hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Solstice

We have the summer solstice this week and having attended a neighborhood solstice party tonight, I am reminded again how the neighborhoods here are particularly central to whatever sense of community we have in Point Roberts.  There are so many forces that divide people here (residents/non-residents, Canadians/Americans, retirees/working people, conservatives/liberals, wealthy/not so much, boat folks/earth folks, etc.), that we're lucky to find any kind of community feeling.  However, it really does exist in the many neighborhoods that for the most part don't even have any name.  There are a few formal neighborhood associations, and those residents work at their neighborhood community sense more consciously and intentionally than the rest of us, but we all seem to feel the need for this connection with one another, even though it is fragile.

Such feelings of connectedness are frequently activated by events that are mostly seasonal, especially around the Winter and Summer Solstices, or a few other standard holidays.  Usually, somebody offers a casual evening or afternoon party and invites a few friends/relatives from wherever and 10 or 20 or even more folks from their neighborhood.  In my experience, these are mostly events at which no one knows anyone else very well (other than relatives or close friends of the host), but nor are they strangers.  They run into each other occasionally around town, they borrow equipment from one another in time of necessity, they recognize one another's kids if they have any, they have enough in common to be able to talk pleasantly to one another for several hours.  And you leave the party at the end, pleased that you've been invited and been able to come, pleased to know that there is something which you have shared with others who may not be that much like you but with whom you share this place.

Because of the problem with the sudden enforcement of leash laws, dog people have become a different kind of community group: one whose members meet with one another and their dogs on a regular basis.  In part, this is because they are a group that needs to find some way to fix the problem of the absence of a place where dogs may play and run and chase with their owners and, even more so with one another, without the fear of the owners being ticketed.  But, these dog people have also found that they also can enjoy something like the community seasonal parties.   I've been to one of these dog owner outings and hope to go to more, even though I don't have a dog.  But, there we were, hanging out together in a wonderful outdoor setting, a dozen or so people and their dogs, most of whom know one another a little at least.  They spend an hour or so together, and at the end of the dog time, they all know one another a little better.  They may never become close friends, but what the time together gives them is an opportunity to feel a bit more part of a broader community.  And that can only be all to the good for those occasions when we need actually to function as if we were a cohesive community.

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