1.Tuning into nature every day. Being outdoors (and the screened porch counts!) has become a way of life, rather than a byproduct of going from one place to another. I’ve begun learning the names of some trees and plants (in our yard, we have three kinds of palms – sego, windmill and coco). I’ve watched egrets fish in concert with cormorants. The cormorants dive and stir up fish; the egrets patrol the edge of the lagoon and snatch them up (the fish, that is, not the cormorants). Dragonflies used to make me nervous. Now I see their beauty. Alligators are mostly shy, ducking underwater when Dan rushes out with his binoculars. But during mating season, the alpha male makes a noise like a Harley revving up, to warn other males to get out of his territory.
2.Recreating is more than exercising. Although I’ve worked out faithfully for over thirty years, it took Pickleball and Trixie the tricycle to transform exercise into fun. Some days I may have to push myself to get out on the bike trail, but I’m never sorry once I’m there, watching the sunlight dapple through the Spanish moss, listening to bird calls. And Pickleball? It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on, people. It’s running, sweating, laughing, playing and being a kid again, only with less cooperative tendons and joints.
3.A sense of community. People here wave and say hello when they pass. Neighbors take you in on the holidays if you don’t have other plans. People hang out and chat and, yes, gossip about each other. I not only know the names of my neighbors, I know the names of their dogs. I have a best friend who lives down the block and we bike back from Pickleball together. I feel connected to others. Our social calendar is fuller. What a wonderful time of life to be a part of things!
4.A different kind of diversity, sort of. Everybody here is from somewhere else and most are new to the area. All my life I’ve lived in the tristate corridor of NY, NJ, and PA, largely in cohorts of people with similar backgrounds and viewpoints. More ethnic and racial diversity, yes, but insular in other ways. Well, Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in New York City anymore. Many of our neighbors are Midwesterners, mostly Christian, mostly religious, mostly not left-leaning in their politics. And guess what? They are good people. Although living in an “active adult” community constrains the age demographic, there’s great comfort in being around folks who get your cultural references (like knowing the Odd Couple or Henny Youngman, or when they were when Kennedy was shot).
As our first year in SC comes to a close, I’m grateful for what we have, excited by the changes I’ve experienced and mindful that further changes are inevitable. All things must pass. But I’ll savor health, prosperity, happiness and sanity while they last, y’all.