Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Building Community, Person By Person

Building Community, Person By Person
            Last week Bonnie called the Rancho Esperanza residents together for the first meeting in years. Understandably, it is difficult to have a meeting when the casas are, for the most part empty. This year has brought changes. Do hotcakes sell fast? Well, these casas are selling like the proverbial breakfast staple.

            The meeting was called to announce that we would have meetings. Oh, yes, there’s more. First, the nuts and bolts—choose officers to preside. Bonnie’s vision is to follow her father’s dream. Together, we will enhance our smaller Rancho community and contribute to our larger community of Etzatlan.

            What I know, because I’ve lived longer than Bonnie, is that we will create a vital community. And, yes, we will be a participating element in Etzatlan. But we will not recreate her father’s dream, at least not fully. Certainly, in part, yes. We are different people; these are different times.

            Each one of us perked up. Each one of us has a different dream. Like any normal, dysfunctional family, we’ll figure out how best to live together.  

            Community happens in small ways. Yesterday I went with John and Carol to Tonola for a day of exploration and shopping. We left early in the morning, on the first day of time’s “fall back”. We returned just as dark pulled the shade over what light remained. We returned tired, weary, happy, muscles screaming from hours of walking on cobblestone streets, standing, waiting—shopping. (I didn’t buy anything. There was nothing I needed.)

            I’d been in bed an hour when I heard Lani calling my name from outside my window. “Are you home? Are you okay? Is anything wrong? We were worried when you didn’t come home.”

            I assured her we’d had a fun day, a long day; all is well in my world. I think this kind of caring is the essence of community.

            Last week Teresa and her friend Chris were here. Long-time friends, they both lost partners to cancer mere weeks ago. They came to regroup, to grieve, to reassess their lives. At Josue’s and Erica’s suggestion, about fifteen of us gathered for a community (that word again) potluck of welcome. Before they flew home, we met again for dinner at a mountainside restaurant. Community.

            A mere three days on the Rancho and Chris leased the “Peanut” casa with the hopes of buying it in a few months; if not it, he’ll choose another. He’s going back to Portland to expedite his retirement and sell his house. (I keep saying, there is “something” in the water and that something is tricky.) Pamela, my friend who came here a couple weeks ago, has her name on “Charlie’s” place. Milo, Bonnie’s brother, returned from the States and bought a place. I count only five or six homes left empty.

            We are in our fourth week of Qi Gong in the Park, taught twice weekly by Samantha, with participants from the Rancho and from the City. Community. We meet every morning in my back yard for practice. Community.

            Saturday was the “Farmer’s Parade” in town. Farm families, men, women, children, babes in arms, marched carrying corn stalks, sugar cane, flowers or chili peppers, led by flag bearers, accompanied by dancers in traditional regalia, a “drum” much like we are used to seeing, hearing, by religious leaders bearing a Statue, ranchers on dancing horses, and tractors.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. Next to me stood Martina with her family. Martina is one of our Qi Gong friends. The parade ended at the Cathedral where people, crops and animals are blessed and thanks is given for bountiful crops and good seasons. It’s a beautiful ceremony. I cried. I’m easily sentimental.

We from the Rancho went to watch Leo march with his people. Leo, who helps us all, has a small farm with cows and sheep on the edge of town, in the hills.

            Next week Crin will be here to determine what needs doing in her new casa. She’ll be back and forth several times a year from Victoria, B.C. The first of December Kathy and Richard will arrive, perhaps for a short stay, perhaps with early retirement.

            We are a community being birthed, in transition, smaller than the smallest town. And we all know what that’s like. My Dad told me years ago when he had made a particular difficult decision. “Some will be happy. Some will be angry.” And in some fashion, like a dysfunctional family without the blood connection, we will work together. Some grumbling. Some smiling. Grumbles and smiles will shift with each new decision. Grumbles and smiles—the cement with which we shall build. 


Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

November 3, 2016

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