Community and Friendship
One of the things I love about living on Amelia Island is that people are friendly and caring. I’m especially fond of my neighborhood, the contributors to Amelia Island Writers, and friends through church, volunteering, and community activities.
As I approach the Christmas giving finish line, I’m aware of the many thoughtful gifts I have received lately. Most of them were not purchased but shared. For it is the sharing part that is the true meaning of friendship.
When I was ready to adopt, my friend Kathi offered to accompany me to Nassau Humane Society to check out the canine, then called "Leona," who is now my alarm system and walking buddy. Kathi rode home in the back seat with terrified, puking Leah and brought toys for her “temporary visit.”
A few days ago, while walking Leah, I heard a fellow dog walker call out, “better hurry home,” as she tugged her canine, while pointing to the dark clouds. Still fifteen minutes from home, we picked up the pace as the deluge began. A car pulled up and the window rolled down to reveal my friend, Patty. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Coming to find you. I saw you leaving a while ago and knew you were going to get drenched,” she admitted, motioning to get into her car. Where else would you have a friend come and save you (and a wet dog) from getting soaked? I refused the ride, due to our closeness to home and the stinky dog factor, but smiled and pondered my good fortune.
While writing this, a neighbor texted to offer dinner of homemade soup and cornbread. This isn’t anything unusual. People are nice, expecting nothing in return. Other neighbors have shared baked treats, Meyer lemons, vegetables, and plant cuttings. Deb doesn’t have a dog but carries dog treats; Leah considers her a special friend.
A fellow writer was downsizing and passed on an antique glass compote with a dog on it, knowing I love old glass and dogs. She didn’t know my grandmother’s compote had been broken a few years ago. I will cherish this lovely replacement.
Former neighbors recently brought a butterfly garden addition, a pipevine from the local farmer’s market. They knew I would enjoy attracting swallowtails, that feed from and lay their eggs on the vine.
My brother spent hours helping me with garden planning (including getting the pipevine settled in its new home). He also brought, and planted, a slash pine that will provide decades of shade in the neighborhood.
LeeAnn helped me learn to play pickleball, loaning a paddle and balls to practice with. The fact that I planted my face and knees in the court trying to show off on a particularly good return did not deter me; I want to play again.
Others’ gifts of themselves, their time, and bounty have encouraged me to do more, not just this season but throughout the year.
In lieu of exchanging Christmas gifts, a friend and I chose charities each year and make donations in honor of one another. I chose Micah’s Place and she her hometown food bank. In honor of my friends here on Amelia Island, I’ve been donating groceries to the food pantry at Barnabas monthly and will do so throughout the year. Food banks aren’t just for the holidays; people are in need all year long.
Whether you call Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach home, or someplace else, please consider your local charities and small businesses when you gift this season and throughout the year. Consider buying gift cards, from local restaurants and shops, for giving or your own future use. Whatever you do, share of yourself and gift from the heart.