Sunday, January 24, 2010

Waving, Community and the Impact on a Young Girl

People wave on Drummond Island. Everyone that has ever visited us always remarks on this little idiosyncrasy of the community. And they never fail to mention that most do it with personal style – there are the full handed wavers, the one fingered steering wheel lifters, the nodders and the saluters – to name but a few. And we can all pick out the first-timers to the Island – they would be the ones not waving. Otherwise known as the “no-waving bastards”.

When two of my granddaughters stayed on the Island with me one summer, this little gesture of “community” made a big impression on them. The oldest at the time, Meagan, thought it was just great that everyone on the Island knew her grandma – why else would they be waving. I didn’t have the heart to tell her otherwise!

Webster defines community as a group of individuals who share a common interest. On Drummond Island that common interest is the “connectedness” that comes from being a member of a small, close-knit, northern, rural community. Hard to explain to a flatlander who hasn’t shared in the experience as they grew up. And we – meaning the collective Island community – use this simple gesture of waving to signal to each other that we belong to this community. And when it happens, when you are part of the exchange of a quick flash of a “personalized” wave, the feeling of connectedness and community is unmistakable.

At the end of her 10 day visit, when we were watching the sun set on Potagannissing Bay, Meagan asked “Grandma, can we move here just you and me? Everyone else can come visit us here.” There is no better tribute to the Island and its strong sense of community then that – the statement made by an eleven year old girl who was made to feel as though she “belonged”.

William James once said a community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. I am so glad the members of this community are all impulsive enough to wave each time they pass a fellow Islander and “community” member – even the ones they don’t know by name and who are simply visiting!

So here’s to community, connectedness and being impulsive the next time you pass someone on the road – wave on!

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