Nestled in the foothills of the Adirondacks, there is a Village. Pure Americana - apple pie & 4th of July. Founded 1783. Complete with residents whose families have lived there for generations. Hundred + year old houses grace the streets - a strong nod to times past. The signs at the entrance tout the slogan "The Friendly Village".
They don't deliver mail in "The Village" - you have to go The Post Office.
If you want a chain store, you have to drive down the road "a ways" (although the past few years have brought some chain restaurants closer to the fringes).
The Village is the gateway to The Lake - so for several months of the years, the locals have to put up with "theoutoftowners" - even worse "outoftownersfromdownstate" or "outoftownersfromNewJersey".
Every location is preceeded by the word "The" - if you hadn't noticed. There is no need to specify - because if you're local, you just know.
It is not unusual for families to live in the house that they grew up in - and their parents before them. People know people. And their mother & father. And their grandparents. And their aunts & uncles. There isn't a lot of room to hide - not a lot of secrets within the community. Unless you are from The Outside - and then you get the sense that they have secrets...
This is where I live. My Community. For better or worse. While I grew up in a more rural setting, my grandparents were from The Village and it is the place my mother called home as she grew up.
A place where you don't have to ask what your kids are up to - because five people will stop you on your way in the driveway and let you know.
A place where porches serve not only aesthetic & functional purposes, but as a gathering place for eating & gossiping & "visiting".
A place where you don't have to worry about coming home from work on the day of a snowstorm and finding two feet of snow at the end of your driveway - because someone already took care of it. And knowing that the person who helped you is just as confident that if they ever need a hand - you'll be there to reciprocate in kind.
A place where friendships are made at "the end of the driveway". Over weeding. Over sweeping. Taking out the garbage. Where witty banter is passed and exchanges regarding well-being are made. And the latest "on dit" is passed along.
This week, we lost one of our "end of the driveway" friends. You can sense the heaviness in the neighborhood - there is a hole. Personally, I will miss the "Honeymooners"-esque banter and chatting about life as we know it. Things just won't be the same.
Good bye, Paul.