Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Friendliness of neighbours

What I don't get is why a state of friendliness is a fleeting thing.

So, here I am, at my mom and her husband's time-share/fractional condo/cottage dealy and it's given me some time to think.
Within hours of arriving on Monday my first action was to walk to the small lake (big pond?) behind this set of fractional condo/cottage dealies with my camera and take some photos of landscapes - OK, not landscapes per se, but water lilly shots. Hey, I was tapping my inner Monet (which sounds wrong!). The water lillys looked best just off a small dock that must've been built for some previous cottage. Just a little ways down the lake-pond is a small beach owned by the owners of the cottage/condo dealy. Here, on this small beach, are the essential Muskoka chairs, picnic tables: a couple each of canoes, kayaks, paddleboats and row boats. I walked over to this area only to find a couple of kids swimming and their dad lounging in the aforementioned muskoka chair. I wanted to take a look at the canoes because, since they were there and I needed to tap my inner portagers (word?), I wanted to take a boot in the canoe. Still clutching my camera with it's large pro lens, the dad started to talk to me about photography. It was an in that I hadn't expected. We didn't exchange anything more than small talk - hell he could probably learn more about me from Facebook (if their stupid privacy controls hadn't made me remove almost all my information) then he did from our conversation, but it was a friendly conversation: one that most likely wouldn't happen in my regular neck of the woods outside of a camera show or something of that ilk.

As I walked back from the lake-pond to the cottage/condo dealy, I saw another Dad with his two sons walking towards the lake-pond; fishing polls in hand. A quick friendly smile and hello was all that was warranted, nae, required as deemed appropriate by society, and was all that was given.

I got back to the cottage/condo, put on my swim trunks and made my way back to the lake-pond. I selected a life jacket from a nearby shed and the red canoe and pushed off into the still waters of the lake-pond. Canoeing is great. I hadn't done it since I was a teenager when my dad taught me at a cottage that he and my mom used to rent. It's a great way to get back to a simpler time and inspired me to rent a campsite and get all Louis Riel (appropriate reference?).

As I paddled around the lake-pond and across the lake-pond, I couldn't help myself from being neighbourly and paddling over to the fishing dad and his two sons who were occupying one of the rowboats. Our conversation regarded whether they had caught any fish and whether there was any competition between the two brothers for most fish caught. While the dad seemed a little, uncomfortable, the kids were happy to gab about the fish they'd caught and quick to denounce any kind of competition.
It was a pleasant, friendly conversation. Are you noticing a trend yet?
After finishing paddling around the lake, I returned to the cottage/condo dealy and happily reported to my mom and her husband that I had "met the neighbours." My mother was shocked. "We've been coming up here for 2 years and never met any of the neighbours," replied she.
Knowing my mother and her husband, this wasn't entirley surprising. But I will admit to all of you, that what was surprising, is that I had.
I can't help but believe that were I back in the city that these kind of interactions would never happen (or at least rarely) or that I'd have any interest in indulging in them.
These are people I will never see again. Most of whom I couldn't tell you their names, but for even just a few minutes, we as cottage/condo dealy neighbours are engaged in the quickly-dying social contract of "good neighbours".
Hell, that same night my mom and step-dad and I took our rented speedboat out on a proper lake and as we passed people on their docks, they smiled and waved creating and honouring that sense of community that in the city and suburbs is dying.
It's just so refreshing to have these small interactions that paradoxically mean so little and yet so much. It helps me push myself to be social and, dare I say it, pleasant! And, I think what's most important, is that it helps perserve the social aspect of life that, despite Facebook, is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Why does it take a remote cottage/condo type dealy to create a neighbourhood and friendly social atmosphere when in the city and suburbs we're so much closer and yet so much farther apart?

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