As I pack away bathing suits and pull out sweaters from storage, I watch my part-time neighbors—snowbirds—take their leave for warmer climates. Almost overnight, this bustling New England community dwindles to a few intrepid cold-loving folks.
At the height of summer, my morning runs often take a good 20 minutes longer than normal to account for all of the quick chats with folks out getting exercise or walking their dogs. Come October, I can go days without seeing a soul.
The sound of chainsaws and log splitters—people stockpiling wood for fires—and pleasure boats puttering offshore at summer’s end gives way to a deep quiet that can be unnerving as things begin to turn inward. Now, more than ever, is when I hunger for the comfort and connection of a community.
But I’m a newcomer to the area—what folks here call (not quite lovingly) “from away.” When I asked my realtor how to meet people and make friends, her answer was (not quite lovingly) to leave New York in New York. Hmmm…so much for being one’s authentic self.
So, it begs the question. Is community something you find and fit into or is it something you create? Neither is easy. But one thing I come back to when I feel disconnected and out of place is feeding people—lots of them.
Soup kitchens bring people together with purpose: to feed and to be fed. For me, it’s a bit of both, but what I receive overwhelmingly exceeds what I give. Offering nutritious, belly-filling food to hungry folks on a bone-chilling day is the fastest and simplest way of feeling part of something bigger than myself. Lovely words from a nearby community kitchen and meeting space, “We are all hungry: some for food, some to share their expertise in a way that is meaningful, some for a sense of purpose, and some to belong. All of our hungers lead us to relationships with one another.”
Wishing everyone warmth, comfort, and connection.