There’s nothing like a milestone in life, such as a wedding (or a birth), undertaken in a particular location to announce your presence in a community. 6 years ago we opted for an informal wedding on the farm, which was just as well because we had 220 guests. With so many expected, we turned to the local resources around us to help. A local butcher who’d been to school with my father in law was engaged to provide the roasted meats, a local caterer for the salads, a local flower grower grew the flowers, a local woman made my floral hair thingy, and unexpectedly the local publican threw her lot in to help with the drinks.
And then it rained.
By the time the ceremony arrived, many locals and guests were already well acquainted. This was due to the unexpected weather, which forced us to relocate everything in the morning to the local hall for the ‘reception’. Everyone rallied to help. Near the end of it all, the butcher, Gordon, had finished his meat duties and was helping in the kitchen. I caught him at one stage with the washing up gloves on. He is now our butcher for life. Jo, the local publican, ended up coming down to help distribute the drinks, due to the high demand of the workers – oops, sorry, I mean ‘guests’. 6 years on, we still greet each other with a hug when we see each other. Beata the caterer I still bump into regularly in the area with a warm hello.
A few days later, I popped into the local farm shop and the owners I now know as Frank and Erika greeted me with a kind enquiry about our wedding – ‘How did the big day go? Heard there was a giant love heart mown into the paddock!’ (which indeed there was) – and I knew I was ‘in’.
I love our community. I love popping into the butcher’s and seeing Gordon, Danny, and Narelle, asking for cooking tips and knowing I’m going to get some choice cuts. I love heading into the chemist’s and being comfortable enough to ask for advice. I love treating myself to a coffee in the local Cafe, passing the time of day (well, quickly, toddlers aren’t compatible with cafes) with friends and staff whilst I’m there. I love heading into the local general store and having them address the boys by name. I love them telling me there’s a parcel waiting, without me having to check the PO Box. I love that our electrician spends as long having a cup of coffee with us as he does doing his job.
But (why is there always a ‘but’?). Small Community life can also backfire. Recently, I was in the supermarket (30mins away), when I bumped into some friendly acquaintances from Nabiac. That was nice. But it was at the start of the shop. So for the rest of the 12 or so aisles I was pretty much following them around like a stalker. Which, wherever you are, can get a little awkward, especially when you need to access the women’s er, ‘toiletries’ section, which is next to the general toiletries section.
But this is nothing really, compared with having a specialist’s appointment of a ‘personal’ nature (ooo, I do love an inverted comma), and realising you’ve met that specialist at a social function just recently. I’m sure you can picture the waiting room. Me: “Oh. It’s You. Umm… Hello. This is a little awkward, isn’t it?”
Sometimes, it’s valid to head out from the small community – in this case, Newcastle doesn’t seem quite so far away now, does it.
Ahhh, village life. You gotta’ love it.