There’s this moment when you’re learning to play music, a guitar for example, when you find yourself on the other side of learning. It’s no longer right hand does this and left hand does that and you pay attention to this and that, but it becomes this sort of fluid, organic, thing. All the pieces flow together, the whole becomes greater than the parts: Music comes out.

Learning to fly an airplane, come to think of it, is the same thing: That moment where it’s no longer the steering hand and the throttle hand and the pedal feet but you just are in the thing flying it. All the pieces are part of a whole.

Come to think of it, about any environment where man and machine have to work together has that tip-over moment of getting into the flow of it. The machine, for that matter, can be your own body, learning to sing or dance for example. (I’ll have to assume that’s what it’s like for dancing, which is, let’s say, not a strong point.)

It, at a little over a year into this editor job, is what covering Van Buren County is turning into. It’s moved from this office and that office, these people and those people, this event and that event into what’s becoming understood as this sort of flowing state.

This occurred last week when I went out with (County) Judge (Roger) Hooper to look at some chip-and-seal operations they were doing out on Old Highway 9. (With any luck the pictures and a short write up are on 1B. If not, editor-boy hasn’t quite gotten the “getting a newspaper ready for press” thing into a flow state yet.) We went out on a Wednesday, the day after getting the paper to press, and the day when getting the next paper ready for press gets underway. (The newspaper is a frying pan, each week is a new fire.) Already conversations had started, a lot of “What you got going on?” questions to various people (police, fire, community service) who often as not having something going on, and then swing by the Judge’s office to ride with him out to the job site.

We talked to some of the guys on the crew, looked around, took some pictures, asked questions, about what you’d think. Then we were back in the truck, checking out some other areas attendant to the whole process of improving county roads and it was, somewhere in there, going down some back two-lane where, I don’t know, something bigger became, not so much apparent as understood.

(I didn’t bother sharing this with the Judge at the time. “I’m having an epiphany!” “What, should I pull over?”)

There, in a pickup on a back road, this awareness of Van Buren County as not some place where people do things, but this place that exists in a flow, of growing and interacting, of these groups and those groups and this thing and that all moving toward this sort of central, oh I don’t know, growing interaction? That maybe? The punchline being I’m beginning to see, and think of, the county as this living organism.

I’m keeping the column short this week, we’ve got a lot of news to run, plus back-to-school information. A lot of parts are moving at the same time. Music occurs.