I’m going to blame it on the weather. Outside The Box has been as blank and white as the snow-covered Maine landscape this month. I’m still finishing up the second January sock (just the toe to finish, thank goodness), and I did buy some soft pink yarn for February’s footwear. If I really put my mind (and fingers) to the task, I may be able to finish this month’s and next month’s socks by the end of March. In the meantime, I’ll be wielding a much larger tool than my double-pointed needles.
Need I say it? The shovel.
On Friday, the snow began falling before daylight and continued until dusk. Our community “plowguys” barreled through at regular intervals, keeping the roads clear and wide, and as I watched the white stuff pile up at an alarming rate all day, I scowled and daydreamed about moving to Hawaii. Then I washed laundry and did the dishes. Finally, around noon, Dear Daughter and I began watching back-to-back episodes of LOST on Netflix and trying to find clues that would back up my theory that the Island is a metaphor for purgatory, a holding place where the characters are forced to face their bad choices and inner demons and make restitution before moving on, so to speak, off Island. Since I seem to be living in a Miltonian icy rendition of hell here in Maine, Purgatory In Paradise offered some psychological relief from the mid-winter blues.
“Anything but shoveling” became my motto of the day.
I realize I could have been finishing the socks instead of numbing my brain on now-defunct television shows and idle thoughts of emigration to tropical paradises. I am, if nothing else, adept at procrastination on many levels. However, despite my not inconsiderable shirking skills, I finally conceded to reality and donned my new ski pants (bought at 75% off at Levinsky’s, a family-owned, Maine surplus store which opened in Portland in 1919 and is now located in Windham. Click HERE to read more about this local gem!) and headed out to shovel, scoop, slide around on the underlying ice, and curse Mother Nature and her evil spawn, Snow.
An hour or so later, the area in front of the garage was clear, the end of the driveway passable, and my clothes and boots and hair were soaked from the wet, heavy precipitation which still continued to fall from the dark gray sky. The plows had given way to the sand-trucks. Kicking off my boots and throwing my wet outerwear into the clothes-dryer, I contemplated the pros and cons of living in this condominium-on-steroids homeowners association in which I live.
Lately we have had a marked increase in community activism. A facebook page was created. One hundred-fifty community members signed up. There has been discussion of road maintenance, clubhouse oversight, neighborhood crime watches, possible creation of a dog park, and renewed interest in a community garden. More people than usual attended the latest monthly Board of Trustee meeting. People have expressed willingness to serve on various committees.
I see all this as reason for hope. Together, we can make a more vibrant, sustainable community within our larger town communities. As part of an association, we accept an added level of responsibility (including extra fees) along with our added benefits. And while it is important to strengthen our association, we also should remember that there are great opportunities for service and fellowship outside our gravel roads and wooded house lots, over the river and through the woods to our town Main Streets. As townspeople, we can support our local library, shop at our local stores, have lunch at our local restaurants, and join our local civic organization. Since we aren’t zoned for business, it is important to support our local town businesses as much as possible. Greater outreach and cooperation between the “sister” towns and our association can only be positive for everyone.
Nothing is ever perfect, weather or culture or community. Sometimes we need to take a little break, hole up in our houses, and retreat. Eventually, though, the time comes to pick up that shovel and get to work, because there is always work to be done . . . Outside the Box.