This past month the Board of Health changed the policy regarding entrance into the “Refuse Gardens” (affectionately known by us as the dump). Today was the first day that hang tags were to be used for entrance and part of my job as clerk for the BOH was to be there to check that people were using them and have them ready if they didn’t have one.
I don’t spend a lot of time there – I rarely go at all – it’s not my household job. When I do go I am always amazed at what a hub it is for residents to relay information, learn about upcoming events or just visit with your neighbor (aren’t we all neighbors here really?). Every dump visit takes a few minutes to get rid of trash and recyclables but then another half hour spent chatting with someone. They talk about the weather, they talk about their kids, they bring their dogs and all receive some kind of attention. Chester loves going to the dump. It’s also the place you can go to do a little politics. Elections for town offices are coming up and this is the place to get the signatures you need to be placed on the ballot. The only real alternative is to go door to door.
This is where the connections are made, the invitations to visit, the plans to go places. When I was growing up you didn’t wait for an invite to go to someone’s house, you just stopped in. I think this came about more when people used to go out for a Sunday drive and pop in on some unsuspecting relative for a meal. My mother was a master at stretching her planned menu and always welcomed unexpected guests around the dinner table. It never rattled her at all. In today’s hurried, crazed world this is now considered pretty bad etiquette.
I think the change in attitudes has been a long time coming. I lived in Enfield, CT for over 30 years and am sad to say I only knew a handful of people. In Rowe many of the people (or families) I knew in childhood are still here, and there are a lot of newcomers. The difference in living in a town like this is people cultivate their relationships. We are far from services of any kind really. It’s a bit of a drive to get to anything resembling a grocery store. This is the kind of place where if you need that cup of sugar or eggs (especially eggs) you do call your neighbor. Those of us that live in the small hill towns know the value of having good neighbors. Things happen, you may need help. This is the value of community and it seems to me that many people are cultivating their community at the dump. It’s a pretty special place.