I love my village. I distinctly remember visiting a village fete here about nine or ten years ago, sitting in the sunshine and wishing I could move back here, feeling envious of the way everyone knew someone, everyone seemed at home, everyone seemed to share memories, and the whole place reminded me of what was probably the happiest time of my childhood.
So today, I was hugely grateful to find myself sitting on the village green; waving hello to almost everyone that passed by; sharing beers with friends and planning get-togethers with those a few streets away; being greeted by old teachers that I now consider friends. I took a moment to consider just how much history there was among the people I could spot across the tiny makeshift events arena – people I had shared a classroom with, whose children now shared a classroom with mine; people who had watched my children growing up, or with whom I had myself grown up (at least for a portion of my childhood); people with whom I was now making new memories, as new-found friends.
When the opportunity to move back to this village first arose, I was inordinately excited. It evoked in me memories of lazy days at the park with friends, bike rides until dusk; antics in the small village school playground; Sunday afternoon walks through the nearby woods; hours spent scouring the library for a pile of books to read (and, invariably, return past the deadline stamped inside). I knew in an instant that I wanted that for my own (then two) children. Little did I know that I would less than a year later have a third child, one who would enrol at the same village school, beginning her education in the same classroom, as I had attended. My youngest daughter’s first playgroup experience was in the same room where I had distinct memories of meeting my oldest friend, a friendship that endures today, despite the separation of geographical miles and totally contrasting life directions.
And it really has not changed that much. I am happy to say that there is still a genuine spirit of community. The warning I remember hearing from my own mother that she “had a spy on every street” still holds true today. I walk the streets (sometimes I limp, sometimes I jog, mainly I walk) of this village knowing that, if I needed to knock on a door for genuine assistance, I would not have to walk far to do so. When I was unable to get myself to the doctor’s a few months ago because my legs went on strike, it was people in the village – some of whom I don’t even know that well – that offered to come to the rescue.
I happily leave my daughter’s bike untended outside the village shops without fear, and she is, in turn, learning the value of trust in the people around us. In the select few shops and facilities we have (the important ones – you can easily obtain food, drink, a hair-do and an Indian Head Massage – all of life’s essentials!), staff and customers greet each other on first name terms, chat about their children, spouses, friends…
My husband was concerned (as a thoroughbred “townie”) that it would be stifling, that everyone would “know your business” in such a small community. He would now be the first to say that he was absolutely right; they do, and it is truly a lovely thing.