My Changing Perspective On Finding Community

When my husband and I met for the first time in person only six weeks after meeting online, I came to him. I had loads of frequent flyer miles and two weeks of vacation time that I would lose if I did not use it before the end of that month so off I went to England to meet the man I had found quite by accident online.

I had no idea what to expect really even though I had seen photographs of John and Cornwall and even bits of his house and the village, I still did not have a real feeling of what life was like there.

While there are some properties that have parts as old as the 12th or 14th century in the village, we live in a more modern section with many of the houses around us being only twenty or so years old and our home a very young one at thirteen years.

Seeing the houses built so tightly together with so much open land all around them was a surprise to me. I’m not sure why exactly, but I remember thinking at first what a shame it was that the houses were so close. I considered how difficult it must be to feel as if you had any privacy with the houses built as they were.

The view was beautiful though and I was able to see a far distance over the village from my early morning position on the sofa where I would sit with my laptop and write. Blessed with all this beauty I still grumbled to myself about how, as pretty as it was, it would be prettier without the rooftops of other houses.

Can you believe I actually thought that! Let me tell you what’s different about my view now. After living here off and on for most of 2008 and continually since 2009, I’ve settled in and met and made friends with many of the people sheltered underneath those rooftops I once moaned about interfering with my view.

Thanks to days like this and people in the community who reach out to care each other in good weather and bad, I’ve had a chance to meet my neighbors and really learn what it means to be one. I’ve lived so many places in my life and I have become great friends with some people who lived close by, but there’s something different about living in a community as small as this where people come together in the pub, village hall, church and even the village shop.

Finding your own sense community can be difficult due to time and responsibilities. Most of us have too little of the first and too much of second, but if we’re open to looking at things a bit differently we might be surprised by how easy it can be to shift our perspective.

The other day when John was up on the roof working on the house, he encouraged me to climb up and have a look at the view. What I realized standing up there was how differently those rooftops look now that I know the people living beneath them and how much richer my life is for the closeness I feel not just in their physical proximity, but also in the kind way they’ve welcomed me into the community.

I’ve included a rooftop view to help illustrate my new perspective. What about you … is there anything in your life that could benefit from a shift in perspective?

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Mister Rogers would be proud of the people in the little village I now call home. We’ve spent the last week fairly well snowed in and the care and concern I’ve witnessed among my neighbors has been lovely to see. I’ve never lived in a place where I knew so many people. In a village of 500, it is easy to learn not only the names of the people who live here, but often a bit of their history as well. Today I want to share a little with you about a few of my neighbors who help make this such a special place to live. If you are unsure as to who I am referring to when I mentioned  Mister Rogers earlier, this little video will help explain, but be forewarned it might make you cry.

Fred Rogers always began his children’s program with a special song about being neighbors and I’ve mixed in the lyrics which I’ve highlighted in blue with a few pictures of my neighborhood and neighbors.

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

This is the way to my neighbor Janey’s house. Yesterday when I couldn’t get to Port Isaac to have my stitches removed from a small procedure done the week before, Janey volunteered to take them out for me. Now a clinical psychologist, she trained as a nurse in her first career and offered to help when she heard me saying that I might have to do it myself.

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,

In the three pictures below, you can see Gary and Margaret who own the village pub. Margaret is also the post mistress and while I’ve seen them involved in fundraising for charity events more times than I can remember, they have been such good neighbors during this week of snow that it’s really been something to see. Our village shop which houses the post office among other things became a sort of command central staying open and supplying necessary items to keep the people in our community from doing without. Watching Margaret directing and coordinating the restocking efforts while continuing with her regular responsibilities was impressive. Her husband Gary was able after the first 24 hours to make trips in and out of our village maneuvering through the icy lanes in his 4 wheel drive vehicle picking up supplies for the village shop and giving people rides on some of his trips.

Gary cooking at a fundraiser for cancer research.

Gary behind the bar in the pub.

I had trouble finding a picture of Margaret in my files, but managed to find this one of her in the pub. Margaret is rarely seen behind the bar which explains why it looks as it does. I was shooting on the fly and not very well I’m afraid.

The flowers and cottage above belong to Jeff, a 77 year old man who I kept seeing with Gary when I would happen to run into them at the village shop as they were moving about the village giving some people rides in between their frequent trips to get supplies. I usually bump into Jeff three or four times a week and I was surprised to see that I did not have any pictures of him to post.

I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

Len and Mary are the couple you see here with their dog. I caught them just after they had returned our neighbor Betty’s dog after taking it up on the moor for walk for her. Having watched Len and Mary pick up deliveries from the village store all week to take around to some of the older people who could not walk to the shop, I can almost guarantee that what ever is in the bags they’re carrying, it is almost certainly a delivery for someone who can’t manage the snow. All of the good neighbors I mentioned have been tireless during this time making sure everyone who needed something was able to get it. I wanted to acknowledge these folks who did so much for the neighborhood and managed to look as if they were having a good time doing it.

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?