Sunday, August 27, 2017

Paradise ponders: Trout & Berry Days edition...

Paradise ponders: Trout & Berry Days edition...  As planned, we attended the Trout & Berry Days dinner last night.  We got there 15 minutes before they were scheduled to start serving, and two things became apparent very quickly: there were way more people here this year than there were a year ago, and the hard-working volunteer crew were behind schedule.  We had to wait in line quite a while before we got to the smiling trout-fryers and servers.  Ordinarily that's the sort of thing I would absolutely hate – but this was actually enjoyable.  First, I was in a small group of relatives (Debbie and my brother Scott), friends, and new friends.  Scott brought along a friend (Glen L.) from Newton who was lots of fun to talk with, and our friend Bruce N. brought one of his son's (Nate) whom we'd never met before.  There was much interesting conversation and lots of laughs.  The only downer was that Debbie ran out of “standing steam” and had to go sit by herself while the rest of us kept her place in the line.  Even that wasn't so bad, though: very quickly she had local acquaintances all around her.

The photo above right shows about half the seating as we left – and there was still a long line to get served!  Depending on who you talk with, last year they served between 900 and 1,100 meals.  This year it looks to me like they easily doubled that, and maybe substantially more.

As in prior years, we each got a plate with a grilled trout, baked potato, fresh sweet corn, a salad, a bottle of water, and all the trimmings.  We also got a ticket good for one berry dessert; mine was blackberries on custard, in a graham cracker shell, with whipped cream.  Adding to the fun for me was the fact that about half the cooks and servers are people we know; we were often greeted by name and a big happy smile.  All of the food – but most especially the trout – was delicious.  We sat completely surrounded by our little circle of relatives and friends, with our conversations continuing as we stuffed all that culinary gloriosity into our faces.  In addition, every few minutes someone who knew us would stop by to say hi, and sometimes to introduce us to a family member we didn't already know.

Usually large gatherings like this make me very uncomfortable, and would completely wear me out – that's my introversion showing.  That didn't happen last night, which more than anything is evidence of much I feel myself as part of this community, and not an outsider (which is normally how I feel in any gathering).

Debbie and I love living near this small town full of people so compatible with us.  We know (and like!) more people here than in the sum of all the places we've ever lived before.  We know all of our neighbors, and are quite friendly we many of them.  We all help each other on darned near a daily basis.  If we ever needed some kind of substantial help (whether financial, skills, or labor) there's no doubt in our minds that we'd be swarmed with volunteers to provide it.  We do our best to reciprocate, but if we were keeping a ledger we'd be deep in debt to the community at this point.  In addition we know quite a few people from the town (a half mile or so south of us).  I struggle to put it into words, but the bottom line is that our experience living here is profoundly different than our experiences living in California – and all of that difference is in favor of Paradise.  We are daily thankful that we made the decision to leave California when we retired...

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