There is community everywhere. We have just forgotten how to deepen ourselves into it. Or perhaps we never learned how. I thought I had found a community in other countries, in cities, and among friends of a similar age. But the truest community I have found thus far has been here, in the North Country. Within this small area, two groups have stood out for me. The community of farmers, helping each other when they need to raise a barn or bale hay, and the community of parents, offering clothes that their children have outgrown or a friendly ear. I am glad to have found my way here, and I am inspired by the way that these local farmers and parents care for what is to come.
Since I started working at Lakeside, I have been experiencing a magical phenomenon. Each time I see a child outside of school, a special moment happens. They recognize me with a look of shock and somehow can’t believe that they are seeing me outside of school! How is it possible that we are BOTH at Dogwood for pizza night?! Or at the same event at the Grange?! Or on the ferry to Vermont?!
I cherish these moments, because they remind me of the endless excitement that these children have for the (relatively small) world around them. At Lakeside, I witness the same enthusiasm when a child notices a salamander on the forest path, or an especially large icicle hanging from a rockface.
I watch the children at Lakeside take advantage of the local community without knowing they do so. They benefit from local businesses and craftspeople who support them financially, allowing for tuition reduction and improvements to be made to the school. What’s more, the children’s parents are endless sources of support: to the school and especially to each other.
It is heartening to know that this school is becoming more well-known in the North Country and Adirondack area. That shows me that we are doing something beneficial for the people and for the land. The lifestyle in this part of the country rings true with my appreciation for fresh, local farm food, a love for the beautiful nature that surrounds us, and a reciprocated kindness generated between those who live here. When I think of Essex and the surrounding towns, I think of the memories made at potlucks, bonfires, jam sessions, game nights, concerts, yoga classes, and countless chances to explore the outdoors. I find myself in between generations here, and I am grateful for it. The younger generation revives my awe for small miracles, and the older generation reminds me to slow down.
I feel very much in the middle of it all, since I have only been newly introduced to farming, and I have no children. Yet I still feel engulfed in those smaller communities, since I care for plants and for children. I am blessed to be able to watch them grow, and each season allows for a different expression of community spirit that joins together to support their growth.
I am excited for the children at Lakeside. They get to grow up in an area where farm-fresh veggies are abundant and where the post office workers know their names. Sometime in the not-so-distant future, they will think of where to attend college, and where to find their first job. And many may choose to live elsewhere. But I hope they will somehow be reminded of their foundation, or maybe even return to the simplicity and astounding beauty of this place. I am proud to see that Lakeside is creating a more positive future; we are helping the next generation become kind, healthy individuals who value the world and people around them.