About a year ago, I opened an account with an online grocer called "Misfits Market." The produce and pantry goods are of good quality, just beaten up from handling and so not suitable shelf-goods for the general consumer. If they're lucky, these goods find their way to a food bank; more often than not, they're simply tossed. Wounded birds who could still fly if given a chance--still beautiful for their song if not their feathers. That's a bit what retirement has felt like, to be honest. Two weeks ago, my co-director with this writer's group and I stumbled on an opportunity to use a century-old building as the primary meeting spot for our group: the Dug Hill Cemetery and Community Center in northeast Bella Vista. The building hadn't been used in several years by humans, at least. Mice, spiders, and all manner of woodland creatures, flora, mold, and heaven knows what else had claimed the shiplap walls. But the school bell worked and as my friend and I roamed the grounds of the cemetery, I felt the hairs on my arms raise as they do before a storm. And I took notice. The Trustees have allowed us to lease the building. To clean up the weeds and fallen branches, to scrape and caulk and paint, and to endear ourselves to this grand old building. We plan to use the space for writer's meetings and workshops; a space for small performing artists; a space where musicians can teach the next generation the love of music: a community space for Bella Vista. The community is starting to breathe life into our new home. For the second Saturday now, we've had volunteers appear, rakes and caulk guns in hand. Volunteers working and sweating and sharing stories of their youth and life before retirement. We have no money yet...that will come. For now we're reaching deep in our pockets and pulling from our own garages and storage shelves to give back to this little building. This little community center. By the way, my birthday is November 8th and Christmas is just weeks after, so if you happen to see Santa, I'd like six gallons of white satin Valspar (interior), two gallons of white exterior Valspar, six tubes of white paintable caulk, a used 32" x 80" wooden exterior door with left-hand hinges, a couple of panes of glass, and volunteers. Lots of volunteers.
Giving thanks for our volunteers.