I grew up in small town Northern New York. No, not NYC, Northern NY. My husband first described it as "Drive into the middle of nowhere and then keep going for a couple more hours." Middle of nowhere towns=everyone knows everyone. There's such a community there, it's mighty special.
In 2003, my brother and I picked up our lives and moved to separate apartments in adjacent towns in New Hampshire. I was starting graduate school and he was transferring his credits to continue his undergraduate degree. We knew no one but each other. I tell you, it was soooo odd going grocery shopping. I'd go for an hour and recognize no one. No one greeted me, asked how my dad was doing, asked what my brother was up to or asked if I had been making any quilts lately. No one, other than the cashier, said anything to me. It was so foreign being anonymous in a grocery store. Even more weird was being anonymous in that great river front apartment. I came a couple weeks before my brother to get settled in, and I didn't know anyone. I spent my days exercising, sewing and reading an entire book when I first moved. No one greeted me or welcome me to the neighborhood/apartment complex. Where is that community?, I wondered. Given I was very lonely and not a patient person, I decided to create my own community. I baked for all my neighbors and welcomed myself to the neighborhood. What do you know...marvelous neighbors....many who I am still in touch with today! One couple set me up on this random blind date (which has led to a nearly 9 year marriage). As much as we loved the community in that NH apartment, nothing gold can stay.
We ended up purchasing a cute little home in the woods in Maine in 2006. "Here we go again, starting over", I thought. Another place where we knew no one. I waited for the welcome to the neighborhood, nothing. No longer a rookie at welcoming myself to a neighborhood, I got straight to work. Over 8 years we have lived in this neighborhood now. As I was driving home the other day, I had an epiphany. I left the community I grew up in, but years later, although I will always have that old community, I now have a new community. The neighbors wave. We trade animal care. We have playdates. Some watch our kids. We stop to chat. We share eggs. We make plans. People call/stop by looking for the 'bread lady'. We open our home and have a house full. Our place has become a gathering place. I'm thankful this sense of community has blossomed, as the community we built have been such an integral part of my children's childhood already. I must say, I have a particular love for the relationships between little ones. These are just a few of the shots I captured in the last month that melt my heart. In addition to these pictures below, there's another dozen or so children who have walked through our doors in the last month and I've had similar feelings of joy watching all the little ones interact (I just need to remember my camera more often). I am confident that this sense of community will continue to be fostered and it is my hope that our home will always be a welcoming place for that community.
And now, I've rambled on enough...here's the pictures that I hold near and dear to my heart. Lots of friendships right here. <3