We moved during a pandemic. A time when people were hunkered down at home and school was virtual. It was also winter, which inherently means hibernation in New England. Our to-do lists and kids kept us busy, but we're social creatures and longed for some local connections.
About two months into our time here, we had a knock on the door. It had been so long since we heard that sound, I wondered if my ears were deceiving me. I quickly made sure that my clothing was suitable for greeting a stranger (aka that I wasn't still in my PJ's) and grabbed a mask to see who was paying us a visit. At the door were a dad and son. The son was in James' class, and they lived nearby (literally just down the street). They wanted to welcome us to town and ask if we were interested in an outside play date. I think I did a terrible job at moderating my enthusiasm. I practically shoved James out the door and thanked them profusely for taking the leap and greeting us in person. They became our first friends in town.
If you live in town, you've probably seen us. Kids scooting down the sidewalks, Levi and me outside painting, or doing some sort of other various renovating activities. And usually someone stops to chat. They want to know how the store is coming along, and they want to express their excitement for us adding something to the community. I can't tell you how happy this makes us. Each person who asks for a sneak peek, each person who stops just to say "hello," or tell us they love the new windows, means the world to us.
The week before opening the Creamie window, our new friends were painting benches and organizing our dry goods. They literally stayed with us until 10pm on the Thursday before opening stamping cups. Our tenant, Lori, from the hair salon mowed the lawn in 90+ degree heat and took actual scissors to trim the long grass around the fence (leave it to a hair stylist to style the lawn :)). Our carpenter from Heath, Jason was working double time to get the last minutes projects done. Then, Levi's dad passed away unexpectedly. Our hearts felt heavy, all while the same time feeling like a part was missing. Being physically so far away from Louisiana made it feel even more surreal. The word spread around town quickly (this town has a good communication tree), and once again, we felt the support of the town. Be it a hug at the kids' baseball game, or someone just pulling into the parking lot to express their condolences. It's this type of support through good and hard times that makes a community special, and these hilltown residents are showing it in spades.
So thank you to the folks who dropped off a gallon of maple syrup on our porch with a welcome note (and the folks who dropped off eggs, and those who delivered morel mushrooms); and thank you to the kids at the game who pig piled on James after his first inning pitching; thank you to the teachers at Hawlemont who have shown their dedication to our kids and all the kids this difficult year; thank you to the folks who have come out every weekend (sometimes multiple times in one day) to get ice cream from us; thank you to the people who have sent emails simply to express their support of what we're trying to build. We have always said that we're creating this place to be something for the community, that we want to be the spark. It's the people of this area that are going to make it special. We love you for welcoming us with open arms.