Sunday, August 19, 2007

Reaching Out a Bit

This afternoon we were invited to a potluck for families in my homeschool support group. The event took place at another family's home in Dripping Springs which is just south of Austin, pleasantly scenic and undeveloped, but hardly convenient -- a good 30-minute drive for us and longer for others. I waffled on going, as is typical for me with things like this -- group social times, especially when I don't know the people too well ( I do like the other moms but I see them maybe once a month) still intimidate me after all these years! (I wonder where my kids get it ...) However, we'd missed the last one and I felt like we should go and make some effort at community-building since the opportunity was being offered. Besides, we've never attended something that included the whole family, especially the dads!
Well, the property was gorgeous. I know everyone has their private struggles, but it was hard to imagine ever being too stressed out living in a place like that, where you could be doing dishes at your kitchen sink and gazing out the huge windows the at the sun or moon rising over the unbroken line of trees bordering your field. Some of the kids got sopping wet playing in the creek by the treeline; others, mine included, spent a good amount of time following the hens around, climbing tees, and collecting eggs. Eventually we roped most of them in for an informal singalong; we'd been encouraged to bring a folksong to share. Music Together came in handy for us! :-) Ian, contrary to his predictions, found a couple guys to mess around and fill up water guns with, while Eliza and Caroline rolled hoops around the patio and just generally blended in with the other kids fairly well. At the end the hosting parents got out a huge jump-rope and let the kids try out their jumping skills -- remember "Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish"? I was so proud of Ian and Eliza for giving it a go, especially Ian who is not so coordinated and shies away from the limelight.
Anyway, of course I was wishing I'd brought my camera, but we'll have to settle for some pleasant memories. As usual, I found myself wondering whether I'd like to live in a place like this. Part of me covets the peace and quiet, and open spaces for the kids to roam and climb and dig and learn some self-sufficiency in nature without it being kind of contrived, and then part of me wonders just how long we'd last without a community of neighbors. We don't have nearly the neighborly camaraderie here that we did in SC (example of the latter: one weekend we were visiting my grandparents in Charleston, and my next door neighbor called -- "Hey, aren't y'all out of town? Did you mean to leave your back door wide open? We didn't think so so I just sent Bill over to close it ...":-)), but we are friends with the family next door, and honestly, there's nothing like easy walking distance for spontaneous conversation and connection. It's the classic trade-off, I suppose, between freedom and community, and it's not easy to know which is the best fit for us right now. Anyway, we can't move anywhere until Tim finishes his degree, so it's not really an issue right now! Guess we'll just bloom where we're planted for now ...

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