Living in a Park

“Duh, they think that they are in the park”, said the ferry worker to Mary as she handed her the ticket for the ferry. The park. Mary nodded. You are right, those tourists think that our little island is a park.
Mary had been driving down the road that morning, rushing to catch the ferry over to the main island when she had been stopped by a group of summer visitors who were leisurely walking down the road on their way to the market at the marina. They hadn’t even noticed that a car was behind them trying to get through. Their minds and their hearts focused on the ice-cream that they were going to enjoy after looking at the goodies sold at by the local artists and artisans at the market.
Every Sunday, the little market appeared under the covered area at the marina. Filled with beautiful pottery, exquisite glass jewelry, lovely scarves, paintings and photos of the area, fresh baking and produce, the locals arranged their goods on their tables and prepared to sell them to the tourists. Visitors who had come by boat, and visitors staying at the local resorts and B&Bs would make their way down in anticipation and looking for a good bargain. The market was not only a place for selling, but a place where the locals came to connect with each other, visiting with each other and talking about the latest event or the upcoming social occasions. It was the place for the latest gossip, the latest news, the feeling of connection that happens when people live in a small community.
The latest story flying through the air was about the AA meeting at the community center, and how D had saved the day by picking up the visitors coming from the ferry because Ron had forgotten to pick them up, and how D had given them some cake to take to the meeting, and how she had had the exact number of slices for each person present without even knowing. Others talked about the baking group absent from the market, and about how they had gotten in trouble with the marina owners and now were banned from the market. Of course more stories about the marina owners (who had come from the big city and didn’t understand island life) started to be shared, no one really bothering to check to see if they were true but enjoying the juiciness of them all.
Down at the produce table, Mike and John talked about the fire ban on the island and wondered if there would be any issues with the campers down by the rocks. The island became dry very quickly, and residents worried often about the vulnerability of living in the woods were a fire could easily and quickly spread during those dry hot days. Next to the driftwood art exhibit, Myra was telling Judy about the party down at the beach next to their house the night before that had gone on until three o’clock in the morning. Myra was trying to be gracious by talking about how quiet it had been that morning when she had gone down with her dog, but it was obvious to everyone that she had not had a lot of sleep the night before. Judy was listening as she thought about her son who had not been able to get work, and wondered if the marina would be a good place for him to try to work, even if they didn’t care much for the locals. Her son struggled with a disability, and unlike many of his peers who had gone off island to find employment he was determined to stay home and find work there. Judy worried about him, not just about the summer. The stories continued to be shared as the summer visitors came and went.
Mary reflected on all of this as she drove on to the ferry, they think they are in the park. She realized that this park, while not filled with concrete buildings and paved roads, was her home, her living community. A place full of joy and sorrow. A place blessed by people who looked out for each other. A place challenged by the differences of opinions and hopes. A placed filled with stories. A place that she called home. She loved her little island. She loved her little park.

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