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.