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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Do you know your neighbors?


We lived in Los Angeles most of our adult/working lives. In our last place, we occupied the same corner house for twenty years and except for families with children in the same sports as our son, or the same activities as our daughter, we didn't know too many people. People didn't stop and say hello to anyone.

They were on a tight schedule; we all were.

We retired to Port Orford, on the Southern Oregon Coast, a small hamlet that sits quietly behind pines, day in and day out, looking out on the Pacific and bordering the forest.  In winter, the town seeks relief from the constant wind and the constant rain by shutting itself in and exposing its thoughts through artistic pursuits. A town of twelve hundred, maybe half of whom are full time inhabitants, here and there and in the surrounding hills, manages to support the arts and wild life with equal fervor.   There are fourteen art galleries in this town.

I've begun to feel like an artist here; something in me wants to live without schedules, between days and nights; garden in the moonlight, write in the sun, cook only when hungry, declare love at every thing and everyone who's listening, take up music, poetry, watercolor, and drop love stones wherever I've walked from the beach with a pocketful of agates.

There is a rumor that this town lives in its own time zone; people wake up and show up at the Post Office when they know they have mail, and the rest of the time you might not see them for months.
Once you know someone's schedule, you honor it. You manage around it and soon it becomes a normal thing to meet for coffee at the spur of the moment when both of you are not running off to a doctor, a dentist, an errand to the hardware store you hope stocks sprinklers for your new lawn that is dying out because, unlike every year since you have moved here, this year, for the first time, the weather has been dry for weeks and you need to turn the sprinklers on your new lawn.

Unlike many beach towns where Main Street is full of trinket places, this town supports small enterprises that provide needed services and support, hardware and lumber stores, a laundromat, four or more RV parks and campgrounds, a school, a park, coffee shops, restaurants, motels and B&B's, a car repair, a hair salon, real estate offices, a quilting shop, an ocean resources office, a dentist, a newspaper, a data business with offices all over the nation, a couple of manufacturing places for machine parts, and unknown numbers of small home businesses, in addition to ranching and cranberry growing.  The port served commercial fishermen as well as sports enthusiasts. A marine reserve, run by the Marine Studies Dep. of Oregon State U. sits right off Table Rock at the Visitor's Park. The reserve is set to study the future of marine life in this part of the world

This town is full of part timers; yet, when they do show up, they fit right in! Unimaginable anywhere else. And since everyone knows someone you don't know, if you need a repair person, start asking around. Did you know that your neighbor used to be a plumber?

Did we know this before we moved here? No!
We moved here to be on the water.
We moved here for its beauty and affordability.
All things that everyone knows.
But what's keeping us here are the people; smart, open minded, eager to engage, perceptive, well read, good stewards of the environment, and mostly, friendly and acceptable of each other's idiosyncrasies.

We are lucky, that way.



28 comments:

Maggie May said...

Good Neighbours are worth their weight in gold. Glad you have people who you can fall back on!
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Diana said...

What a great place to have landed, in many ways!

We know our immediate neighbors, all 2 of them, since our area is rural.

When we lived in San Diego ( I think I blogged on this once, or thought to), and were getting ready to move, we had a series of yard sales to clear out. And in the process, met most of our neighbors. What a neat bunch of people, and I was struck with sadness at not having met them sooner. But like you, we were busy too. Still are.

You make retirement sound very appealing!

Perpetua said...

it sounds like you made a very lucky choice of retirement location, Rosaria. Such community spirit is to be valued and cherished.

Beryl Ament said...

There was an article in today's Wall Street Journal about a website called Nextdoor.com. It is a kind of website not for friends but for neighbors. It looks kind of interesting as a way to learn about neighbors, ask for recommendations etc. Anybody else read it?

Brian Miller said...

there is a certain bit of the artist lifestyle that is appealing to me...ha...and changing things up...finding your own rhythm...

i know my neighbors some...when we lived in MD...and FL...and even NC...we knew them better..we are in an odd bit of a subdivision right now...

Wendy Lu said...

What a wonderful community you live in! Enjoy being present where you are.

I live in Chapel Hill, N.C., which has the perfect small-town feel coupled with the energetic city vibe and culture. It's an old town (UNC-Chapel Hill is the nation's oldest public university), but it's always great to meet some of the locals and hear their stories. At the same time, there are a ton of students and young entrepreneurs as well who add fresh perspective to the area. It's awesome!

Hope you're having a great week.

~Wendy Lu

The Red Angel Blog

Helen said...

... love this! I think John Gottberg Anderson would enjoy it too!!

#1Nana said...

It sounds lovely. One of these days we're going to try out one of those RV parks...maybe we can meet for coffee?

Linda Myers said...

Lovely post. Yes, you are lucky that way!

Rhodesia said...

We live in a small hamlet of 10 houses and yes we know all our neighbours :-) Diane

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Wonderful little place there. Love the artistic appeal. We lived in northern CA, Placer foothills over 40 years; knew all our few neighbors, the tiny town and hillsides. I commuted to Sacramento. It grew too much like the rest of CA and we did not want to live like that. We moved to this MN small town, hubby's hometown that's ala Mayberry but without Aunt Bea. We do know our neighbors, but I find that the people are clannish, having lived here forever and their families are their lives. We empty nesters are an oddity. We have lots of acquaintances and folks are cordial, but not the stop over for coffee type. Very different from our Newcastle, & CA lives where we all blended. So few of us had lifelong roots in CA that we bonded, here they stay to themselves. I think it is reflective of their culture--Norwegian, suspicious and standoffish. We travel a lot, snowbird in winter some and this area offers good, safe quality and right across the Mississippi LaCrosse has 2 universities that offer a great deal. Sometimes I wish we had not moved here, but we're settled in now after 8 years and I could not fathom moving again; if we did it would be to an area that attracts retirees from all over, with more people to engage with such as MS, AL Gulf shores area.

Helga said...

Port Oxford sounds magical. Following on Facebook, it seems almost everyone is an artist of some kind, with exhibitions here and art shows there.
I am what one would call a quiet and reserved person, but always eager to connect to someone who is willing to share their thoughts with me. (But who would know that about me thanks to my hermit behavior?) Similar age, background, interests, pastimes would be helpful. We don’t want to intrude upon others, not being sure if they are interested in a new friendship. Maybe when lonesomeness becomes too heavy, we eventually change, almost imperceptibly to ourselves, and ease up to social contact; and then, suddenly, our life is filled with wonderful neighbors (who were always there).

Eva Gallant said...

So glad you are blessed with good neighbors! Makes life more pleasant!

Hilary said...

Good neighbours are a blessing. My street is loaded with folks I consider not just neighbours but friends. We party together, share wine on the front deck, have impromptu group barbeques. There are at least a dozen people with whom I would feel secure knowing they have my house key and could feed my cats in a pinch. I'm glad for you that you have tight connections with your community as well. It's very comforting.

the walking man said...

I know my neighbors histories, which around here is more important. Hey though! i am glad to see you all finally got pavement!

Rob-bear said...

You never cease to find great things to say about Port Orford. If you're not careful, you may single-handedly double the population of the town!

At our last house, we knew the neighbours . There were renters on both sides of us, but we tried to get to know each one. I also knew lots of other folks in the neighbourhood.

IN our apartment building, it is a little bit tougher, but we're getting to know more folks.

Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bears Noting
Life in the Urban Forest (poetry)

My Maine Blog said...

Hi Rosaria...you make me want to pick up and move to your beautiful spot on the Pacific coast. I have even gone so far as to look for houses for sale in the area because there is a part of us, my husband and I, that has always had the wander-lust and love moving and learning about new and different places. We are at our best when change is part of our life. Our best friends just moved to Oregon from Maine a year ago and we miss them dearly so moving to that location has been on the back burner for a while now...but you just fanned the flame again. We have the love of the ocean as we both grew up and were raised on Cape Cod but it became so overwhelmed with tourists in the summertime that went on and bought houses that the population exploded and it was no longer the small town we were used to while growing up and raising our family there. That's when we moved to Maine. As always though everything changes and we do not have friendly neighbors here so of course your surroundings enticed us. I guess you never know what's in store and I never give up thinking that we have maybe just one more move left in us and what a beautiful place it would be to call home. Thanks for sharing your lovely surroundings.
Hugs- Kathleen

Tabor said...

Boy did you luck out. Every community has its personality that is formed by its people and the pressures on those people. But yours sounds like it has great balance.

ellen abbott said...

You are lucky indeed. It sounds like a wonderful community. I think maybe that's what's wrong with this little town we moved to. It's small, less than 10,000, but it's not small enough to become 'special' in some way. That there are three larger communities within about 30 minutes makes it easy for residents to go elsewhere for whatever.

The 35 years or so I lived in my city neighborhood, I knew the names of most the people on my block and could recognize them, we didn't really know or visit them. It was a very mixed racially and age working class neighborhood. Our one block was a cross section...white, black, Mexican, Asian, young, middle age, old. All that has changed with gentrification though.

reasonscheerful123 said...

We never know what we're getting into when we move to a new place. So glad yours worked out well. Your pleasure often shines through in your blog.

yaya said...

I have very nice neighbors here in the country and the ones we had when we lived in town were equally fun and great people. In town, the lady next door would always bring fresh veggies from the garden, brownies and special treats for my boys. I just found out that when she would come home from the grocery store my #3 son would stroll over to her and help take her packages in. He's going to be 33 next week and I had never heard that he did that for her. Now I understand the special treats!

quilterliz said...

G'day Rosaria. Your town sounds just lovely and a fabulous place to live. We know quite a few of our neighbours, though the ones on the left of us keep to themselves and don't make any effort to be overly friendly. They do wave if driving past and I happen to out the front, but that's all. But, that's ok too, they have a right to live how they want to. Take care. Liz...

Lisa said...

I feel your stories of your wonderful home and neighborhood and remembering the story of how you found it, makes it more so.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria .. yes - it's good to know ones neighbours ... I live (rent) in a block of 8 flats: 4 and 4 .. and know everyone .. they're good neighbours - helpful too.

I've always loved the sound of your home and town .. seems so peaceful ..

Cheers Hilary

Rachel Cotterill said...

It sounds wonderful. We know a lot more of our neighbours since my husband stopped working full time, and started to volunteer a couple of hours a week in our village shop. You get to meet a lot of people there :)

Amanda said...

You are lucky. I believe communities have personalities like individuals and they grow and adapt as such. Sounds like Port Orford has the personality of an artist and lives life according to its own drumbeat.

troutbirder said...

This all sounds very familiar. We live in the country near a town of under 2,000 people the largest in our county....

dianefaith said...

Somehow I missed this post earlier, and I'm glad to have eventually found it. I love descriptions of communities that work, and it seems as if you've been lucky enough to find one of them.