A number of interesting events have happened in our neighborhood in recent weeks, most of which were unplanned. Some were hilarious, and unfortunately, some were tragic.
A new neighbor joined the block to much fanfare, from the traditional welcome goodies, waves and sidewalk introductions to drop-by, ‘make yourself at home’ gifts of all kinds. The excitement to reach out and envelop a new comer was palpable from every corner of the street and beyond.
Then the unexpected left a volunteer water aerobics instructor in compelling need. Within two hours of a subtle request, a significant amount of money was raised as a gift to this selfless friend who dedicates untold hours to run free classes (good ones too, and always with a great soundtrack going on in the background, by the way). Again, the neighbothood truly came together. And the pledges are still pouring in, even from people who only attended just a class or two.
Then when another neighbor was hosting her daughter’s baby shower, gifts from the neighbors poured in like rain, thoughtful handmade bits and generous registry items, even though they’d never met the mom-to-be.
Then there are dog-walking volunteers. (Special note: if you ever feel like you need an ‘in’ to get to know people, a dog with its uninhibited personality and daily need for walks is often a perfect fit–especially in a state so devoted to our four-legged friends.) For instance, when a notoriously rambunctious Labrador mix, known for her sheer strength and speed runs amuck, people with better biceps jump in to help the petite owner. She thought she was getting a pint-sized dog when adopting, but was in for an enormous surprise. The puppy grew to 90 pounds! Thankfully, there were friendly neighbors who jumped right in to tame and entertain her. Fostering dogs all over the area (with many businesses being pet-friendly as well!) is another way this incredibly welcoming place shows its love.
Each individual brings their own background, their own sparkling personality, and puts their own twist on the friendliness that is our coastal community. Like my neighbor from Russia. She speaks not a word of English, but participates in classes with a perpetual smile on her face. It’s infectious. Everyone loves her, even though no one can pronounce her name.
I’ll never forget that when I first moved here, strangers – neighbors now, rather – greeted me on the trail, in the store, in the…anywhere and wherever with friendliness. Simple friendliness. As if we are all college freshmen all over again.
There’s exctiement in the air, like the bike trail, where people greet strangers with sheer politeness (“On your left,” or a simple “Have a great day.”). Unsolicited. A beautiful and remarkable reality of living and retiring in Delaware.
It is one of the enormous advantages of retiring to (and a reason to LOVE living in) Delaware.