Saturday, October 10, 2009
In this small island in the Salish Sea, one of the questions frequently asked is "How long have you lived here?" That passing conversational gambit, innocent enough, places you in a category. When, if ever, does one become a "local" ? If you were born here you are a local in island terms, but some places may require generations of you as a necessity to be a "local". Otherwise you are "fromaway". Much as I love this place I am glad to be a "fromaway". Thirty two years here does not entitle me to use the term "local". When we moved to the island there were barely four thousand people and now there are over ten thousand. Some are part-timers as we were then, and often now, houses that are cottage country places of part-time repose, remain empty for extended periods. This is not particularly healthy for a neighborhood. Notwithstanding that, the influx of "fromaways" has contributed enormously to the welfare of the island and it's cultural mix, bringing diversity and economic wellbeing . "Local " may in fact be better described as the degree of engagement and contribution to the welfare of your community, rather than the time you spent on the cracker barrel ! In the meantime, my best nature suggests I celebrate the commingling of the locals and the fromaways. A drink, blended well, is worth celebrating and will bear repeating.