I wonder — if he noticed, and liked, Kenerly's skirt. I wonder what he will tell — his friends about Ashland.

All things

A stream of passersby take up our attention. An older — couple wanders in, obviously tourists. A young hippie couple carrying — backpacks go by my window. Tourists of a very different kind but no less — part of Ashland than the others.

And so it goes for a few minutes, back and forth like — a tennis match, people wander by, first tourists, then hippies, a few — locals mixed in. Each is very distinct and fairly obvious to the casual — observer.

The volley-like routine is only broken by a horse, ridden — by what looks like a real-life cowboy, slowly down Oak Street toward the — Plaza. What looks like abstract art on the landscape of downtown Ashland, — reveals itself as somehow, oddly, very Ashland.

Neither the rider nor the horse are in any hurry. Both — are content to take their space in the line of cars scurrying too and — fro. Both seem completely disinterested in the busy town around them.

Somehow, they look like they belong.

Like Kenerly's skirt, nobody but me seems to even notice — them. Of course not. It's Ashland.

I tell people all the time that they have to come visit — Ashland to really understand it.

"It's an acquired taste," I warn them. "Like your first — beer."

How else to explain a place where men wear skirts and — ride horses along the same street on the same afternoon?

The next day I fuss with my pants while getting ready — for a block party we have been invited to attend. They are beach pants, — complete with a little tie on the calf that allows me to roll them up — ankle high. They are perfect walking along Maui, but may be oddly out — of place in this corner of the mountains. But I like 'em rolled up. I — weigh the decision carefully.

At last, up they go. If a guy can wear a skirt and look — cool, and another guy can ride a horse and not cause even a second glance, — I should be able to wear beach pants to a block party in the mountains.

Of course, nobody even looks at my pants.

Definitely, Ashland.