Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Happy to be here
Recently, my husband and I hired a car service to drive us home after an evening out. The driver arrived, as indicated on our smart phone. As we got inside the vehicle, we engaged in conversation with the driver, who was not from this region. He said he is always happy to take fares in our area as he has become familiar with the county and loves the beautiful surroundings, as well as the people he meets.
During the short ride, he marveled at how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. We agreed. We discussed how special the community is and how we, statically, have a higher than usual number of nonprofits and other organizations who offer care and services.
My husband said he thinks those of us who moved here from another part of the state (or country), chose this area because of it’s natural beauty. Choosing and then being able to find housing and form a life here has left us grateful. We know we are fortunate and privileged to have raised our family here and to still be able to find a way to pay our mortgage.
As community members, we know we are lucky. We appreciate what we have, and we pass that on by giving back in a variety of ways. We take care of each other. We are still a relatively small community. We know our neighbors. We look out for one another.
Yes, we do look out for one another.
A few days later, I was just finishing loading groceries into my car when I heard someone call out my name and saw a friend walking toward me. We began to chat, eventually moving out of the heat of the parking lot and into the lobby of the store.
About 20 minutes later, I finally said goodbye and returned to my vehicle. A man in a pick-up parked next to me motioned for me to roll down my window, which I did.
“I just wanted you to know I have been kind of waiting out here to make sure you are okay,” he said. “I came out and saw your groceries in the back seat, but your door was wide open, and I didn’t see anyone around, so I just wanted to wait a bit and make sure no one had been abducted or anything.”
I explained I had run into a friend while returning my cart and thanked him for shutting my door.
“I actually wrote down your license plate and make and model just in case there was a report of some foul play,” he said. “You never know!”
I thanked him again, assured him I was fine and went about my day, feeling a little foolish for walking off without securing my vehicle — leaving my groceries, computer, and other valuables completely for the taking. Had this kind man not taken up vigilance, I like to think nothing would have been taken, but just ask anyone in local law enforcement and they will tell you I was lucky.
Looking out for one another
Again, it comes back to feeling fortunate to live in the Sierra foothills. People still look out for one another.
I have a friend who moved to a new neighborhood a couple of years ago. She knows several of her neighbors now. One has taken on the task of gathering names, telephone numbers and email addresses and distributing it to all in the area. The “phone tree” of sorts, is used to announce yard sales, potlucks, an occasional street party and most recently, to disseminate information around fire safety.
My own neighborhood association does an excellent job of letting parcel owners know when potential issues may arise. It is a bit more organized than the informal group my friend lives with.
My neighbors do try to hold informal pot lucks and the association is tasked with the care of road issues. We also get notices of county ordinances, the status of utilities as they affect our parcels, information about new and former neighbors, even educational pieces on local horticulture and events.
We look out for one another. Sometimes to the point of intrusion, but certainly with the best of intention.
Living in a neighborhood where we can name more of our neighbors than not and in extension, many of the members of the community, means when things happen — good or bad — it feels personal. A report of a house fire or automobile accident undoubtedly turns out to be someone we know either personally or by extension. Our news is full of familiar names — from those who report, to those who contribute opinion pieces, to the obituaries.
The members of our community are invested, and work to have it reflect our values. We count on the leaders elected to represent us — to uphold and protect all that we hold dear. When things seem out of our control on the larger scale, there is comfort in knowing we can still make a difference in our own back yard.
We know this is a special place to live and it shows. How lucky are we?!
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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