It’s no secret that Silt Ridge has a rich and storied history. The “silt” could easily be converted to “silk” because the town has a heritage of harnessing the power of silk worms to create a world-renowned industry. Morris drives by one of the buildings that housed the billions of worms; it stands like a hulking sentinel in the coalescing grey clouds. Morris wonders what it must have been like back then in that cultured era. There must have been buyers coming in from all over the world to purchase the silk garments that were fashioned in nearby factories. Morris is certain that his landlady’s family – the formidable LoZelle Empire – made its mark in top-end shirts sewn from the highest quality homegrown materials. Morris realizes that those glory days are a far cry from today, when the mayor and board of supervisors spend much of the day trying to attract fast-food joints to locate in downtown. Morris wonders if there’s maybe another way . . .

Silk Worms on Parade

Growing the Bottom Line One Thread at a Time

I leave the mayor and his get-rich-quick-scheme in my rearview mirror.

Like so many politicians, when Perry Quinnion sought office he primped and preened, strutting around with his thumbs in his suspenders, puffing out his flaccid chest, squawking about how he was going to turn the economic fortunes of the town around. He was going to bring industry back to the valley, attracting high-tech jobs with clean energy. You know – the same ol’ same ol’ you’ve heard a thousand times before.

So far, he’s been a bust, unable to lure any of the fast-food standbys. The same goes for hotels, including on-again/off-again talks with a brand name on the 907 business loop. But that appears to have fallen flatter than a pancake. Don’t worry, he hasn’t been able to land a pancake or waffle joint either.

His legacy is still intact though; his promise to entice a drone factory is still viable. Those talks are apparently ongoing and will remain that way right through the next election. But if I were a betting man, I’d say that one would be dead in the water too, sooner than later.

Remnant from the Past: One Hulking Pavilion

On the outskirts of town, I roll past the hulking pavilion from a bygone era, the steel-and-glass conservancy consisting of over a million square feet of multi-tiered climate-controlled extravagance. Rising eight stories, the steel peak of the massive ornate structure pierces the low-hanging clouds. With such an imposing size and girth, the sprawling architectural wonder provides a lot of potential.  But that’s all it amounts to: potential. This city has seemingly an endless supply of potential but obviously no means to harness it.

At one point in Silt Ridge’s illustrious history, that potential was me – and then some. During the height of the region’s silk production, the conservancy served as home to hundreds if not thousands of mulberry trees whose meaty leaves provided food for the swarming teems of silk worms. I wondered what it all must have looked like in this thriving city at the turn of the last century. Not more than a few blocks from the heart of the financial district was a sprawling greenhouse filled with millions upon millions of industrious worms eating their way to haute-couture stardom.

Little Workers that Never Complained

The little workers fueled the silk industry on the eastern shore of the U.S. and started a tradition of quality garments made right in the center of town. The raw material was transferred to nearby factories where it was exotically colored and swirled into alluring patterns, providing some of the most sought-after garments in the world.

Rags-to-Riches: Never Doubt the Power of Silk

A thought suddenly strikes me: what about a documentary about the silk trade in Silt Ridge? Better yet, what about a movie, a literal rags-to-riches number? Or how about a horror flick: a mad scientist genetically alters the little critters so they make their silk cocoons out of some otherworldly material that looks good leaving the loading dock but ultimately invades the pores of anyone who wears it and makes them act like zombies. We could undertake a whole franchise based on that premise.

I pick up my flip phone but resist the urge to dial Noreen’s number. I’m having too much fun driving around in my convertible, watching snow swirling all around me.