The gravel path is lined with sand dunes – bumps of sand covered in tall skinny grass. I am comforted to know the ocean is just on the other side of the dunes. I can’t see it but I can surely hear it. At times I hear a thud like that of a bass drum as a wave crashes on the rocks. After an hour of walking I meet only one other person and on my way back the sun sets on the horizon before me. I can see silhouettes of surfers making their way on the boardwalk. There is a slight cool breeze and through the sun’s rays I see the salt spray being pushed by the wind and by the force of the surf, up over the dunes. This is my neighborhood. Welcome.
In the past few weeks I have heard the words “Welcome to the neighborhood” more times than I ever heard them in the 17 years I lived in an apartment in the city. I saw people every time I stepped out of my apartment door and only rarely were words exchanged. If they were they were a brief hello in the hall or a “have a good day” as someone stepped off the elevator. I didn’t know the people that lived across the hall or beside me. The change over of neighbors was so rapid, there wasn't always a chance to get to know one another. I often thought of my neighbors as an inconvenience actually, wondering when they might move on to the next apartment building so I wouldn’t hear their balcony conversations. There just never seemed to be enough space between us. In rural Nova Scotia though, space is not a luxury item. There is space for me, my neighbors, and the nature that surround us all.
In the 17 years I lived in close quarters with my neighbors in the city, I felt such a sense of things being temporary, knowing that my apartment neighbors would uproot at any time. Now, I feel a sense of permanency. I have a desire to grow deep roots in my new community, and grow old along the shore.
I was meant to live not only rurally, but specifically, in a quaint rural community by the sea. I am being reminded on a daily basis now just how much the salt water is part of my make-up - part of who I am at my core. So too is rural life. I grew up rurally and I understand rural living. I appreciate the culture of a small community. I am even enjoying the commute to work in the city, and I consider nothing about rural life to be an inconvenience. The pay-off is too high.
In the past I felt out of sorts in the city – like there wasn’t a place for me. I wanted to be involved in a community but always felt like the community was so much bigger than myself – and I really never found my place. Many people live, and love living, in the city, and those people feel a part of something special – I appreciate what those people have discovered – but the city life is not for me.
As I settle into my new neighborhood I am eager to explore it, and to get involved in it. I can’t wait to volunteer with the local market and community centers, and I am enjoying contributing to small locally run businesses and getting to know my neighbors. Especially these guys……
As I end this post I am eager to head out to continue to explore my new neighborhood. The sea is calling me, and it is welcoming me home.