I may have mentioned that we live in a tiny village -- maybe 200 people in an 8-mile radius, but I'm not a statistician nor census amateur -- and that we live in the exact epicenter of this tiny village. A picture postcard, really, with the white Grange and white church and red schoolhouse and red fire station. Oh, and a three-story IOOF lodge, slightly ridiculous, mysterious in its size. And all of it visible from my front room window. Our home was built in 1887, which is ancient in the West, and from our porch we can watch the mini metropolis action. My girls walk to school, so this view from the porch is important. I stand on the porch when it's raining or at the picket fence out front when it's clear. They turn and wave when they reach the building. If I have prematurely turned to go inside, I hear about it at 2:10 when they come home.
Today was the first day of school and the first time that they were not new. It takes a lot longer than a year to overcome the "new" label for adults, of course, but today the kids greeted my children not as outsiders but as old and best friends. Last year was hard; we took a lot of personal days, explaining to the part-time school administrator that the constant rough country hazing required frequent safety zone retreats. So any little excuse had us hideaway hermiting for the day: new chicks to watch, a barn going up, grandpa passing through from the neighboring town, too tired, too shy, too fed up. These were hard decisions, each day we kept them home. How to become a member of the whole when absence is much more comfortable? Their teacher, also new to our community, conceded that they certainly learned more while at home.
But this year is starting on a completely different note. We feel the tiniest bit part of the community, where it takes a village possibly, but that village has to want you.