I lived in Seattle for 11 years, and during that time, I can count on one hand the number of times I was out running errands and randomly ran into someone I knew. We’ve now lived here on the Island for 10 years, and in that time, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been out running errands and NOT run into a friend. Of course, it took me a while to adjust my big-city, max-efficiency mindset and grasp the beauty of errands as social opportunity, but now I realize what a blessing it is. Going to the hardware store is a chance to talk fishing with buddies; the grocery store often means conversations about kid soccer or basketball; and dinner out can turn into multi-family dining with kids and parents all happy to see each other.
It’s funny, but we were a little concerned when we moved out here that living in a house way back in the woods might lead to isolation. Turns out, nothing could be farther from the truth. This is a community that helps each other and looks out for each others’ kids, a place where a trip to town means a chance to chat with friends, and help with anything–wood cutting, weeding, boat fixing, kid transportation–is truly just a phone call away. I feel lucky to be a part of it.
And nothing captures that spirit like our small-town 4th of July parade. There’s nothing particularly grand or spectacular about it (the scotty dogs and rope skippers are often high points), and it would be easy for visitors from bigger, grander cities to call it hokey or yawn in boredom. But it’s a fun and happy time, with community pride all around. You don’t have to call ahead and make plans to meet up with friends, you just go down there and run into them. The kids play and run, the parents talk and laugh, and everyone eats street food and ice cream. And come to think of it, that’s pretty grand and spectacular after all.